17 Jul 2012

History prize for book on inter-racial marriage

2:42 pm on 17 July 2012

An Australian history award has been won by an Auckland University academic for a book challenging the conventional belief that British empire builders opposed inter-racial marriage in colonies like New Zealand.

Racial Crossings by Damon Salesa was awarded the Ernest Scott Prize by the Australian History Association.

One of the judges describes it as a landmark in scholarship on race in the Victorian British Empire.

Dr Salesa says many on the frontline of colonial encounters saw racial mixing as good for the empire.

He says Herman Merivale, Britain's permanent under-secretary for the colonies in the 1850s, promoted racial amalgamation between Pakeha settlers and Maori, but only as a way of absorbing the indigenous population.