This piece was inspired by an infuriating article by Stuff.
Stuff.co.nz has recently been cranking out race baiting articles daily, blithering on about the Treaty of Waitangi and how bad the poor Maori have it, how the evil British came and oppressed the peaceful locals and stole all the land by force, etc.
The article caught my eye for two reasons; the first being that the author was one Dr Vincent O’Malley, who is a skilled historian and whose book “Waikato: The Great War for New Zealand” I personally own and have very much enjoyed, even if it seems more about the aftermath than about the actual wars themselves, which is the part I have always found more interesting. The second reason it got my attention was the title: “A mature nation owns its history – the good and the bad”. This immediately sets the tone and paints a narrative; in the history that Dr O’Malley is presenting, what is good and what is bad? Or rather, who is good and who is bad?
Dr O’Malley says that the purpose of remembering the history of this period is not “to sow division and disharmony but to bind us together as a nation that can openly and honestly confront its past.”, which I would agree with. But to honestly confront our past, we must see both sides of the story. It is true that for a long time that whole period of our history has been ignored, and that is a real shame, but now we are only presented with one side which is perhaps better than none, but with article after article being published from the Maori perspective, I think it’s about time somebody gave the other.
Note: from this point I am not referring to any of Dr O’Malley’s work, or this specific article.
You have probably seen the Maori presented as having been peaceful “tangata whenua”, the guardians of the land, living in harmony with nature in their island paradise. You also probably know deep down that this isn’t true. They weren’t so much guardians of the land as they were wardens. Within two centuries of the Maori arrival in New Zealand, more than 40% of the country’s forests had been cleared; even before the white man arrived many native species had been driven to extinction. The land was not shared in what would today be considered a “hippy commune”, there were strict hierarchies, there was slavery, there was war; the largest recorded battle ever fought in New Zealand was the Battle of Hingakaka in 1791, where up to ten thousand warriors from allied North Island tribes fought against a slightly smaller Tainui army, and not a red-coated imperialist in sight.
The Musket Wars, a “series of as many as 3,000 battles and raids” between different Maori tribes, killed as many as forty thousand, which is impressive considering that the total Maori population after the wars, in 1840, was only seventy thousand.
On top of these inter-tribal conflicts, the Maori had a long history of killing foreigners. The very first encounter between Europeans and Maori, on the 19th of December 1642, ended with the deaths of four of Abel Tasman’s crew: Jan Tyssen of Oueven, Tobias Pietersz of Delft, Jan Isbrantsz and a nameless fourth man.
Many early visitors to this land met their end in the “Cannibal Islands”, such as Marion Dufresne and twenty-six of his crew, mainly from Brittany, who were murdered beneath a pohutakawa tree in the Bay of Islands in 1772. The British ship ‘Boyd’, with seventy people on board, was sacked and burned in 1809, all onboard being killed and eaten except for Ann Morley and her baby, Thomas Davis and a two-year-old girl named Betsy Broughton.
The Moriori are another controversial part of our history as a nation. People these days say that they were merely a tribe of Maori, as if that somehow makes their genocide by actual Maori somehow acceptable. The Moriori lived by a code of pacifism and non-violence and the Maori did not. When Maori from the Taranaki hijacked a European ship in 1835 and headed their way, the Moriori stood no chance. The Taranaki Maori killed the men, women and children, hunted them down like animals, they cannibalised and enslaved the Moriori, and ritually decimated (killed one tenth of) the population. Moriori were forbidden from marrying each other, the Moriori language was banned, Moriori sacred sites were desecrated.
The last full-blooded Moriori died in 1933. His name was Tommy Solomon.
We haven’t even come to the Land Wars yet, but the narrative of the Maori as a victim is already on shaky ground.
In 1835, thirty-four Maori chiefs, under the direction of James Busby, a British resident in New Zealand, drafted the Declaration of Independence for New Zealand. This established the only independent, semi-united Maori nation in history, the United Tribes of New Zealand, and by 1839 some fifty-two chiefs had signed. They did this partly out of justified fears that the French were soon to colonise the Islands. At the time a Frenchman named Charles de Thierry styled himself the “Sovereign Chief of New Zealand” and sought to establish a colony at Hokianga and being a recognised nation under British protection would give the French second thoughts about sending colonists.
A letter from Lord Glenelg to the Governor of New South Wales said, “His Majesty will continue to be the parent of their infant State, and its Protector from all attempts on its independence”. This Maori nation was a protectorate of Britain, and at Waitangi in 1840, the same Mr. Busby, with William Hobson and many of the same Maori chiefs, signed a treaty that had only three articles.
