Done Deal: The Prime Minister's comments regarding the peaceful settlement of New Zealand have been ridiculed by his detractors, but they were considerably less controversial than the Waitangi Tribunal's assertion that Maori never ceded sovereignty to the British crown. (Image drawn from the TVNZ docudrama About Waitangi: What Really Happened?)
THE PRIME MINISTER, John Key, has been much mocked over the past week for his claim that New Zealand was settled peacefully. Hoots of derision have echoed through the Twittersphere from those who profess to know their New Zealand history a great deal better than the Prime Minister.
Are they right? Is Mr Key wrong?
It might help to place the Prime Minister’s comments in context. His remarks followed the Waitangi Tribunal finding that the tribal chieftains of the far-North did not cede sovereignty to the British Crown when they signed the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840.
This finding is considerably more controversial than anything the Prime Minister decided to offer by way of commentary. The Auckland-based historian, Paul Moon, has already derided the Tribunal’s historical conclusions, and his intervention is unlikely to be the last.
Indeed, it is extremely difficult to understand how the Waitangi Tribunal’s latest finding could be so provocatively definitive. The Tribunal’s enabling legislation allows the Crown to test the evidence presented to it by cross-examining witnesses and by introducing evidence of its own. It may also commission professional historians to assess evidence presented in support of radically revisionist interpretations of New Zealand history.
Did the Crown take full advantage of its interrogative powers in this case? Did it seize the opportunity to open up the vital constitutional issues under consideration to wider public scrutiny and debate? Apparently not. The strongly held beliefs of those bringing the claim were accorded a decisive credibility. The settled view of more than 150 years of historical research? Not so much.
A crucial element of the settled view is that the Maori chieftains who signed the Treaty, many of whom had enjoyed long and mutually beneficial relationships with the Europeans who had taken up residence in New Zealand since Cook’s exploratory voyages of the late eighteenth century, knew exactly what they were agreeing to at Waitangi on 6 February 1840.
Captain William Hobson was guaranteeing them the inviolability of their traditional territories and the safety of their people. In the light of what had befallen the iwi and hapu of Niu Tirani (New Zealand) between 1769 and 1840, the existential value of these guarantees is readily appreciated.
The indigenous population of these islands at the time of first European contact is estimated at 100,000. Between 1800 and 1830 as many as 30,000 Maori were killed and/or driven from their traditional lands by enemy iwi and hapu armed with the devastating military technology of the Pakeha. The protection of Queen Victoria (symbolising the world’s most powerful nation) was what they needed. Hobson offered it. The chiefs grabbed it with both hands.
So, in the sense that New Zealand was gazetted as a possession of the British Crown by virtue of a treaty of cession, rather than by outright military conquest, the Prime Minister’s assertion that “New Zealand was one of the very few countries in the world that were settled peacefully” is not only historically uncontroversial but also, in general terms, correct.
That correctness is bolstered when we compare the wholesale slaughter, land seizure and population displacement that accompanied the so-called “Musket Wars”, with the death-toll of the Land Wars of 1845-1872. Over the course of those three tumultuous decades roughly 2,000 Maori and 2,000 Pakeha fell victim to fatal violence. On the Maori side of the ledger, a significant proportion of those fatalities were inflicted by Maori fighting for the Crown. And, if we divide the total number of fatalities by the 28 years the conflict lasted, then the average fatality rate is 143 deaths per annum – less than the 2013 road toll.
Even the relatively large-scale conflict encompassing Taranaki, the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty between 1860 and 1863 was more of a civil war than a war of conquest. The Kingitanga’s brave attempt to re-define the terms of Hobson’s deal, by proposing a two crowns/one flag formula, was deemed to be unacceptable by Governor Grey; antagonistic to the fast-expanding settler interest; and a doomed attempt to wind back the clock by those Maori leaders who knew that, for better or worse, the Pakeha had come to stay.
In the smaller flare-ups of the late-1860s and early-1870s, it was these “Loyal Maoris” who played a crucial role in extinguishing the isolated bush-fires of iwi and hapu resistance. That the Waitangi Tribunal masks their participation by subsuming their contribution under the all-encompassing rubric of “The Crown” says it all really.
Accordingly, I will not be participating in the condescension and derision of the Twitter handle #johnkeyhistory.
Is the history of Maori-Pakeha relations entirely free of violence and injustice? Of course not. There’s blood in the foundations of every state. But, if John Key’s saying there’s a lot less in ours than most, then I, for one, agree.
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 25 November 2014.
I appreciate the way you interrupt your analyses of quotidian political life to consider the deep history of our country. It's rare to find political commentary informed by such a sense of the past.
I have to disagree, though, with your interpretation of the motivations of the Maori signatories of the treaty, which seems to me to owe much less to the scholarship of our historians than it does to the press releases of Muriel Newman and some of her friends on the far right of the political spectrum.
I agree with you that the Musket Wars devastated many iwi and redrew the map of the North Island.
But the notion that Maori turned to British power to help them end the Musket Wars ignores the fact that the wars had almost petered out by the 1830s, as iwi achieved military parity, as traditional methods of peacemaking achieved results (consider the peace that Te Wherowhero brokered between the iwi of the upper and middle North Island), and as Maori interpretations of Christian ideology spread.
By the end of his life Hongi Hika had become a lonely anachronism, and when in the middle of the 1830s a group of bellicose northern Taranaki rangatira decided to wage a new war of conquest they found so few prospects in our two main islands that they had to sail off to the Chathams.
Far from being exhausted by the Musket Wars, northern Maori showed that they were capable of fighting an imported British army to a standstill just a few years after 1840.
There's also the difficult fact that, in 1840 and for many years afterwards, representatives of the British crown had almost no way of imposing their will on their fellow Pakeha, let alone Maori.
When Muriel Newman and her ilk claim that the Crown was able to step into the breach and prevent one iwi attacking another, and thereby prevent the supposedly imminent extinction of much of the Maori people, they are falsely imagining that the British possessed the resources of a modern state, like a standing army and a police force. All the British had in 1840 was a printing press and the seal of their faraway monarch.
I think Matthew Wright's book Guns and Utu gives a very credible picture of the balance of political and military forces in New Zealand at the end of the Musket Wars period. Wright ridicules the notion that the British had any real agency in New Zealand in the early 1840s, but he also criticises ideas that anything like a unified Maori nation existed then. Wright warns against a tendency to see the signatories of the Treaty, whether Maori or Pakeha, as far-sighted nation-builders, and as fathers of modern New Zealand, rather than as opportunistic local leaders.
There's another aspect of Wright's book that is relevant to this discussion. He points out that the Treaty of Waitangi cannot in any way be equated with the settling of New Zealand. In 1840 only a tiny number of Pakeha existed, and no Maori could have possibly imagined the tens of thousands who would arrive, courtesy of Wakefield and other impresarios of imperialism, later in the nineteenth century.
It seems to me that, while discussions about the circumstances around the signing of the Treaty, and the interpretations that the signatories held, are obviously interesting and important, they're not really relevant to John Key's claim that New Zealand was settled peacefully.
As the history of imperialism and the histories of the various parts of the Pacific show, there is an enormous difference between running up a flag and making marks on a piece of paper and planting settlements over a colony.
Even if your interpretation of the Treaty were correct, then Key's claim would still be very problematic, because almost as soon as it began the settling of New Zealand provoked bloodshed. From the Wairau affray in 1843 to the endless troubles over land sales in Taranaki that began in the 1850s and led to war and to Parihaka to the disputes that ended with the invasion of the Waikato by twelve thousand troops in 1863, the attempts of Pakeha settlers to acquire, build on and farm land provoked violent conflict.
It is battlefields like Rangiriri, Orakau and Te Porere, and not a few marks made on a piece of paper in 1840, that offer a verdict on Key's claim about the peaceful settlement of these islands.
Well said Chris: I only wish to hell that the Parliamentary Press Gallery with the likes of Gower were as even handed. Fat chance I suspect.
I am however deeply suspicious of John Keys historic knowledge, I think I will put this down to a happy intersection between what Key wanted to portray, and historic authenticity. Teflon with luck methinks.
Were the Maori ripped off? I'd say the answer to that is a definite yes. That suggests violence and coersion at some level went on.
Many thanks for a simple explanation of history as it happened rather than as it has been invented.
Well said, Chris. FWIW, I agree.
Rather than not "not participating in the condescension and derision of the Twitter handle #johnkeyhistory." perhaps you could actually provide that counter-voice instead.
Your word does carry some weight with the anti-Key brigade...
I think you are correct, Chris. Thank you.
Hi Chris, I just wanted to take issue, as well, with your use of statistics about nineteenth century mortality.
You say that thirty thousand Maori were killed or exiled as a result of the Musket Wars, and contrast that figure with the four thousand Maori and Pakeha who died in battles between Maori and the Crown between 1845 and 1872.
I don't think that either of those figures sounds inaccurate, and I don't doubt that more fighters died during the Musket Wars than the wars between the Crown and iwi that followed.
But it seems odd to me that you would include the Maori exiled from their rohe by fighting when you give figures for the victims of the Musket Wars, but not count the refugees from the wars between the Crown and iwi when you give figures for the victims of those wars.
After all, the wars in the Taranaki, the Waikato, and on the East Coast produced a tremendous number of refugees. Most of them were Maori, but more than a few were Pakeha.
