Aboriginal Protectorates operated in the late 1830s and 1840s in the Port Phillip District of New South Wales (later to become the colony of Victoria) in Australia and New Zealand. This article examines a small selection of the extensive archive of Port Phillip and New Zealand Protectorates to illustrate the ways that language and communication work within colonial projects to support and extend colonial authority. Examining language acquisition by Protectors, it places attitudes to and use of Indigenous languages within the context of colonialism in each site, arguing that Indigenous voices in New Zealand were co-opted, and in Port Phillip were marginalised, in the service of divergent approaches to dispossessing Indigenous peoples from their land. The article also explores glimpses of Māori or Aboriginal experiences of humanitarianism, colonisation, and dispossession captured in this archive.

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