Tuesday 8 October 2019

Taking Control Of The Nation's Story.

Fatal Contact: With the arrival of Captain James Cook on this day in October 1769, the islands of what would become New Zealand ceased to be the preserve of Polynesian navigators and settlers and became a part of both the world’s map and the world’s history.

THE MAORI NATIONALIST assault upon the historical meaning and reputation of Captain James Cook is entirely understandable. With his arrival in October 1769 these islands ceased to be the preserve of Polynesian navigators and settlers and became a part of both the world’s map and the world’s history. It is this sudden and irreversible transformation that presents such a formidable obstacle to the Maori nationalist cause. Its proselytisers know that once Cook’s map of New Zealand was added to the global stock of human knowledge, the world of the Maori was doomed.  Small wonder that the outspoken Maori nationalist, Dr Arama Rata, recently described Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, as “a death ship”, and characterised his arrival as an “invasion”.

Maori nationalism is not, however, about mourning the loss of the pre-European world that Cook’s arrival made inevitable. It’s partisans are not so reactionary as to suppose that the restoration of the status quo ante is either possible or desirable. No matter how loudly they might lament the loss of life that accompanied the first encounters between Maori and Pakeha, they are well aware that no Maori would thank them for magically uplifting their children from twenty-first century New Zealand and dropping them into eighteenth century Aotearoa. No, what Maori nationalism seeks is a reversal of political fortunes: the creation of an Aotearoa-New Zealand in which Pakeha will no longer call the shots.

A radical revision of New Zealand and, indeed, of global history, is crucial to achieving this political reversal. The cultural and scientific achievements of the European peoples, especially their dramatic expansion into, and eventual subjugation of, practically every other significant land mass on the planet, must be re-cast as an horrific tale of murder, rape and theft - undertaken by that global human scourge which Dr Rata calls “white people”. Only when the general perception of European civilisation has become one of technological prowess unmitigated by compassion or restraint, and the colonisation process is presented as uniquely oppressive and destructive of land and people, will the nationalist cause enter its next and most important phase – that of radical constitutional transformation.

When it comes to effecting that transformation, a surprising amount of faith has been vested by Maori nationalists in demographic change. Surprising, because in their hopes of overtaking the Pakeha population at some point in the reasonably near future, the nationalists are showing a confusing degree of confidence that the rapacious colonisers will simply stand back and allow the balance of democratic power to shift irrevocably in favour of the tangata whenua. That this is most unlikely to happen is demonstrated by the fact that, for the last 30 years, the “White Settler Government” has presided over an immigration regime which saw the “Asian” population rise from fewer than 5 percent of the population to 15 percent – a figure rivalling that of Maori New Zealanders.

Was it purely a matter of chance that this rapid reshaping of New Zealand’s demographic structure coincided with the flowering of the “Maori Renaissance”? Or, is it evidence that the Maori population will never be permitted to rise to a level where the dominance of European political and economic models is threatened? Have Maori nationalists not noted the change in the official terminology used to describe New Zealand society: from “bicultural” to “multicultural”? The determination of the New Zealand state to integrate its domestic economic institutions ever more inextricably in the global economy renders the Maori nationalist project ever more problematic.

From the nationalists’ perspective, the only hopeful aspect to the present situation is the enormously high level of historical ignorance in the New Zealand population – especially in the young. Forty years of failure to present a coherent historical narrative to successive generations of students has left young New Zealanders prey to the anachronistic blame-gaming of Maori nationalists. Descriptions of Cook as a “colonialist” and, even more risibly, a “white supremacist”, have been swallowed whole by those Pakeha disposed to range themselves against the negative effects of racism and colonisation on contemporary Maori. If Maori nationalist historians can seize control of the new, soon-to-be-compulsory, history curriculum, then the necessary ideological preparations can be made for a radical constitutional transformation. Only thus can the historic reversal of Maori fortunes, which began on the day the Endeavour arrived off the New Zealand coast 250 years ago, be overturned.

But only if the “White Settler State” is a great deal less determined to maintain its power and privilege than the Maori nationalists have, so far, been willing to admit.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 8 October 2019.


Anonymous said...

If it wasn't Cook, it would be some other discoverer from some other foriegn power that landed. It is a wonder that no other European voyager followed along shortly after Tasman. Maori isolationism was doomed from afar with technoligal advances of the time. Even the Chinese had vessels with the capability of reaching here.

peteswriteplace said...