A very large portion of the people of the Waikato were driven from their homes into the hills and gorges of the central north island by the invasion of 1863. Many of them died in exile, or only returned after the making of peace two decades later.
The Waikato War also emptied out a series of fledgling Pakeha villages and towns. Like Waikato civilians, Pakeha who fled the war often lost everything. After the town of Raglan was abandoned by settlers afraid of Maori attack, it was 'secured' by a garrison of drunken imperial soldiers who looted and burnt its empty homes.
The conflict in the Taranaki famously sent hundreds of prisoners south to Lyttleton and Dunedin, and the war on the East Coast saw hundreds of members of iwi like Rongawhakaata and Ngati Porou ending up in places like the King Country and the Coromandel.
I suspect that, in all, more than ten thousand people were displaced by the series of conflicts between the 1840s and 1870s.
work out that this equals an average of only 143 deaths a year, and then compare that modest number with the road toll in contemporary New Zealand.
But it's misleading to
I think it is problematic to compare the average yearly death toll from the wars 1845 and 1872 with today's road toll, and argue as a result that these wars were fairly small-scale affairs, because New Zealand's population is so much greater today than it was in the nineteenth century.
When the Waikato War, the largest of the conflicts between Maori and the Crown, was fought in 1863-64, New Zealand's total population was only about 170,000. There were roughly 80,000 Maori and perhaps 90,000 Pakeha.
Jamie Belich has pointed out that, in the context of such a small population, the Waikato War was a huge mobilisation of men and resources.
On Anzac Day, the appalling cost of World War One to New Zealand is often recalled. We lost sixteen thousand soldiers, when our total population was only a little more than a million.
But the fact that Maori suffered the same terribly high death rate during the Waikato War is seldom mentioned. Something like 1200 of their fighters died during 1863 and '64. That represented an extraordinary loss, and when we consider it together with the mass exile of Waikato civilians and the confiscation of three million acres by the Crown in 1865 we can begin to appreciate that, for the peoples of Tainui, the war against the Pakeha was every bit as traumatic as the earlier clashes with Hongi Hika's musket-armed raiders.
Most of the settlement in New Zealand was done after 1865. By then it was much too late for Maori to put up a credible defence, even though the British Army was relatively small. And we mustn't forget that in nineteenth century warfare – in fact right up to World War I. I do believe – more people died of disease and infection than actual fighting. So it's probably not a good idea to speculate on the number of people who died, no one took a census, lots of Maori probably just weren't counted, as no Pakeha ever saw their bodies. In the nineteenth century wars simply spread disease.
Chris, thank you for a thoughtful analysis.
I too, wasn't outraged at Key's statement because little contextual information was included in his utterance, nor provided by the MSM.
Your observations deal with comparisons within NZ's timeline. One ought also be cognisant of the broader global track-records of invasions, colonisation and mass migrations. Consider the count of displaced and dead from waves of Huns, Vandals, Mongols and other migrations into and through Europe. The death toll from expansion of the first Caliphates, the Crusades and religious progroms.
In terms of genocide look to both South and Central America. Ethnic cleansing still going on in Africa and even very recently into the heart of Europe.
A cursory look over the Tasman at their history is always sobering.
Context is everything, and in a global context, as well as within the NZ timeline as you point out, colonisation/usurpation of sovereignty (however one chooses to view the outcome), was remarkably peaceful.
Not many people know the following, but it deserves to be shown for comparison.
Following his first voyage, Christopher Columbus was appointed Viceroy and Governor of the (West) Indies.
By the end of his third voyage, accusations of Columbus' tyranny and incompetence had reached the Spanish Crown. Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand responded by removing Columbus from power.
A recently discovered report by de Bobadilla (Columbus' replacement as West Indies Governor) alleges that Columbus regularly used torture and mutilation to govern Hispaniola. The 48-page report contains testimonies, from both Columbus' enemies and supporters, about Columbus' and his brothers' treatment of colonial subjects during his seven-year rule.
For example, according to the report, Columbus once punished a man found guilty of stealing corn by having his ears and nose cut off and then selling him into slavery.
The document also describes how Columbus put down native unrest and revolt; he first ordered a brutal crackdown in which many natives were killed and then paraded their dismembered bodies through the streets in an attempt to discourage further rebellion.
Columbus's government was characterised by a form of tyranny. Is is estimated that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery, and deadly mining servitude.
Good to see you here.I think Chris's (understandable) irritation with the more condescending critics of Key has got the better of him.
Scott you are missing the point Chris made: RELATIVELY the takeover of these islands by the British Empire was peaceful. IN CONTEXT he is quite right and I admire his bravery in pointing this out, especially when people like you are bound to go for him & try and spin our history otherwise. Why? To show your wide reading?
For too long we just get this constant drip feed of spin from those who either have a bias, like the WT or their fingers in our wallets, like the tribes or seek to impose guilt for Maori dysfunction rates.
The history & The Treaty are interesting but they must not be allowed to undermine what our shared ancestors have achieved, which is a democracy and a thoroughly mixed origin population. We started with an imperial superpower deciding that for a change they would make the people they were taking over equal subjects, which was a great compliment I think in those days. And the locals mostly choosing to sign up to that, which was also a compliment, and wise. The locals being a fragmented collection of warlords, tiring of war and poverty. Neither party were democrats. They were, crudely, just the men with the guns.
And it worked, mostly. There was bloodshed, but much more intermarriage than conflict. And later we became a truly independent new nation.
AND a democracy. Leading up to that, was Maori men in 1867(!) being the first 'natives' to get the vote, even before NZ European men, let alone women.
So today all that is history and we would be mad to allow it to be re-litigated as it could undermine our democracy. In fact it has already to some extent.
So I expect you will disagree Scott, but I believe it is time to abolish the WT and to declare widely that the Treaty is part of our special history, not a currently relevant constitutional document. It cannot be, in a democracy. It was between pre-democratic, pre-nation parties of two separate races and cultures who no longer exist.
'A cursory look over the Tasman at their history is always sobering.'
Hi Richard, I agree that there's a contrast between the histories of Australia and New Zealand in the nineteenth century.
In Australia, wars of extermination were fought against Aboriginal peoples and tens of thousands of slaves were put to work in the sugar and pearl diving industries.
In New Zealand, by contrast, Maori had limited legal rights and even a few seats in parliament. With one exception, the Crown's military campaigns against Maori 'rebels' did not aim at the extermination of iwi.
But when we look at more of the details of our nineteenth century history, the contrast between Australia and New Zealand becomes less clear. We can find calls for the extermination of Maori in our nineteenth century newspapers and in the speeches of our politicians; and scholars like Christine Liava'a have discovered that, thanks to a conspiracy by a section of the Auckland bourgeoisie, Melanesian slaves were imported to New Zealand and put to work in the 1870s.
We know, as well, that scores of New Zealand schooners transported slaves to Queensland and other parts of the Pacific, and that few of their captains were ever brought to justice (cf http://readingthemaps.blogspot.co.nz/2014/10/islands-sailing-away.html)
The reasons for the differences between nineteenth century Australia and New Zealand are complex. I think, though, that the very ferocity of the wars between the Crown and Maori - a ferocity that Chris wants to deny - is one of the reasons why Maori were not, in the decades after the wars, as marginalised and brutalised as the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.
As James Belich has pointed out, the Northern War of the 1840s and the wars in Taranaki and the Waikato in the 1860s were not unambiguous victories for the Crown. The Waikato and much of Taranaki were conquered, thanks to the loan of a huge British army, but after the troops sailed off to their next colonial engagement Pakeha settlers were unable to complete the subjugation of rebellious Maori.
When Titokowaru and Te Kooti began new wars on opposite sides of he North Island in 1868, and London refused to despatch an army, Pakeha panicked. Proposals for the urgent importation of thousands of Sikh and Gukha soldier-settlers began to appear in newspapers and in political debates. The disintegration of Titokowaru's army in 1869 and the failure of Waikato to reenter the war saved Pakeha New Zealand.
Even more than a decade after 1869, though, much of the central North Island lay beyond the reach of the government in Wellington. Compromises had to be made before the island could be opened up. Maori were therefore able to hold on to some of their land and secure some legal rights and a modicum of representation in parliament.
There's no contradiction, then, in recognising that Maori fared better than the Aboriginal peoples of Australia in the nineteenth century and acknowledging the fierceness of the wars they fought with the Crown.
Quite agree Chris-I think that you have in general written a balanced account. I think its a bit rich for people to accuse Key of rewriting history when various people have been doing that for the last 30 or 40 years. Quoting people like Belich is also a bit rich in that 19th century historians although according to Belich were 'contaminated' with Victorian ideals at least had the advantage of being able to speak Maori and talked to many of the actual participants. I think that you estimate of Maori killed in the Musket wars is on the low side
and certainly the threat remained even after 1930. One only has to examine what Te Rauparaha was up to even after the Treaty to appreciate that.
First of all, Scott, I would like to thank you for your detailed response to this posting. Debates about New Zealand history are, sadly, rare outside the specialised communities of academia. Your considered contribution certainly warrants a considered reply.
Let me state at the outset that the broad contours of the Musket Wars are not seriously disputed by New Zealand historians. Over the forty years between 1800 and 1840 the acquisition of firearms by a steadily expanding fraction of the Maori population contributed to a truly horrific escalation in hostilities between iwi and hapu. If you will accept Te Ara as a credible representative of historical opinion, then the figure of 20,000 direct and related deaths does not appear to be an exaggeration.
