A prominent historian has been accused of important errors in his account of cannibalism in New Zealand. But is there any real doubt that cannibalism existed?
Cannibalism - a word that rolls off the tongue and straight into the darkest, scariest chambers of the brain - has a special frisson in post-colonial New Zealand.
So, when historian Paul Moon tackled this fascinating but taboo topic in This Horrid Practice: The Myth and Reality of Traditional Maori Cannibalism, he was applauded for taking on what one reviewer called "the elephant spit-roasting in the room". Drawing on early European accounts of contact with Maori, Moon concluded cannibalism among Maori was not a rare, isolated practice, but widespread. His book carried weight, ...
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