A Tale Of Two Theories
and a Murderous Rampage

The first New Zealander to be executed for murder under British sovereign law, was Maketu Wharetotara (aka Wiremu Kingi Maketu), who was accused of murdering five people on Motuarohia Island, in the Bay of Islands, on 20 November 1841, when he was 16 years old. (Moon, 2013)
In this essay, I will contend that Sutherlands (1947) Differential Association Theory of Sociology, provides a better explanation for Maketu’s murderous rampage, than Hirschi’s (1969) Social Bond Theory, because I think that Sutherland observes and analyses crime at the societal, the group, and the individual level, which in the context of Maketu’s time and place, gives a more realistic description and explanation of the societal factors in New Zealand that may have contributed to Maketu’s rampage, as well as valid insights as to what kind of definitions Maketu may have internalized within this context, and within the context of his family and tribal customs and laws.

The Differential Association Theory

Sutherland’s (1947) Differential Association Theory explains crime at the societal, the group, and the individual level. (Carrabine, E. Cox, P. Fussey, P. Hobbs, D. South, N. Thiel, D. & Turton, J. 2014).

At the individual level, the theory predicts that if Maketu had learned the skills and techniques of committing murder, and had an excess of definitions favourable to murder as opposed to an excess of definitions unfavourable to murder, when an objective opportunity to murder came along, he would carry it out. According to Sutherland, if all three of these conditions were present and Maketu did not carry out the murder, the theory would be wrong and in need of revision (Matsueda R.L. 1982).
I think all of these conditions were present in the case of Maketu. He was born in a violent time, during the musket wars (1807 – 1847), when New Zealanders, were systematically slaughtering each other with the guns they had traded for...