Let us just examine one of the hundreds of campaigns waged during this period – the 1831 Ngati Toa raid against the Ngai Tahu settlement at Akaroa. Led by Te Rauparaha, the Ngati Toa war band reduced the Ngai Tahu presence on Banks Peninsula from a thriving community of around 2,000 persons to a bloodied remnant of approximately 200. Te Rauparaha’s genocidal tactics were dictated by his desire to wrest the lucrative greenstone trade from Ngai Tahu’s control.
Just take a minute to appreciate the impact of the Ngati Toa assault. Try to imagine how the Ngai Tahu people responded to this sudden and brutal reduction of their community by 90 percent. Now, to get some sense of what was happening across the rest of New Zealand, scale up their experience of trauma and loss by a factor of 100.
Pakeha New Zealanders are still living with the impact of losing 18,000 young men (1.8 percent of the then population of 1 million) between 1914 and 1918. One hundred years later people still gather in their thousands to recall and honour these losses. In practically every settlement of any size across New Zealand there is a memorial to the fallen. If this was the impact of losing 1.8 percent, it is difficult to conceive of the impact of loosing between one fifth and one third of the population.
This terrible loss of life was accompanied by the uprooting of iwi whose ancestors had occupied the land for hundreds of years. Te Rauparaha, himself, led a tribe which had been driven hundreds of kilometres from its homeland. His ruthless abrogation of all traditional rules and restraints was almost certainly a reaction to the Maori world being turned upside down.
Yes, by 1840 a rough “balance of terror” had been established and the Christian message of the missionaries was rapidly filling the religious void created by decades of ferocity and betrayal. This does not mean, however, that the effects of those years of slaughter and displacement were no longer at work in the minds of Maori leaders. Think of the huge pacifist movement that grew up in the West in the years following World War I. Ponder the vast surge of belief in spiritualism as bereft parents, siblings and spouses made desperate and doomed attempts to contact the dear departed.
Human-beings tend to behave in very similar ways to trauma and loss. One of their most consistent responses is to seek security and safety in the promises of persons and/or institutions powerful enough to credibly offer them both. By 1840, that sort of power all-too-evidently lay in the hands of the Pakeha. No, there were not that many of them actually present in New Zealand, but Maori leaders were under no illusions about the Pakeha’s limitless numbers nor their actual might. Don’t forget that by 1840 many Maori had crossed the Tasman to New South Wales – some had even been to London.
To suggest that those who signed the Treaty of Waitangi did not understand what they were surrendering their sovereignty is to imply that its signatories were “ignorant savages” whom Hobson and his entourage had somehow “tricked” into signing away their birthright. But that would be a gross calumny. The men who gathered at Waitangi on 6 February 1840 were seasoned warriors who had lived through years of death and devastation on a scale that, today, only elderly Russians can speak about with authority. The world of their childhood was gone; the fires of possession flickered wanly; the sails of unknown Pakeha nations’ ships could be seen on the horizon; the future was dark and filled with uncertainty.
What would you have done, Scott?
Scott and Chris
Thank you both for an interesting discussion, from which I have learned much.
"seasoned warriors who had lived through years of death and devastation" would no more have signed away their mana to a foreign power than the elderly Russians you mention Chris. Can you imagine Stalin or any of his generals giving away their motherland to the USA for protection?
If you signed a document that explicitly affirmed your political authority, after a speech that explained that the document was simply to allow the other party to control their own people, that doesn't mean you have ceded your authority. In fact the reverse. Even if you feared it was an attempt to hoodwink you.
there's a widespread belief amongst conservative New Zealanders that a generation of 'radical' historians, who are usually identified with Belich or with Michael King, hijacked the historiography of the wars between Crown and iwi in the 1970s, and imposed a new line that was much more sympathetic to the Maori who fought against the Crown.
Before that, allegedly, historians had happily conceded that Maori had ceded sovereignty when they signed the Treaty and that Crown was justified in waging war in the middle decades of the nineteenth century.
The conservatives who hark back this golden of pro-Crown historiography aren't keen on citations. That's not surprising, because the historians of earlier eras don't share their sanguine view of our nineteenth century history.
If we look back to the 1950s, when troublemaking scholars like Belich were not even born, we find Keith Sinclair writing The Origins of the Maori Wars, a book that condemned the invasion of the Waikato as a shabby land grab.
If we go back another forty years, we find James Cowan producing his monumental History of the New Zealand Wars, which is full of laments about the treatment of the Maori by rapacious colonialists.
And we take our time machine all the way back to the 1860s, and consult James Gorst's The Maori King, which was the very first book written about the Waikato War, we find an extended attack on the Crown and many passages of praise for King Tawhiao and his movement.
I think you misunderstand James Belich's contribution to the literature on the New Zealand Wars.
It's true that Belich criticises, in his book The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict, the notion, widespread amongst both the general public and scholars up until recently, that the Crown's victory over Maori was inevitable.
But this point of view, which Belich goes a long way towards discrediting (he may stretch a little far at times), shouldn't be confused with support for the Crown. It was quite possible for Cowan to lament the defeat of Maori and to believe that defeat inevitable.
The sort of theory that Chris has promoted in this post has its origins not in any part of the scholarly literature on nineteenth century New Zealand history, but in the reaction by conservative activists like Muriel Newman to the Maori renaissance of recent decades.
The difference, Nandor, is that you are equating a national entity, the Soviet Union/Russia, with a tribe or sub-tribe.
There is a very substantial anthropological and historical distinction to be drawn between these two entities.
There is plentiful evidence of warring tribes surrendering their independence to an all-conquering leader - the classic example being the Mongol war-lord Temujin (Genghis Khan).
Returning to your Russian example: by Christmas 1941 the Soviets had blunted the German advance into their homeland and by 1943 had taken the offensive against the invader. Two years later they were the masters of Eastern Europe.
If your analogy was to hold, then by 1840 the clear superiority of Maori arms over the British would have left them feeling confident and ready to take on the rest of the world.
Was that really the situation at Waitangi? Or were the exhausted tribes desperate to hold onto "their" Pakeha as the only reliable means of preserving their "lands, forests and fisheries"?
I think you know the answer to that.
"seasoned warriors who had lived through years of death and devastation" would no more have signed away their mana to a foreign power than the elderly Russians you mention Chris.
Moving to the next point, Andrew Geddis argues that it doesn't matter wheather they did or didn't: the state has sovereignty becuase it says it does and that is recognised in international law. Whats more the moral argument has to pit the interests of European descendants against claims by Maori descendants (the principle of a commons etc).
Of course a fella has to earn a living (treaty educator) but it is hoped you find something useful.
you've eloquently restated your belief that Maori signed the Treaty because they had been weakened by the Musket Wars and saw the British Crown as a bulwark against further conflict.
Let's test this theory by looking at a couple of events that occurred during the signing of the Treaty back in 1840.
If you're right, and the British Crown was offering a desperate Maori people shelter under its mighty wing, then we'd expect Hobson, who was selling the Treaty, to explain at every opportunity that chiefs who signed the document would be bound by British law and have access to British protection and justice.
But Hobson didn't do this. On the contrary, he repeatedly told chiefs who were considering signing the Treaty that they would not be subjected to British law. And on the rare occasions when a chief asked whether Britain would intervene in an inter-iwi dispute, Hobson and his aides were less than enthusiastic.
When Hobson met a large group of northern chiefs who had gathered at Hokianga to consider the Treaty, he told them that the document would give the British sovereignty over Pakeha living in New Zealand, but not over Maori. Hobson was hoping that his audience would appreciate the idea of the British Crown meting out some justice to the dodgy traders and sly groggers who had set up shop in the Bay of Islands by 1840. He knew, though, that the chiefs would refuse to sign the Treaty if they thought it would make them liable to obey British laws. They had said as much in a series of speeches.
Hobson’s visit to the Hokianga and his meeting with its chiefs was recorded in detail by John Hobbs. Anyone who reads Hobbs’ accounts of proceedings will very quickly see the difficulties raised by your claims about a Maori people desperate for the shelter of the British Empire.
There were, though, one or two Maori chiefs who did ask about the possibility of the British resolving their conflicts and protecting them. When Hobson’s aides Bunbury and Edward Williams sought signatures for the Treaty in Rotorua, many local chiefs were puzzled about the purposes of the document. They asked a series of questions about the extent of the powers it would give the Crown. Some of them asked whether Britain would provide them with protection from raids from foreign iwi, in return for their signatures. In response, Bunbury shook his head. The Crown, he said, could at most mediate between warring parties.
You claim that the Treaty was designed to place all of New Zealand under British law, and that Maori were very keen for this to happen. But an examination the behavior of both Maori chiefs and Hobson and his team suggests otherwise.
You suggest it’s an insult to say that many of the chiefs who signed the Treaty on February the 6th in Waitangi didn’t do so in an informed and far-sighted manner. But historians have shown that most of the chiefs who signed that day received only garbled oral translations of the text, and that many of them were anxious to leave Waitangi because they had run out of food and tobacco. Like our politicians today, or the senators of ancient Rome, they were more interested in their stomachs than in statesmanship.
Yes Chris I think you have a more likely take on what the Chiefs signing were thinking.