The first stated that the chiefs of the United Tribes of New Zealand, as well as the chiefs who “have not become members of the Confederation” ceded full Sovereignty over all of these chiefs’ lands. It must be admitted that this is a bit of trickery including other people’s land in the bargain, but as five hundred more chiefs would later sign the treaty, those chiefs would have probably signed in the first place had they been present.
The second article confirmed the rights of the chiefs and tribes to their land, and gave the crown the exclusive right to buy that land. It’s this article where most of the troubles today come from with the treaty settlements, as Maori claim their land was taken unjustly by the crown – but we will get to that.
The third article gave the Maori full rights as British subjects. The Maori nation was no more, and New Zealand was now a colony and a part of the British Empire. Queen Victoria was now the “Sovereign Chief”.
As British subjects, and as a land under British sovereignty, British laws applied to the country. When Maketu Wharetotara murdered Thomas Bull, Elizabeth Roberton and her two children, as well as Isabella Brinda, on Motuarohia Island, he was taken into custody, given a trial in Auckland and executed.
In Wairau near Nelson, the chief Te Rauparaha, who had previously encouraged European settlement and even married off his own daughter to a whaling captain named John Blenkinsop, who had sold land to the New Zealand Company, and who had signed the treaty of Waitangi, disrupted the work of land surveyors and later killed a posse of twenty-two British settlers who had come to arrest him for the disruption.
Hone Heke signed the treaty too, but he still sacked Kororareka in 1845. He was not an enemy combatant from a different nation but a rebel, an outlaw, even a terrorist in more modern terms. In his attack, fifteen Europeans were killed and dozens wounded, the town was burned to the ground and the inhabitants fled to Auckland.
The war against Hone Heke included Maori on both sides, Tamati Waka Nene and other Maori sided with the British, or at the very least against Heke. This wasn’t the clear-cut case of a brave native standing up to the colonial oppressor, in fact Heke’s rebellion was partially for financial reasons, with the British in control he was seeing less income from taxing whalers, and an American resident in Kororareka had been whispering ideas of freedom and rebellion in his ear. Heke even flew the American flag from his waka. Was Hone Heke a tool of American imperialism?
I’m not going to go into every single skirmish, battle and murder of the colonial period, that would take far too long, I will just mention a few more notorious incidents that go against the grain. As Stuff says, a “mature nation owns its history – the good and the bad”, I wonder if any of the Maori or their apologists will own up to any of this.
Maori would routinely attack isolated settlers. Maketu Wharetotara was by no means the only Maori murderer from this period. In 1847 a group of Maori attacked the farm of an artist named John Gilfillan near Wanganui, killing his wife, three of his children and burning the house to the ground. Between the battles of Te Kohia and Waireka, the local Maori bushwhacked and killed Samuel Ford, Henry Passmore, Samuel Shaw and two boys named William Parker and James Pote.
Then there’s Hauhau, a Maori cult who were extremely violent and committed numerous war crimes. In 1864 they ambushed a group of soldiers at Te Ahuahu. Captain Thomas Lloyd, Private Jeremiah Dooley, Private George Sadler, Corporal John Banks, Private James Neagles, Private Henry Hartley and Private J. Gallagher were killed and ritually beheaded. The heads of these British soldiers were then carried off by the Hauhaus and paraded around the country as trophies, the head of Captain Lloyd was taken by one of the “prophets” Kereopa Te Rau.
The German missionary Carl Völkner was murdered by his own congregation at Opotiki, after having been infiltrated by Hauhaus. He was put through a mock trial and hanged from a tree, then he, like the others, was ritually beheaded. Kereopa Te Rau took the head into the church, placed it in the pulpit and delivered a sermon, then he ripped out the dead man’s eyes and ate them.
Kereopa Te Rau fled to the Ureweras after much fighting and a government manhunt. The hostile Tuhoe were eventually forced to hand him over to a pro-government Maori force under Ropata Wahawaha and he was executed. In 1993 Justice Minister Doug Graham delivered an apology to the Iwi responsible for hanging Völkner, and Kereopa Te Rau was pardoned in 2014 as part of the Ngati Rangiwewehi treaty settlement.