Just a few points. How can mixed race Maori get rid of Pakeha society when they are part of it by descent. There was never a self-governing polynesian society here before the British arrived - it was an iwi society dominated by a chiefly elite. Modern Maori have a damn sight more than they had before. Sure its dominated by the rich and powerful; non-Maori New Zealanders have to put up with that bullshit as well.They are just dreamers anyway.NZ will eventually be dominated and outnumbered by Chinese and Indians. Who will Maori run to then?

Plugger said...

Tuia250 is state sponsored nonsense.

Replicas, dress ups, & superficial talk & narratives about 'encounter' is just plain junk.

Still, it probably employed several dozen pakeha bureaucrats on 6 figure salaries who thought long and hard about the 'themes' for this so-called historic milestone.

Tuai250 is cringe-worthy worthless mindless junk.

Guerilla Surgeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BlisteringAttack said...

@ Guerilla Surgeon

I was on an All Blacks supporters tour to Argentina in 2006. At a social function out Argentinian guide prompted some general historical chit-chat re our respective countries.

The wife of our tour leader (a prominant All Black of the 1980's) appeared stumped as to what to say.

Then she shrieked: 'Maoris have more rights than us!'

This, GS, perhaps supplies a striking eg & result of the lack of study of NZ History in schools and other places.

It was a cringe-worthy moment in extremis.

Odysseus said...

We live in a time when public discourse is characterized by mindless outrage and hysteria. Captain Cook - humane leader, unparalleled navigator and explorer, dedicated servant of science - was the real "progressive".

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Forty years of failure to present a coherent historical narrative to successive generations of students has left young New Zealanders prey to the anachronistic blame-gaming of Maori nationalists."
On the contrary, the failure to study New Zealand history New Zealand schools has resulted in the anachronistic idea that Maori – get free stuff, are privileged, are unworthy recipients of Pakeha largess, which they all piss up against the wall.
The ones that have studied New Zealand history, and they are relatively few, will have learned about the injustices legally foisted on Maori and those that were the result of Pakeha breaking their own damned laws. They are who will have sympathy with what you call the anachronistic blame gaming of Maori nationalists. If there had been no injustices, they wouldn't have any traction. So this is beyond wrong.

John Hurley said...

NZ On Air was fanatically supportive of the NZ Wars documentary series. It was filmed Hollywood style based on Thin Red line. Bellich regretted he couldn't put some balance in favour of Pakeha. It is in every secondary school. It hasn't done the trick. They will have a fight of their hands because "we don't know our history" and "we have to own our own history" and having a "conversation" has different connotations to different people. How far do the bureaucrats think they can go? Already the media and politicians are not trusted - that cannot be a good sign? One observation I would make is a. they don't understand human nature (blank slate ideology) and b. they overestimate their ability to influence opinion?

Maori nationalism is partly a result of funding Maori studies which would have the same effect if any radical position is state funded.

David Stone said...

Anonymous @ 11.17
Look up "the Tamil Pot.(bell)

Anonymous said...

There's a coop underway by foreign-backed separatists. This stuff will look quaint, sweet.

Geoff Fischer said...

Kia ora Chris
The Key government's decision to stage national celebrations for the 250th anniversary of Cook's arrival on our shores was decidedly odd and it was strange that the following government of Jacinda Ardern failed to see the entirely predictable divisions that it would provoke in New Zealand society - the exact opposite of what "Te Tuia" evidently intended.
The colonial political establishment sincerely believed that the person of Dame Jenny Shipley invoking the name of Captain James Cook RN would be enough to bring all New Zealanders together in a moment of national unity - "Te Tuia".
How could they have got it so wrong? That is the question you should be asking. And after that you should ask whether there is a future for a regime which is can be so out of touch with the mood of the people and so convinced that we can be intoxicated by a cocktail of colonial history stirred by one who personifies economic savagery, corporate fraud and economic treason.
Instead, you launch into a critique of what you choose to call "Maori nationalism". You find within the academic establishment an individual who perceives (or at least portrays) the challenges facing us in racial rather than political terms. No surprises there. The colonial regime, particularly in its current multicultural phase, holds strictly to the dogma that social and political conflict in New Zealand is all about race and nothing but race. Dr Rata has assimilated that dogma well and voices it strongly, but her audience is largely restricted to the colonial academic establishment and the regime which funds her work.
You write that "The world of the Maori was doomed" by the arrival of European explorers.
That is wrong. Te ao Maori is alive and thriving. Maori have suffered defeats and won victories but there has been no historical inevitability attached to either victory or defeat. Outcomes have depended on the strategy and tactics adopted given a particular balance of forces and social conditions, and those social conditions and the balance of forces are currently moving in our favour, despite what you and most political pundits might suggest.
You say that "If Maori nationalist historians can seize control of the new, soon-to-be-compulsory, history curriculum, then the necessary ideological preparations can be made for a radical constitutional transformation."
Wrong again. One can seize control of a propaganda machine, but no one can "seize control" of the truth, and in any case constitutional change does not depend on what takes place in the schools or universities of the colonial regime. It will come through the will of the people, Maori and Pakeha, who have had enough of everything that Dame Jenny Shipley and the colonial regime represent.
By turning the spotlight on to so-called "Maori nationalists" who are but the shadow side of British colonialism you just muddy the waters of the debate.
The fact is that "Te Tuia" was a huge political mistake, which points to the impending doom of colonialism - not of Maori.