But in any case the Treaty is clear on the face of it so the parties inner thoughts are not relevant, although they are interesting to debate. The Treaty made them all one people, all British. That's it.
I once had a long conversation with a Ngai Tahu elder who told me all about the genocide you refer to, among other history I was utterly ignorant of. He said it was Tainui who were responsible. He told me his direct ancestors survived near Kaikoura by climbing the roughest steepest hills. When they returned all others, about 9 out of 10 or their rununga were dead. His family inherited most of the land there. But anyway I asked him if they sought revenge then, later or are still wanting it. He said 'oh no, not at all. Our people had previously been up north raiding & killing them! But then we became Christians & British after the Treaty so gave up that crap'.
Says it all really.
Damn good thing that Treaty and those behind it. But it did its job and is no longer relevant today I submit.
Not only that Scott but I think the missionaries were putting some spin on it as well. But the questions the chiefs asked show that they were not just "seasoned warriors" but pretty clever politicians as well. Unfortunately under the influence of Christianity though, so they listened to the missionaries a little too much maybe.
you begin by talking about how clear and simple the Treaty and nineteenth century New Zealand history are, and then tell porkies about Tainui and Ngai Tahu attacking each other during the Musket Wars.
As five minutes of internet research would have told you, Tainui never ventured anywhere near the South Island during the Musket Wars, and Ngai Tahu never raided Tainui territory. You're probably confusing Tainui with Ngati Toa, a completely different iwi with a completely different history. Can I suggest that history perhaps isn't quite as simple a game as you imagine?
The Waitangi Tribunal's finding that the Northern chiefs did not cede sovereignty with the signing of the Treaty is bewildering. If it wasn't sovereignty then what on earth were they signing up to? Why did Hoson greet each signatory chief in Maori with "Now we are one.."
Your criticism of the Tribunal finding, is on the button... John Key's too.
This ridiculous finding of the Tribunal is a reflection of the PC that has taken on a life of its own in this land. .
All of this nonsense of course is built on a compete misunderstanding of the Treaty of Waitangi which promises none of this twin sovereignties, co-governance, power-sharing, first-people/ last-people undemocratic stuff which accords a more important cultural status to a tangata whenua 'Maori' child born today than a tauiwi octogenarian of any other descent.
This mangling of the meaning of the simple Treaty, and the 'discovery' of its mysterious hidden truths and principles, is behind the quasi-religious nonsense that underpins the blessed habitats of unseen Taniwha on the Waikato River and to-be-located middens and whatever splattered across Auckland.... all of which unsurprisingly involve resolution with, ah, cash.
The knowledge of what is and isn't in the three small main paragraphs of the Treaty may prepare people for the first thousand page book interpreting the hidden meanings of the Treaty probably to be written by Claudia Orange to be read by 'settler' descendants wearing hair shirts.
The Treaty cannot support the constructions the Tribunal and others are heaping on it. It is not a complicated document. It is a simple one. It is time it was properly honoured!
Below is the last English Draft which was translated, accurately, into the Maori Treaty. No English draft; no Treaty! It is a simple document of inclusion, of oneness before a protecting law. Clearly its intent appealed to many Maori with vivid memories of the bloodletting of the Musket Wars.
Only glorious muddlease could find dual sovereignties in this document the way the Waitangi Tribunal has. I'd invite readers to see if they can.
February 4th 1840 ( The Final Draft Treaty of Waitangi)
"Her Majesty has accordingly been pleased to appoint Mr. William Hobson, a captain in the Royal Navy to be Governor of such parts of New Zealand as may now or hereafter be ceded to Her Majesty and proposes to the chiefs of the Confederation of United Tribes of New Zealand and the other chiefs to agree to the following articles.
"The chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes and the other chiefs who have not joined the confederation, cede to the Queen of England for ever the entire Sovreignty of their country. ( 'Sovreignty' a Busby error found in all the earlier drafts.)
"The Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs and the tribes and to all the people of New Zealand, the possession of their lands, dwellings and all their property. But the chiefs of the Confederation of United Tribes and the other chiefs grant to the Queen, the exclusive rights of purchasing such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to sell at such prices as may be agreed upon between them and the person appointed by the Queen to purchase from them.
"In return for the cession of their Sovreignty to the Queen, the people of New Zealand shall be protected by the Queen of England and the rights and privileges of British subjects will be granted to them.
"Signed, William Hobson
"Consul and Lieut. Governor.
"Now we the chiefs of the Confederation of United Tribes of New Zealand assembled at Waitangi, and we the other tribes of New Zealand, having understood the meaning of these articles, accept them and agree to them all. In witness whereof our names or marks are affixed. Done at Waitangi on the 6th of February, 1840."
Lots of interesting food for thought. I've been busy at The Standard laboriously making a very similar case to you Chris. The rather remarkable thing about that I keep seeing my opponents do is that in order to defend their current line they have to essentially reduce the Treaty from something that we can rightly point to as our nation's founding document, to a contradictory, expedient and shabby little con job that should well be chucked into the dustbin of history.
Kind of sad really.
Scott - I agree with some of what you say but the current beliefs are often so wrong-as an example-that Maori fought pakeha in the land wars. My great-grandfather fought against Te Kooti mainly because he had almost been murdered by him. 54 men woman and children, mostly Maori had been massacred and in the resulting battles the settlers (including my great-grandfather) were a small minority under the command of Major Ropata - so much fighting was still inter-tribal.
Of course to some extent it was a land grab but that view is to deliberately distort the differing views on land 'ownership' which to Maori meant hunting rights and to pakeha a vastly different thing. Many Maori used this difference to sell land several times or sub chiefs sold land that they had no right to sell. This shows not only human greed but also the differing concepts of land ownership. The idea currently being pushed of Maori good and Pakeha bad is a huge oversimplification of history which is really what Muriel Newman is fighting against-that and the present distortion of history. History is at present being distorted to win larger settlements. If you doubt that look at the extra money added to the Ngati Toa settlement 'for the loss of Cook Strait'.
Thank you for a civilised discussion on the topic.
According to folks like Charles and Alan, the Treaty is a simple document, which leaves no room for differing interpretations. And yet for one hundred and seventy-four years people have been arguing about what this supposedly simple text means.
Even at the beginning of the 1840s, Hobson's bosses in London couldn't agree on what the Treaty said. Some thought it opened the way to Pakeha settlement of these islands; some thought it did the opposite.
Within a few years, Pakeha settlers were at odds with British administrators over the Treaty. And of course Maori have been arguing with the Crown about the interpretation of the Treaty for more than a hundred and seventy years.
There are some obvious reasons why the Treaty's meaning isn't obvious. It was drawn up hurriedly, it exists in two versions, it contains ambiguous abstract nouns like 'sovereignty' that cry out for interpretation, and it was communicated to most of the people who signed it in a garbled manner.
But there's a more basic reason why the Treaty's meaning will never be settled. Like all texts, it underdetermines its interpretation.
As the great German hernmeneut Hans-Georg Gadamer pointed out, whenever we read an old text we bring to it aspects of our own situation and our own preoccupations. We can't do otherwise. When we read the Bible, or the Communist Manifesto, or the American Constitution, we do so through the lens of our own era and our own interests.
That doesn't mean that there aren't good and bad interpretations of an historical document, and that we shouldn't criticise those who produce bad interpretations.
Gadamer argued that to make a good interpretation of an old text we need both an awareness of our own perspective - a critical self-consciousness - and a detailed and respectful understanding of the era in which the text was produced. We need to recognise, in other words, our own subjectivity, while also respecting the integrity of the text.
I don't think that New Zealand's scholars have had trouble in achieving the sort of subtle and open-minded interpretations of old documents that Gadamer recommends. Conservatives bemoan the supposed anti-white bias of historians like Belich and Orange, but few of them have read those scholars' work. (The jibes about Belich being anti-British are particularly strange, given that he's ensconced in Oxford and that his most recent book was a quite sympathetic study of the men and women who settled the peripheries of Britain's Empire!)
I do think, though, that politicians on both the left and right of the political spectrum suffer from an authoritarian need to insist that documents like the Treaty have a simple and unchanging meaning.
On the right side of the spectrum, we've had the likes of Don Brash and Muriel Newman claiming that the Treaty is some sort of charter for a modern, Pakeha-dominated New Zealand capitalist state. I've tried to show how little sense that view makes in earlier comments to this thread. I suggest that anyone who wants to harp on about the Treaty creating one law for all look up the Juries Act of 1841, and read about how little interest the British had in subjecting Maori to London's rules.
On the left side of the spectrum we've had Hone Harawira, whose heart is in the right place, talking about the Treaty as a deal between a 'Maori nation' that patently did not exist in 1840 and the Crown.
In many ways these politicians' arguments resemble those of America's Constitutional Fundamentalists, who want to insist that their nation's founding document has a single simple meaning that hasn't changed since 1787.
Like all fundamentalisms, constitutional fundamentalism tends to make serious discussion difficult.
I will let those that have studied The Treaty in depth debate the meaning and intent of those involved some 8 generations ago and simply offer this thought....perhaps those who signed the Treaty were merely playing for time in the face of overwhelming odds...and the time is now.
"If it wasn't sovereignty then what on earth were they signing up to?"
I dunno, but sovereignty wasn't really a concept that existed in the Maori language. I notice your clauses from the treaty are all in English.