That’s right, someone who is known to have fought for the “Kingitanga” rebels, who was a member of the Hauhau cult, who took part in the ambush and beheading of British soldiers and who killed and desecrated the corpse of a missionary, was pardoned. Because it would be racist not to, wouldn’t it? Everyone knows the Maori were the victims, so how could he be guilty?
These aren’t even the last of the Hauhau war crimes. In November 1868 a warband under Te Kooti massacred the settlers of Matawhero, and any Maori who was deemed to have helped them. Men, women and children were slaughtered, and their homes were burned. The skeleton of one resident, Mr Rathbone, wasn’t found until years later.
Reginald Biggs’ family was butchered, with only one boy escaping to raise the alarm, but it couldn’t come fast enough for everyone. The neighbour James Wilson, his wife, their four children and a worker named Moran were all killed too, so was Mr Walsh, his wife and their three-week-old baby. Two men named Padbury and Cadell were killed at their station, another two men named Dodd and Pepperd were killed at theirs.
Mr and Mrs McCullock, her baby daughter and seven-year-old niece were ambushed at home and killed. The Mann family was also murdered, and Mrs Mann was set on fire. Mr Goldsmith was lucky to be out at the time, but his daughter and young son were killed. Piripi, a native who was friendly to the settlers, as well as his wife and three sons were killed too; as were the chief Tutari and two of his children, for helping some of the British to escape.
Also killed were Finlay Ferguson, William Wylie, Benjamin Mackay, the Newnham family, the Nairn’s, it was a bloody massacre, one that you have probably never heard of.
Te Kooti’s men did the same thing again the year after, this time in Mohaka. This raid was aimed at pro-government Maori. At Te Arakinihi, thirty-one natives and seven settlers were killed, and at Te Huki, twenty-six were killed, mainly women and children. After the massacre, Te Kooti simply retreated into the Tuhoe country, where he was sheltered and welcomed, until government forces eventually chased him out, pursuing him for months across the country until he took asylum with the Maori king.
Then there’s the Maori king – what a glorious, honorable office. Invented in the 1850s to unite the Waikato tribes, the office of the current king was recently raided by the Serious Fraud Office. The current king used taxpayer’s money to pay for weight-loss surgery, and his son was acquitted for drunk driving and theft – because it would “likely bar his succession to the throne”!
The Tuhoe who continuously aided and sheltered Te Kooti, as well as Kereopa Te Rau, continue to be troublesome. The “prophet” Rua Kenana lived among them, and a police raid in 1916 against Kenana ended with two Maori dead, two wounded and four wounded constables. You might consider those the last shots of the Land Wars. Another police raid took place much more recently in 2007, after the Tuhoe were supposed to have been running terrorist training camps in the Uruweras.
The historian James Belich has said that the Tuhoe country was one of the last remnants of Maori autonomy. It’s true, but how many Maori today would want to live in an authentic Maori environment? It wasn’t until 1901 that Ruatahuna was reached by road. The Tuhoe suffered in very poor living conditions: 75% of deaths were aged under twenty-five and diseases such as influenza and typhoid were rampant. Strange, isn’t it, that all the other tribes – the ones that didn’t have this “autonomy”, the ones who were “oppressed” – didn’t have these same problems? Surely it must be a coincidence.
If the whole ‘Land Wars’ thing was a simple case of imperialism on the part of the British Empire, why did they give the Maori full rights as British subjects in the treaty, when Australian Aborigines weren’t even counted in the Australian population until 1967? Why did so many tribes sign the treaty and encourage White settlement? Why did so many tribes fight on behalf of the government (or at least against government enemies for tribal and political reasons)? Why did Maori men have full voting rights twelve years before European men?
If we are to remember our history and our dead, am I then allowed to remember Major Gustavus von Tempsky, shot in the head while charging Titokowaru’s stronghold? Can I remember Bugler William Allen who died sounding the alarm as the Maori raided Boulcott’s farm, saving the lives of his comrades? What about Captain Henry Mercer who bled to death in the trench at Rangiriri? Lieutenant Charles Brooke who fought to the death at Puketakauere, surrounded and outnumbered, armed only with his sword? Should Captain John Hamilton, killed at Gate Pa, be remembered in any way other than in the city that bears his name? Can I remember all the civilians who were murdered, from the very first Dutch sailors to the people in Matawhero and Mohaka?
Or are we only supposed to remember the supposed crimes of our ancestors, our apparent trickery and the supposed theft of Maori land, the phoney victims of British oppression?
Stuff, and other outlets and authors like them, will keep churning out these anti-white articles for all eternity. It is up to us to remember the truth.