Mark Simpson said...

Well done Chris broaching this topic that nearly all pakeha fear to tread for the obvious reason of being, and dismissed as, a racist. Unfortunately, those that do speak up are typically anonymous keyboard warriors and/or hard right imbeciles unable to articulate anything beyond chip on the shoulder vitriol whereby perspicacious commentators like yourself are contemptuously lumped in with them.

As a fifteen year old I witnessed the bi-centenary celebration and parade in Gisborne's main street of Cook's landing. It seems the whole town turned out and scant recognition was made of Maori existence let alone involvement. Indeed, our country was Euro-centric.

We have now lurched to the opposite pole where 'white bad/brown good' is all pervasive. No cognisance can be made to any positive outcomes of colonial contributions such as technology nor to the recognition that our country has valiantly and economically worked hard to address past wrongs. "Colonisation" is constantly used as a pejorative without anyone considering that it came with benefits as well.

In 1975, as a student idealist I sought to support Whina Cooper's land march but was told to, "F### off pakeha." This era is lauded as the beginning of the Maori Renaissance and indeed it jolted the country out of its narrow "We are one people" torpor. But forty five years hence, there seems to be a growing willful alienation by perpetually angry and irreconcilable Maori nationalists that does not furnish, for me at least, any positivity for the future.

rouppe said...

As the first commenter said, if it hadn't been Cook, it would have most likely been the French or the Dutch.

Name one former colony of the French or the Dutch that has fared better than the Maori of New Zealand. I dare anyone to say they'd rather be a native of Algeria, or Indonesia, or many other former colonies.

Geoff Fischer said...

Kia ora Mark

"We have now lurched to the opposite pole where 'white bad/brown good' is all pervasive."
It is out there. But not "all pervasive".

"No cognisance can be made to any positive outcomes of colonial contributions such as technology"
That confounds technology with colonialism. In fact many of us respect aspects of European culture, including agricultural systems, technology, Christianity and rule of law. But we could have had all these things without colonisation.

" nor to the recognition that our country has valiantly and economically worked hard to address past wrongs."
I'm sorry, while I accept that ordinary folk have good will and good intentions, I don't believe that of the New Zealand state. The "Treaty settlement" regime was part and parcel of Rogernomics, a disingenuous attempt to distract Maori, who were among the principal victims of the state's "reforms", from mounting a political response. The best that one can say of the New Zealand state is that it knows when to be pragmatic.

"In 1975, as a student idealist I sought to support Whina Cooper's land march but was told to, "F### off pakeha."
I presume you did as you were told. That would be understandable, but the correct response would have been to say "I am here to fight for justice in the motu and who are you to tell me not to?". One doesn't have to get angry, and one doesn't have to be offended, but one should not fold in the face of such a challenge.
Many Pakeha participated in and supported the land march. Your unfortunate experience would not have been typical.

John Hurley said...

When Yassmin Abdel-Magied made an ill-advised tweet on ANZAC day she found out she wasn't an Australian. Societies unite around sacred symbols. Anzac is sacred to Australians and us but so is Cook. Maori were lucky they weren't colonised by Maori. Imagine if the Church of England settlers had arrived at Lyttelton, said prayers and then rounded up and ritually slaughtered local Maori roasting them on a spit (as happened to the Moriori)?

Barry said...