" Why did Hobson greet each signatory chief in Maori with "Now we are one.."
I don't know, and neither do you. If you'd heard as many speeches as I have it's probably just rhetoric – a nice thing to say.
As for Muriel Newman, she has a degree in mathematics or something? Plus of course she is a founding member of act. That certainly gives her opinions a little bit of bias. Why on earth should I take her word over that of reputable historians? There seems to be a feeling that every man and his dog is equally capable of assessing history. Not true :-).
I did think the probably the most disturbing aspect of the recent Waitangi Tribunal finding was that they said that oral history by Maori was far more believable than any written history by Pakeha.
Perhaps I have not got the wording exactly right but seemed to be thrust of what they were saying-if so that is deeply disturbing especially coming from people(at least in two cases) who consider themselves to be historians.
By the time we have analyzed, evaluated, and framed the Treaty of Waitangi in its historical and cultural perspective, then qualified our views of it by acknowledging our own political/racial/educational prejudices, we’ll all be cross-eyed and cerebrally constipated.
Learned dissertations on words like ‘sovereignty’ can create heated debate, where the winner is the last one awake.
The Treaty is a simple document. Its message is an inclusive one; one citizenship under one law for ‘all the people of New Zealand’. You can’t provide this without one over-arching, law-enforcing, sovereign authority.
Whilst this history revision is interesting, perhaps all participant could do a 180 degree turn and take a look into the future.
Can a democracy (as expounded by one man/woman;one vote) exist based on two separate race based entities having equal shares in governance? Where one entity at roughly 18% of the vote but has 50% of the "power"?
Maybe Chris could write a column on how he sees this new interpretation of treaty has practical application in the future.
Will we still have a democracy based on equality or will there be racial seperatism?
The ease to argue the he said, she said revisionism of the past is interesting but pointless if you cannot paint a picture of how the future will be shaped with the stance you take on the past.
Personal opinion is that for a democratic state to exist in New Zealand, the treaty needs to be consigned to the annuals of time and discarded for a new constitution. Having said that, the constitutional reform committee is so adamant in trying to maintain the treaty in a new constitution that I doubt we will ever see a constitution.
How do others see the future?
Jigsaw is certainly not a historian. If he was he would realise that research has shown that oral history is remarkably accurate as long as it is recounting events that the subject parted. Less accurate if recounting events they heard of. Probably just as accurate as something relying on 19th-century documents, and written accounts, (which often have their own personal biases.) Particularly as non-literate societies valued accurate memories more than literate ones. I think jigsaw that you are a little too quick to jump in and denigrate Maori culture. You are doing pretty much the same as you accuse other people of doing with European culture. Still – I doubt you'll change.
I haven't read the Tribunal's report, but there isn't necessarily a simple distinction that can be drawn between oral and written history, especially when the New Zealand Wars are concerned.
James Cowan, whose massive history of the wars is still an essential resource, did much of his research by interviewing elderly survivors. If someone cites Cowan's account of the battle of Orakau, which draws on interviews with survivors, are they relying on oral history, or written history? It isn't easy to say. The dichotomy collapses.
Cowan's technique went out of fashion for decades, as historians like Keith Sinclair focused on textual sources, but it was revived in a more sophisticated way in the 1970s and '80s by Judith Binney, whose epic biography of Te Kooti leans heavily on oral tradition. http://readingthemaps.blogspot.co.nz/2009/12/why-we-need-judith-binney.html
Oral history can be incredibly unreliable, as I found out last year when I visited the Tongan island of 'Eua with a group of students and we collected half a dozen different accounts of the same incident, which occurred not in the 1800s but the 1940s!
But written history is also often difficult to use, because the documents that have come down to us from the past - letters, legal writs, royal proclamations, and so on - were often composed by individuals who were uninterested in telling the truth. Just like orally communicated stories, these documents have to be interrogated and tested.
SETTING THE SCENE: The Debate so far.
For CHRIS, the Waitangi Tribunal's assertion that Maori never ceded sovereignty constitutes a "radically revisionist" interpretation of New Zealand history, completely at odds with the "settled view" of more than 150 years of historical research. A crucial element of this "settled view", he argues, is that Maori chieftains knew exactly what they were agreeing to at Waitangi in 1840, that they surrendered their sovereignty willingly.
JIGSAW agrees but seems to implicitly (perhaps without realising ?) take issue with Chris's notion of a "settled view" by arguing that "it's a bit rich for people to accuse Key of rewriting history when various people have been doing that for the last 30 or 40 years."
SCOTT strongly disagrees with both gentlemen, arguing that these theories "owe less to the scholarship of our historians" or, alternatively, do not have their origins "in any part of the scholarly literature", but rather owe more to "the press releases" and reaction to the Maori renaissance of "conservative activists like Muriel Newman" and "some of her friends on the far Right."
In particular, Scott takes issue with what he calls "a widespread belief amongst conservative New Zealanders" that a generation of radical historians hijacked the Treaty historiography during the 1970s (and thereafter). For Scott, the idea of a pre-1970 Golden Age of "pro-Crown" historiography is a myth. Citing James Cowan and Keith Sinclair, he argues that early and mid 20C historians did not, in fact, happily concede that Maori had ceded sovereignty in 1840.
Right, so having outlined a core part of the debate, here, I'm going to take issue with all three participants mentioned. Their characterisation of the historical literature is too simplistic (although Scott partially makes up for it with a 27 Nov 12:33 intervention that seems considerably more nuanced than his sweeping statements in earlier comments).
Part Two: coming up.
They may not have known the exact meaning of sovereignty but they obviously knew what they were getting into-any other opinion is to cast them as gullible idiots and they certainly were not. Some people seem to consider only people who have a degree as being able to be considered 'historians' what a bizarre idea when many of them hold opinions that are so far out of whack with reality as I just detailed. How come in 1860 at the meeting in Kohimarama that the majority of chiefs who had signed 20 years before considered themselves satisfied with the Treaty?
I don't believe that a "settled view" (which accepts Maori ceded sovereignty) continues to be dominant among historians and that the Waitangi Tribunal's finding is therefore "radically Revisionist" (as Chris would have it).
Nor, though, do I believe the opposite: that Chris's views are only held by the "far right", that pre-1970 scholars were just as likely as contemporary ones to doubt that Maori knew what they were agreeing to in 1840, and that any idea of a new "pro-Maori" phase of Treaty historiography emerging in the 1970s is a mere paranoid flight of fancy by uber-conservatives (Scott's perspective).
I'd suggest the conventional view identifies two broad phases: Pre-1970 and Post-1970.
The pre-1970 consensus among New Zealand historians (founded on the seminal work of William Pember Reeves in the late-Victorian era and T. Lindsay Buick in the early 20C) accepted that Maori had, indeed, willingly ceded sovereignty. It's fair to say that there were only one or two exceptions to this consensus (eg Prof James Rutherford in 1947).
Scott mentions James Cowan (who, incidently, was seen by contemporaries as unusually sympathetic to the Maori viewpoint) and Keith Sinclair but says nothing about their views specifically on the Treaty.
The post-1970 phase, in which scholarship about the meaning and effect of the treaty shifted markedly (influenced as it increasingly was by a Maori perspective), probably began in earnest with Ruth Ross's highly-influential 1972 NZJH article in which she stressed the "confusion" and "undue haste" surrounding the Treaty negotiations (over the conventional idea of a solemn, well-considered far-reaching blueprint) and placed an emphasis on the importance of the Maori Text and Maori understandings of the Treaty.
This influenced a whole new generation of "Revisionist" historians (as they've sometimes been called) as well as providing ammunition to the new generation of 1970s Maori activists.
Overall, there was a broad move toward an understanding that the Treaty existed in two distinct languages and that there may have been a clash in cultural assumptions.
It'd be wrong, though, to talk about a "New Orthodoxy" among historians. For one thing, many in this new generation of "Revisionists" actually took a quite nuanced approach and disagreed among themselves on a whole range of aspects - the English Text, the Maori Text, Were the British being deliberately Deceitful in the Text, Were the British being Deceitful in the oral discussions at Waitangi and elsewhere (and did these, in fact, comprise the REAL historical Treaty), Were some important Crown figures being misleading/deceitful but not others, Was there simply mistranslation or perhaps an understandable positive gloss that fell short of outright deceit, Did some rangatira understand British intentions fully but not others ?,Were the intentions behind the Treaty - and its current meaning - clear and concise or uncertain, divided, ambiguous, contradictory ? and so on.....
For another, there is a distinct group of historians (and other scholars) - sometimes referred to as "Neo-Traditionalists" - who forcefully maintain that Maori were not in any way "duped", that they did, indeed, agree to cede full and ultimate control to the Crown. Rather than ignoring the Maori text (as pre-1970s historians tended to do), they've actually employed it to make their argument. (I would say that "Neo-Traditionalist" Lyndsay Head's work from the late 90s / early zeros is quite close to both Chris's and (at The Standard) RedLogix's arguments - the thesis that The Musket Wars created massive social disruption and strife - leading a smart, rational, forward-thinking, if exhausted, rangatira to embrace a modernity and 'westernisation' that would repress inter-tribal warfare).
Diogenes was a Greek philosopher who if you said "Good morning" to, in Greek of course, would tie you in knots by questioning what you actually meant by 'good', how you felt it applied to him, how it related to others, and so on.... and on.
