In the 1960s, my grandfather Ormond Wilson devoted himself to restoring the site of the last fixed battle of the New Zealand wars, Te Pōrere, in the central North Island. As chair of the recently formed Historic Places Trust, Ormond was involved in the creation of what the French historian Pierre Nora has called “lieux de mémoire” or sites of memory. Nora argues that such sites are a modern phenomenon that demonstrate the rupture between traditional environments of memory (or “milieux de mémoire”) and historical research and consciousness in a modern sense. In this essay, I reflect on how Ormond’s work can be read differently, as revealing an entanglement or “knotted” historical practice as he worked at Te Pōrere, a place with which his family had a longer connection.
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