New book to profile Busby

11 Feb, 2019
New book to profile Busby

Paul Moon, Professor of History at Te Ara Poutama, is working on a book about the Resident James Busby, co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi, for a renowned international publishing house.

Paul made the decision to write about Busby, a fascinating figure in New Zealand's colonial history, after noting an absence of literature about his life.

"Nobody has written a book-length examination of Busby's whole life," Paul explained. "Others have written about various aspects of it - such as his interest in wine and viticulture, or his time in Waitangi - but there is currently no definitive text covering his whole life in detail."

Busby, who lived from 1802 to 1871, was born in Scotland, emigrated to Australia, and spent time in Sydney before being appointed British Resident in New Zealand in 1833. He acted as our country's first jurist and was involved in drafting the 1835 Declaration of Independence of New Zealand, along with the Treaty of Waitangi five years later. He was also responsible for establishing New Zealand's national flag following consultation with Maori chiefs.

Paul began researching the life and times of James Busby about a year ago and discussed the book idea with local publishers.

"I was advised that this project needed an international publisher, as the story of Busby's whole life is bigger than his time in New Zealand," Paul said. "So I started searching for one with a solid reputation, academic clout and global reach."

Bloomsbury Publishing - a major international publisher who publish the works of historians A.C. Grayling, William Dalrymple, and Joachim Fest (as well as J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books) - were interested in the project, and asked for a sample of Paul's work.

"I had already drafted two chapters, so sent those to Bloomsbury where they had them reviewed by academics in the UK and US.  On the basis of these reviews, they invited me to publish the book with them. This will be the first time they have published a work on a significant figure in colonial New Zealand."

The research process is exhaustive, and Paul has uncovered private papers and other documents that he has been sifting through to prepare the book.

"There is a huge amount of material to go through," Paul explains. "I've been scouring archives across the globe to find everything I can. Later in the year, I'm travelling to Scotland and England to conduct more research."

Paul anticipates that the book will be finished by mid-2020 and on shelves by the end of next year.

"This book is not only going to be the first comprehensive record of Busby's whole life, I think it is also a recognition of AUT's History research and teaching," Paul concludes. "A publication like this shows that what we deliver stands up to the highest of international standards."