Thank God he didn't have a Treaty of Waitangi to dissect for meaning.
Reading much of the above puts me in mind of him. For some reason he was not very popular. People didn't really understand him. He lived in a jar.
Today he'd live in a fine house and be a lawyer.
Is reading and understanding what the simple Treaty says and intends that difficult?
I prefer to leave my history to people with the relevant qualification, just as I prefer to have my car serviced by a mechanic, my body serviced by a doctor or a dentist, and my space shuttles designed by engineers and scientists. :-) There are far too many people around doing "history" with an agenda. These agendas range from revising the treaty, to a pre-Maori Celtic settlement of New Zealand. I also, funnily enough prefer history about Maori to come from people with a reasonably deep understanding of the culture, and the language. I'm not saying that amateurs have not made valid contributions, but I think we should take them with a pinch of salt at least initially. Particularly as many of these findings are used by racists to justify their peculiar opinions.
Ah, Keith Sinclair – memories, memories. He was at the very least a man of his time – very Eurocentric. He also wrote very bad poetry. I was once admonished by him for daring to suggest that perhaps South and Central American civilisations were at least the equal of ancient Greece. I see that modern scholarship has proved me right on him wrong :-).
Well that rules out you writing anything more about history Chris unless you have degree in history, any more writing to do with economics is obviously out for the same reason and as for Grant Robertson being in charge of finance with a degree in English......(unlike Bill English who worked for the Treasury) Notice how GS has all the bias only on one side-curious that! Also a nice sidestep on my point that the Tribunal said that oral history about an event 164 years ago is more reliable than what was written down by pakeha who were actually there.
Anyway GS seems to be in the medical field so we can at least be spared his opinions on anything else from this point onwards!
Let me also just say that Paul Moon is by no means alone in his trenchant criticism of the historical interpretations produced by the Waitangi Tribunal.
In his seminal 2001 essay 'The Future Behind Us', Bill Oliver (who, along with Sinclair, was the doyen of academic NZ historical studies in the 50s and 60s) took issue with the Claudia Orange notion (largely applied by the Tribunal in its conclusions) that a particular "spirit" underlay the Treaty.
He argued that the Tribunal was creating a "retrospective utopia". By applying contemporary political ("Presentist") concerns and values to very distant historical events, the Waitangi Tribunal, according to Oliver, appeared to be in the business of creating Treaty-based counter-factuals that were "unrealistic, ahistorical and utopian."
Other historians like Keith Sorrenson, Michael Belgrave and Lyndsay Head, herself, have also questioned the academic integrity of the history produced by the Tribunal.
The latter two, for example, have both argued that the concept of Rangatiratanga in 1840 did not have the meaning accorded to it by some modern scholars and commentators who have greatly influenced the Tribunal.
But maybe the most trenchant criticism of the validity of Tribunal historiography came from (the then youngish Vic Uni historian) Giselle Byrnes.
She began to question the history being produced while working at the Tribunal as a researcher in the 90s. Byrnes then wrote a series of critiques, before publishing her 2004 book 'The Waitangi Tribunal and New Zealand History'.
She argued that, far from writing sober, objective history, the Tribunal's reports were value-laden, deeply politicised and overwhelmingly Presentist, inherently infused with post-colonialist ideology and committing the ultimate faux pas of judging the distant past by the standards of the present.
It was a particular concern, she suggested, because the Tribunal had become a nursery for the re-writing of New Zealand history and hence ultimately had an unusually wide readership among the general public.
Byrnes argued that Tribunal historiography has a strong Maori bias, privileging Maori evidence over Pakeha and championing or advocating the Maori Nationalist cause.
Ultimately, the bias and politicism, she suggests, can be traced back to the Waitangi Tribunal's governing legislation which requires it to have a quasi-judicial role. "if you don't read the reports alongside the legislation - it does look like it's very biased history."
And I really don't think anyone could ever accuse Byrnes or Oliver or the other academic critics of tribunal history as emerging from "the Far Right" or uber-conservative circles. Quite the opposite.
"Is reading and understanding what the simple Treaty says and intends that difficult?"
Yes. It's not simple.We are trying to interpret something that was written over 100 years ago and read the minds of those who constructed it and signed it. If you think that's simple.....
I'm afraid that your command of ancient Greek thought might be as shaky as your knowledge of nineteenth century New Zealand history. It was Cratylus, rather than Diogenes, who was preoccupied with the impossibility of understanding apparently simple phrases like 'Good morning'. Diogenes wasn't interested in such subtle discourses: he tended to respond to intellectual argument by dropping his pants. I can see why he might appeal to you.
Let me do my best imitation of Cratylus and try once more to convince you that the Treaty isn't quite as simple as it may seem to you.
You've talked about the document's references to New Zealand and New Zealanders but, as Paul Moon and other historians have noted, those words had very different meanings in 1840 than they do today. Back then, 'New Zealanders' was always a synonym for Maori. It was never stretched to cover the Pakeha who were beginning to settle these islands.
A few years ago Paul Moon had a long and fruitless online debate with Ross Baker, the head of the One NZ Foundation, which thinks whites are the indigenous people of NZ and that the UN and Maori are plotting to take over the country.
Moon tried hard to explain to Baker that the words 'New Zealand' and 'New Zealanders' had to be understood in an historical way, and offered quotes from early nineteenth century texts to try to underline his points. Baker wouldn't listen, and eventually accused Moon of being involved in a sinister and far-reaching conspiracy designed to cover up the simple and self-evident meaning of the Treaty.
The only way that Baker could hold onto his belief that he possessed the single true meaning of the Treaty was to decide that everybody else was involved in a conspiracy against him. The alternative of admitting that other people might quite reasonably have developed other opinions, was too hard to bear. Ultimately, fundamentalism is a rather sad condition.
thanks for those comments about the state of academic play when it comes to the Treaty. You're quite right to note that I was conflating the debates about the New Zealand Wars with those about the Treaty. I've been obsessed for a long time with the Waikato War, but the Treaty has never really raised my heart rate.
I may have overegged my argument, but I think I'm correct when I say that a series of very distinguished New Zealand scholars, from Gorst in the 1860s to Cowan early in the twentieth century to Sinclair in the fifties, have sympathised with Maori who fought against the Crown and criticised the motives of the Auckland politicians and businessmen who precipitated the invasion of the Waikato. That's why I'm always bemused when I hear conservative Kiwis complaining about the supposed hijacking of New Zealand history by the likes of Belich and King in the '70s and '80s.
But I wouldn't want to replace the myth of a lost golden age of New Zealand historiography, which is so sadly popular amongst conservatives, with a new myth of agreement between scholars. As you point out, our scholars are continually arguing with one another - and that is as it should be.
I take your point about the existence of a neo-traditionalist school of scholarship on the Treaty, and of the similarities between the arguments of this school and the points that Chris and Redlogix have made here and elsewhere.
But I'd also insist that there is a radical difference between the neo-traditionalists and the group of pseudo-historians - people like Newman, John Ansell, Martin Doutre, Allan Titford, and so on - who insist that the Treaty was merely a sort of early draft of Don Brash's speech to the Orewa Rotary Club. I've written far too much about these folks in the past, so I'll just offer a link: http://books.scoop.co.nz/2008/11/18/no-to-nazi-pseudo-history-an-open-letter/
Alan, well said.
It is not necessary to try to discover what the Treaty meant in 1840, however interesting it is. We clearly cannot know, as many self-appointed historians show us, despite their eloquence. In law (most cultures' law) that means it is void. A nullity. At best, in law it means the simplest account of what is on the face of it Scott. No good? Then void it is. So my Maori story teller and his ‘porkies’ are as good as your version at the end of the day.
As I and others wiser have said I think it was a brave and humane attempt to have a less bloody takeover of these islands by a superpower, coinciding with the local warlords tiring of civil war, and fearful of complete annihilation. Those who signed were not remotely democratic, as we are now. So we are not bound by them. Being bound by ancestors is a poor idea, responsible for huge bloodshed.
That Treaty was a novel and model start for this nation but now let's accept this document has nothing constitutional to say today, now that we really are mostly one people, blended from two original races/cultures but many more since. These mixed bloodlines show us there is no such thing as a separate race. There is only culture and ours is now overwhelmingly ‘New Zealish’: A blend consisting of a very small, yet still loud Maori culture and a much larger, and growing Pakeha one. Most Maori today have been brought up in a mainly Pakeha culture and have more Pakeha ancestors than Maori, so they are bi-cultural. Most Pakeha are not bi-cultural, and that causes friction still but it should fade. As time passes more of us will be similar, which means inevitably Maori Culture will be diluted & consumed by our history, like the Treaty already has been.
"As the great German hernmeneut Hans-Georg Gadamer pointed out, whenever we read an old text we bring to it aspects of our own situation and our own preoccupations."
In the sense in which this should be taken, the point is trivial. Yes, we can't be sure of what other people mean, but that's a feature of all communication, written or verbal. Some really crappy continental philosophers have attempted to spin this into grand theories, but serious philosophers tend to regard them as frauds.
As usual jigsaw you have managed to obfuscate and misinterpret everything I said. Everyone is entitled to an opinion about anything. Even if it is uninformed. If it is uninformed people will pick holes in it. Free speech has consequences, and you may not like them.