I recently spent some time in Ireland, Wales and Belgium. Parts of Belgium have changed hands over 40 times in the last couple of thousand years. They dont even comment on it. In Ireland they dislike the British with passion - but they also say that they are lucky as when the British invaded in about 1650 they brought the best education system in the world with them and the Irish have adopted it. The Welsh have a lot to thank the Hugonaughts (sp?)for when they invaded and introduced a building style that resulted in permanent houses - which the welsh lacked.

In the much vaunted Tuia 250 all we have heard is what a terribly guy Cook was and that he was a murderer. There has been no mention of the fact that Cook had the perpetrators of the shooting of Maori flogged - Cook thought it was exactly the wrong thin to have done. Cook was no murderer and in fact is recorded as being one of the few captains who cared about his crew at a time in history when that sort of leadership was uncommon.

Of course teaching the countries history is a good thing. I was amazed yesterday the hear a regular commentator say that she never knew anything about Russell being capital of early New Zealand - amazing.
As long as the history that is taught is true - then no problem. Both the Colonials and Maori have good stories and bad stories to be told. For example the truth behind the so called Banning of Te Reo needs to be told - the Maori leaders at the time wanted their children to learn english because without it they would suffer. Their desire may have been implemented a bit harshly - but they were the tools used at that time.

Odysseus said...

@ Barry. Cook didn't flog those involved in the shooting which was done in self defence and about which he and Banks both recorded their strongest regret. He did however have men flogged who stole vegetables and small items from Maori in the Bay of Islands.

Nick J said...

Show me the genetic line that has no traces of being over run by colonisation. It's the empirical history of humanity, nobody is exempt. It is the human condition.

We in NZ are just the latest version. What we are however trying to do is redress the "wrongs" of the colonisation. That's a plus compared to the usual model. If I hold with any protest it is because the speed of redress is so slow.

On the plus side as the late great Ranginui Walker said the wrongs are being cured between the bedsheets. We will be one people (until the next colonisation).

sumsuch said...

After Meng Foon's vera canny Maori-infused endless mayorality here in Gisborne we've just got a South African who hasn't deigned to address the least. Roofs over their heads she avoided, it's so desperate here for the 'least' housing-wise. Yertle has an outsize voice in Gisborne, hence the endless police cars. A victory for the powerful, she'll have to bring off the dream of a strong economy. A right-wing South African in Gisborne (50 % Maori). Not right.

Just a fair picture of NZ history is good enough. Media is just what's first up, and that implies power of some sort.

John Hurley said...

The Christchurch Press looses 20,000 subscribers per year and yet still pours out "Death Ship" articles by Phillip Mathews. Phillip Mathews scoffed at people aghast at Katie Pickles suggestion that we shouldn't restore statues. She writes:

Would the student army put their lives on the line to fight for Britain? Probably not. The patriotism is gone, but the celebrity remains.

So what fills the void?

John Hurley said...

I have been reading Papers Past for evidence of Tautahi Pa (on which Christchurch gets a rebrand). If it existed it was "centuries ago".
You do get a sense of genuine grievance as Maori who were once Kings of the Castle are left behind and are "landless Mcgregor's". There is a letter from A Maori [unless it is just his non de plume] who sticks up for Chinese saying we must be more brotherly [GREYMOUTH EVENING STAR, 18 NOVEMBER 1905]. Which made me think he has seen the other side of the story.
I also found an account of a Maori Woman whose mother and father were both mixed race who became an advocate for retaining Maori knowledge and she appears to be one of the sources for W A Taylor who wrote a history of the south Island Maori in 1850. She was a pre 1970's radical (you might say).
Having said that though these things have a use by date. Do gooders like Jim Bolger think expressions of virtue and recognitions of past wrongs will have a good result. The opposite is true. They are like the old time psychologists who said "yes, yes, poor you!". That is what Jon Haidt and others talk about when they relate the mollycoddling of America's young minds as being the antithesis of best practise in psychology (cognitive behavioural therapy). Today we have wealthy Ngai tahu convinced they were ripped off as owners of the South Island at 1d/acre.... because do-gooders encourage them. If no academics argue against that line it is assumed there is no other argument.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

So the fact that conservatives send their kids to private schools, and in the US where I presume Jonathan Haidt comes from to private and often religious universities means that their minds aren't being mollycoddled? New Zealand conservatives usually make sure that their kids aren't exposed to alternative views, partly by making sure they are safely enrolled in business/economics/law at universities. Ah...the snowflakes and their safe spaces eh?