I never said anything about ministers of the Crown having qualifications, they are political appointment and presumably get advice from properly qualified people. I also said that amateur historian sometimes make a contribution. But they are often people with a distinct axe to grind as with Ross Baker. Not to mention those who look at natural rock formations and claim they were built by ancient Celts :-). So again your sarcasm is sort of wasted. And if you read my post carefully, which you obviously didn't I said that research has shown that oral history is accurate, as long as it's about things that people actually went through. But even so if it's passed down it's still not that inaccurate. And oral history is often written down anyway. That's what witnesses are. But as I said, non-literate societies value accurate memory. And despite my username, I am not a surgeon, nor a guerrilla. If you knew a great deal about history as you suggest, you'd realise it's the title of a book. I do however have a number of degrees in history :-).
It seems to me that people like you who need to believe certain things do tend to cling to fringe versions of science or history or anthropology or whatever. Still – chin up – Google the Dunning- Kruger effect. You will be enlightened.
you seem to have veered, in a couple of days, from an insistence on the absolute clarity of the past to claims that it's completely unknowable. Remind me never to get in a car with you.
I'm afraid that we do know a bit about the past, and you and your mate in Kaikoura can't just make up stories about Tainui invading the South Island and expect to be taken seriously. There are two book-length studies of the Musket Wars and numerous shorter texts on the subject. Have a read of Ron Crosby's The Musket Wars, which offers a very detailed chronology of the conflicts, and you'll appreciate how ridiculous it is to suggest that Tainui was rampaging around Te Wai Pounamu in the nineteenth century.
If you sincerely want to improve relations between different ethnic groups in this country, then you could begin by refraining from promoting false stories about them.
I don't see how the fact that the underdetermination of meaning is a feature of all forms of communication - and I agree that it is - rather than just some, renders it 'trivial'. Surely the opposite is true?
I think you ought to beware of constructing your own sweeping theory about the nature of continental philosophy. Does Gadamer have much in common with, say, Derrida or Foucault? I can't stand old Jacques, by the way.
I'm not sure Sinclair was a consistently bad poet. His early poem
'Memorial to a Missionary', about Thomas Kendall, has often been anthologised and seems to stand up well. Some of his other early poems, like the long and ambitious 'Ihumatao', are fascinating precisely because they don't really succeed.
I don't think Sinclair took poetry so seriously in middle and old age, but as a young man he, Robert Chapman, and the great Kendrick Smithyman developed, from their base in Point Chevalier, a detailed critique of the poetics that Curnow and Brasch had been promoting in the South Island, and an alternative programme.
Sinclair, Chapman and Smithyman disliked Curnow and co's talk of empty plains and lonely mountains, and felt that such rhetoric reflected a Cantabrian indifference to these islands' Polynesian history. In response the young Point Chevalierians dubbed themselves the 'Mangrove poets', and vowed to write about the peopled, historic landscapes of northern New Zealand.
Smithyman was the only one of the three who became a major poet, but Sinclair surely deserves a footnote in our literary history.
I haven't read most of the reports of the Tribunal, and when I do read them I'm usually after primary material - firsthand descriptions of a battle or old maps of timber mills and so on - so I can't really hope to refute your claims about the Tribunal's bias.
But I can't help thinking of the Tribunal's Rekohu Report, which I have read carefully, when I see you talk about a pro-Maori bias. That Report rejected Maori attempts to write Moriori out of history, and put Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama in their place. It seemed to me a fascinating, courageous, and also intellectually creative document.
Hi Scott, my opinion of Sinclair's poetry is probably coloured by my dislike of the man himself, though supported by various English graduates at the time, and at least one reviewer described it as "verse rather than poetry." :-)
I think we writing light verse, almost, in his final decades. But 'Ihumatao' is fascinating: he's wandering around the shore of the Manukau harbour, over the sites of ancient kainga of the Waiohua people that were evacuated and looted during the early stages of the Waikato War, and had been occupied and turned into dairyland by Pakeha, and trying - I think - to reconcile the pastoral beauty he finds with his knowledge of history - and he's doing it all with the heavy, rather unsuitable rhythms and in the portentous tone of Dylan Thomas. I think that a failed poem like 'Ihumatao' can sometimes be more interesting than a success.
I mean to say that Sinclair, Smithyman, and Chapman called themselves the Mudlfats rather than the Mangrove School of Poetry.
Did you know Mike Stenson when you were studying with Sinclair? A sort of struggle over that man's soul is supposed to have been waged by Sinclair and his enemies, the young Marxist scholars of the U of A, in the '70s. Sinclair seems to have lost, but wrote a long elegy for Stenson after his sudden death in Burma at the end of the decade.
Are any of the above commenters Maori? Are any of the citations written by Maori? One doesn't have to be Maori to have an informed opinion on New Zealand history but this seems like a very one-sided discussion to me. Pakeha commenters, Pakeha citations (even ancient Greek and German philosophers and historians are cited, Colombus gets a mention too and other Pakeha). The above is interesting reading but have any of you read any Maori historians, Maori written and oral historical accounts, familiar with tikanga Maori, the Maori world view, Maori psychology, speak te reo Maori or at least know the meaning of words such as 'mana' 'tino rangatiratanga'? I've enjoyed the discussion but the semantic quibbling is very monocultural.
I do read your posts(GS) but you do seem to miss the point - much as you accuse me. Paul Moon (perhaps you doubt his qualifications....)said that the Tribunal had 'cherry picked the facts' and come to the wrong conclusion. You are however quite right when you say that people use history to grind axes and none more than those who are paid by the tribes who submit to the Tribunal and who do it for a fee. There are examples of those who say that their research was turned down and not used by the submitters as it didn't fit their case and you will of course be aware that there is no cross examination allowed at the Tribunal-at least not when a tribe has a case against the Crown anyway. As for your assertion that that orally transmitted memories are as reliable or reliable at all - that is clearly untrue and provably so. Of course written recall can also be defective depending on who wrote and the reason for writing it. Historians are not immune to bias - no matter how reputable. In an email Anne Salmond discounted the memories of chiefs about 1840 when recorded in 1860 as being unreliable since they couldn't have remembered what happened 20 years before-hardly a recommendation for oral history. You do seem to be grasping at straws GS but then I guess that comes from defending the indefensible. I would be interested in hearing your opinion of Ranginui Walker -a man who has publically declared that there is no evidence whatever that Maori were ever cannibals. He of course was a member of the Tribunal which bought down the decision we are discussing.
I was trying to make the point that communicating with people involves communicating with people... at levels they relate to. Hence my use of dear old unwashed Diogenes, the cynic. The point didn't relate to Greek Philosophy 101, it related to The Treaty of Waitangi; this point being Scott that some join a debate not with the prime purpose of enlightening others, but to levitate above them and bamboozle with a smorgasbord of learned input that makes the levitator feel good, impressive,.... and perhaps superior?
After all. No one can show that parallel universes do or don't exist, but they could be debated ad nauseum.
'...the chiefs and tribes and (to) all the people of New Zealand,,' are, ipso facto, ALL the people of New Zealand, in 1840, dominantly Maori of course. When you say that 'all New Zealanders' could not be 'stretched to cover Pakeha who were beginning to settle these islands', who said so? What other meaning could you attach to 'all New Zealanders'? After all this was about creating some sort of agreed governance framework for the whole country. Wasn't it? Surely? Isn't that what the idea was?
The Treaty is a plain and simple document with the intent of establishing, with agreement, some credible governance structure with a common citizenship in a lawless land, in spite of the best efforts of the Waitangi Tribunal and the Ivory Tower dismemberists who ignore common sense in favour of eloquence and paraded learning.
The Waitangi Tribunal is probably correct. There were two versions of the Treaty the English and Maori one. Almost all the Maori tribes and chieftans only signed the Maori script which ceeded far fewer rights and in their idea maintained their sovereignty. The conservative law lecturers and professors at Canterbury University Stockley, Joseph, Round and possibly Chetwin always claimed the Maoris had no real concept of Sovereignty or Nationhood and when it was ceded could not be taken back- although the Baltic states obviously have. My own view is that New Zealand itself is hardly sovereign as its white leaders and people have no genuine national identity , does not really control its own foreign policy or defence policy which is directed mainly by the US and Australia and an entirely unelected small elite of foreign service and intelligence officers. The ordinary people in themselves are too limited to be regarded as sovereign be they maori or european.
Alright, Scott and GS, that's enough.
The whiff of intellectual snobbery is growing stronger with every post.
Repair to the nearest University Common Room, order a couple of tall ales, and rip the reputations of great New Zealand scholars to pieces at your leisure.
Honestly, I sometimes wonder whether this country's academic community is capable of anything else!
Jesus fuck – first time I've been chided/threatened for being too intellectual :-).
fair point, but isn't the dichotomy between European and Polynesian cultures and intellectual traditions itself a little conservative? Futa Helu, who founded the little school in Tonga where I taught last year, believed so - he was a scholar of Greek philosophy who wanted to blend it with Polynesian thought: http://www.publicfilms.co.nz/?page_id=411 If references to European thinkers are a sign of Eurocentrism, then we'll have to rule Helu, Te Rangi Hiroa, Barry Barclay and scores of other Polynesian scholars out of court.
You must have skipped the middle of the discussion, Chris, where I cited Keith Sinclair's Origins of the Maori Wars as a lastingly valuable work of scholarship.
I've been arguing that in the early 1840s the Treaty was intended by the Brits as a way of bringing Maori and Pakeha under one legal system and, in most cases, under one government. That's why pieces of legislation like the 1841 Juries Act treat Maori and Pakeha so differently, rather than providing 'one law for all'. By and large, the British initially wanted to leave the administration of justice and most other forms of administration in the hands of Maori chiefs. That changed later, thanks largely to the influence of colonial governments.
I mentioned Paul Moon's opinion that terms like 'New Zealanders' referred to Maori in 1840 because Moon isn't usually a scholar who gets accused of sins like political correctness and left-wing bias. He's a conservative Protestant and an advocate of neo-liberal capitalism. He wouldn't agree with many of the arguments that people like and Guerrilla Surgeon have made here.
But it seems as though, in your book, Moon is just another 'Ivory Tower disrememberist' lacking in 'common sense'.
Moon cites texts from the 1830s and '40s in support of his claim that terms like 'people of New Zealand' referred to Maori, rather than Maori and the small number of Pakeha who then resided here.
If you can find some references to the term being used differently in our old newspapers and in early accounts of life here, then you should share them. (A lot of those papers and books are online now, thanks to the magic of Papers Past.)
SCOTT: ".....I can't really hope to refute your claims about the Tribunal's bias.....when I see you talk about a pro-Maori bias....."
You may be confusing me here, Scott, with Giselle Byrnes, Bill Oliver and a number of other academic historians (some, like Byrnes, former Tribunal researchers themselves). I've simply tried to outline, here, their trenchant critiques of Tribunal historiography and what they obviously believe to be its systematic bias / distortion / simplification.
"That report rejected Maori attempts to write Moriori out of history..."
Fair enough. But ultimately that's peripheral. It really doesn't deal with the central claim by academic critics that the Tribunal places much more emphasis and weight on Maori evidence/claims/stories than Pakeha/European ones. And that Maori vs Euro dynamic is, after all, the core feature of its deliberations.
Yes jigsaw I have heard of Moon. I didn't realise he was a right-wing fundamentalist Protestant however. But then I should have, because he once described Oliver Cromwell as "the most devout and enlightened Christian leader in England's history" because he allegedly abolished Christmas and Easter. That to me shows he is capable of the most enormous bias :-). He also seems to be an advocate of epigenetics, a decidedly unproven idea.
I also know that his work on cannibalism has been – quite rightly in my opinion – criticised for concentrating on the period of the musket wars, a period of dislocation and general chaos. As you know, the cannibalism trope is used by nut jobs to denigrate Maori or at least those that existed before we "civilised" them. You seem remarkably ignorant on the websites that propagate this bullshit. That is I guess to your credit. You have no doubt seen my bog standard reply to this that – as Europeans used human body parts in medicines well into the nineteenth century they were also cannibals. Using the same magical thinking it seems to me.
I somehow doubt that Ranginui Walker is ever said that cannibalism didn't take place. There is it seems to me plenty of evidence for it. But not on a huge scale pre-contact. But I'm not an expert and if you care to give me a reference I will gladly read it.
You are confused, I am clear as anyone can be about the meaning of the Treaty: It is either very simple, indeed simplistic, as a surrender document if you like, or it is void due to being uninterpretable which is what you and other historians seem to show it as.
Either way it tells us nothing today and should be put back in the draw, to allow us to move on with modern, democratic and entire mixed race NZ.
Re my elder Maori source and his defamation of Tainui. Did he perhaps mean Te Rauparaha was Tainui, seeing as they were from Waikato? Anyway I accept he got the invading genocidal maniacs' actual tribal identity wrong but that was not his point was it? He was merely pointing out that murdering the people over the hill was what they USED to do, but no more. And he gave credit for that to this Treaty bit of paper and Christianity. Two ticks for those Pakeha introduced things wouldn't you say?
If the treaty is so simple Charles, fine but in that case it's been broken by the government many times. Particularly the clause that said Maori get to keep all their stuff.
Guerilla Surgeon is not quite right about the 'clause that said Maori get to keep all their stuff.'
The Second Article of the Treaty 'guarantees to the chiefs and tribes and to all the people of New Zealand the possession of their lands, dwellings and all their property.' All the people of NZ get to keep their stuff.
The First Article however speaks of the signatory chiefs ceding to the Crown 'forever the entire sovereignty of their country.'
This is the important bit. If you don't agree with this bit well you don't sign and the other bits don't apply. If you do sign and then don't consider the words mean you've given anything of your power system away, then what exactly have you offered to get Article Three's 'the rights and privileges of British subjects..' ?
Right back to the original Trotter post...
The question goes begging..
To know what the Maori thought they were ceding Allen one has to go to the Maori version of the Treaty. Not quite sure what you mean by begging the question – a referring to the logical fallacy?
I should maybe raise the question of what was meant by "the peoples of New Zealand." Considering that Europeans were generally regarded as British at the time, rather than New Zealanders.
So, the first article trumps the second article and the carrot for compliance is the third article. Just imagine how important, how enticing, how relevant the third article must have been to Maori back then. Sovereignty, now there’s a term that must have held great meaning back to Maori back then also. But at least Maori got to keep their stuff - their land, possessions and so forth, not that that appears to be of great importance relative to gaining sovereignty and certain rights and privileges. I can feel a ‘yeah right’ coming on.
Charles thinks that the Treaty helped end inter-iwi warfare in the South Island. That would be a difficult argument to make in any detail, because the island's last armed inter-iwi conflict - a bizarre and pathetic but very instructive affair - occurred in 1836, when the Treaty was not even a twinkle in Hobson's eye.
The 1836 clash was provoked by Te Puoho, a maverick rangatira from the Ngati Tama iwi. Ngati Tama had been driven from their traditional north Taranaki rohe to Port Nicholson by Te Rauparaha's muskets; Te Puoho decided that the iwi should resettle in the South Island. In a series of meetings with dubious relatives, he announced plans to lead an army the length of the island, storm the trading and whaling stations that Kai Tahu had established on the Fouveaux Strait, and then put the members of that iwi to work as slaves on huge plantations.
Te Puoho won only a few dozen men to his cause. He exhausted his little army by marching it down the South Island's West Coast and across the Southern Alps. Eventually Te Puoho and his warriors came across a small Kai Tahu kainga: they stormed its half-empty pig pen, pulled up and devoured some half-ripe kumara, and took a couple of old men prisoner.
While they were sleeping off their exhaustion in a hut beside the conquered pigsty, Te Puoho and his mates were killed by a Kai Tahu war party, which had been alerted to the invasion and had marched for days from the coast.
There are a couple of interesting lessons from the story of Te Puoho's 'war', which the young Atholl Anderson told in his marvellous 1986 book Te Puoho's Last Raid.
Te Puoho was both an anachronism and an innovator. His faith in the musket made him a throwback to raiders of the 1820s, like the notorious Nga Puhi chief Hongi Hika, who returned from visits to London and Sydney with a suit of armour and guns, and used them to ravage the territories of his iwi's traditional enemies.
By the 1830s other iwi had acquired guns, and what Chris calls 'a balance of terror' existed, as chiefs realised that new armed expeditions would likely be costly and futile. Kai Tahu had established a prosperous trade with the whalers and sealers of the Fouveaux Strait, and had accumulated a large arsenal. It is not surprising, then, that most of Te Puoho's relatives were reluctant to join his adventure.
The fate of Te Puoho's invasion shows us how anachronistic and ineffectual inter-iwi warfare had become in New Zealand's main islands by the middle of the 1830s.
In other ways, though, Te Puoho was an innovator. During the halcyon days of the Musket Wars Hongi Hika had never attempted to hold onto the lands he attacked. Hongi and his warriors would float over the horizon on their waka, storm, loot, and burn a pa, and leave with prisoners, most of whom were considered floating kai rather than future slaves.
By contrast, Te Puoho wanted to conquer and administer the whole of Te Wai Pounamu. He would put Kai Tahu to work as slaves, grow food to barter or sell to Pakeha, and become rich.
Although Te Puoho failed, his plan for Te Wai Pounamu was to some extent realised in the distant Chatham Islands, whose indigenous people lacked both guns and a military tradition. Some of Te Puoho's relatives joined with their fellow North Taranaki iwi Ngati Mutunga and invaded the Chathams in 1835. They killed hundreds of the islands' Moriori inhabitants and made the rest work as slaves on farms that supplied Pakeha towns like Port Nicholson, Sydney and even San Francisco with potatoes.
The society that Ngati Tama and Ngati Mutunga established on the islands they called Wharekauri was unprecedented in New Zealand history. With its mixture of slavery and cash cropping, it resembled, on a small scale, Confederate America or the slave colonies of the Caribbean. Only the confluence of a number of factors - the isolation and pacifism of the Moriori, the demand for food from Pakeha towns, the use of guns, which made large-scale coercion possible in a way that the traditional armoury of Maori war didn't - made Wharekauri possible.
Because the British Crown did not consider the Treaty a charter to interfere in Maori affairs, and had no interest in bringing British law to Maori society, the slave colony on the Chathams persisted into the 1860s.
Correction to my first post about Te Puoho: Ngati Tama were allies, not enemies of Te Rauparaha and Ngati Toa. It's appropriate that Matthew Wright compared the Musket Wars to Europe's Thirty Years War in his book Guns and Utu, because they seem equally complicated affairs!
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