Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mike Butler: The great treaty divide

Investigative journalist Ian Wishart has turned his attention to the treaty industry in his new book “The Great Divide: The story of New Zealand and its Treaty” at a time when a lop-sided advisory panel could enshrine “treatyism” into a written constitution.

Digitised archives, the internet, and Google searches mean written history is no longer controlled by academics, or worse, government agencies that believe they can indoctrinate generations with an authorised view of the past. Wishart has trolled through archives often 200 years old that are freely available online to let the protagonists of the past tell their story in their own words.

The result is a page-turner that tells the story of pre-Maori history, of explorers who met a sudden death, of brave missionaries, musket wars, of the beginnings of British rule, the ins and outs of the treaty, land clashes, sovereignty wars, of the role of Christianity, and implications for today. His chatty, colloquial style could and should keep a wide range of readers on the edge of a chair up to page 278.

Wishart understands Christianity so comprehends how unarmed British missionaries could dwell among and turn Maori from permanent warfare and cannibalism to God and the Queen. Signs that the missionaries may be rehabilitated can only be good, not that it would please any post-modernist academic historian.

The chapter “Waitangi’s fairytale godfathers” shreds Waitangi Tribunal arguments that chiefs did not understand what they were signing and that sovereignty was not fully ceded.

By quoting extensively from chiefs attending the 1860 Kohimarama conference, Wishart shows that 60 percent explicitly agreed with Governor Thomas Gore Browne’s summary of the treaty which says the Queen is sovereign, Maori are her subjects with the rights of subjects, including possession of property.

The considerable evidence from Kohimarama knobbles the tribunal’s argument that “despite being granted the same rights as all British citizens, Maori were supposed to remain exclusively loyal to Maori tribal structure, that New Zealand should have been governed by two hierarchies, two ‘treaty partners’, Maori and the Crown, where ordinary citizens were subjects either of the Queen or Maori leaders”.

Wishart re-states evidence that the Littlewood Treaty found in March 1989 is the lost final draft of the Maori version of the Treaty of Waitangi. The numerous differences between the official English version attached to the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 and the Maori text has created confusion and a fertile territory for separatists and gravy-trainers to ply their trade.

However, he presents the views of the chiefs at Kohimarama as clear ratification of the treaty as understood before the Waitangi Tribunal started re-interpreting it. Any wacky separatist notion floated by the tribunal would sink at Kohimarama.

Of interest, where Article 2 of the Littlewood text of the treaty uses the word “possession” for “tino rangatiratanga”, Wishart prefers to use “tino rangatiratanga”, despite all the confusion surrounding that term, to present the ins and outs of aboriginal title, especially how numerous chiefs desperately wanted to be able to convert their land to fee simple title to be able to move ahead with the new economy. Again, numerous speeches from chiefs at Kohimarama show exactly what they wanted, and this is completely opposite to what the Waitangi Tribunal would have us believe.

The Taranaki claim, in Wishart’s view, was an ideal stalking-horse for the Waitangi Tribunal to hang the Maori sovereignty argument on. Where the tribunal presents chief Wiremu Kingi as grossly maligned by the colonial government, Wishart shows him as duplicitous and regarded by fellow chiefs, again at Kohimarama, as clearly wrong.

Those chiefs who opposed the unity of the races under one sovereign became the Maori king movement, and the focus of the so-called Maori renaissance in the 20th century, Wishart wrote. “Their followers, however, are the ones now in charge of the Waitangi debate, the cultural gatekeepers. They are the ones who can make the majority voices from the past fall silent – their words left out of the popular history books and not quoted in universities.”

So here we are in the 21st century still fighting the 19th century sovereignty war, this time using words instead of bullets. The book is a must-read.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Treaty of Waitangi, whilst possibly relevant at the time it was formulated, has been rendered irrelevant by the passage of time as true full-blooded Maori no longer exist. Many claiming to be Maori are really Europeans with a possible dash of Maori blood. These people are trying to have a bob each-way at the expense of others making a nonsense of the Treaty.
It's time to expunge this document and the injustices it now promotes and move forward as one united nation.

Chuck Bird said...

Mike another excellent article. I applaud you for highlight what is wrong such as race based seats without denigrating Maori many of whom find them an embarrassment.

Don McKenzie said...

Another good book on the years of the WAR is 'Climates of War ' New Zealand in Conflict 1859-69 by Edmund Bohan.
In my view the Maori of Taranaki and of the Waikato broke the Treaty by declaring war on the settlers.
We all pakeha and part maori have been let down badly by our politicians who have been too lazy to search for the truth.

Anonymous said...

If the treaty is not valid because you say there are no full-blood Maori perhaps everyone who is European better pack up and go home? LMAO Stupid argument.

Anonymous said...

Professor Paul Moon expert NZ historian quote

The Great Divide disregarded recorded and oral history and the heavily research-based background to Waitangi Tribunal claims, and implied "that academics have somehow misrepresented our history. This is, of course, preposterous."

Anonymous said...

I think Wishart is merely catering to the desires of white NZers to be born again kiwis free of any past guilt of transgression against Maori.

Yep white middle class NZ will suck these lies up and regurgitate it into an already anti Maori society.

Wishart is a sensationalist writer jumping on the band wagon of Maori bashing.

Anonymous said...

Professor Paul Moons comment

He is concerned about the "soft-core" denial of the role of Maori in New Zealand being promulgated by self-published authors with an agenda to discredit tangata whenua status.

jh said...

“It is undeniably true that there is overwhelming evidence in The Great Divide of human settlement in New Zealand much older than academics are currently acknowledging. I have produced the scientific reports in The Great Divide to back that up and people can read them and make their own minds up.

where does he get that from? Aren't polynesian rats considered to be the first indication of human habitation?

fury12 said...

@anonymous Where is your evidence to prove there are NO FULL-BLOODED MAORI alive in AOTEAROA today?

Anonymous said...

Much of Wishart's treatise rises or falls on the compelling transcripts from the Kohimarama Assembly. Never before have I encountered such sincerety and persicasity attributed to Maori statesmen from the past. There is in their utterances the seed and vision of a more harmonious Pakeha / Maori future, even now. Every New Zealander should read this book

fury12 said...

@Anonymous You still have not answered my very relevant question.

Where is your evidence that proves there are NO FULL-BLOODED MAORI alive in AOTEAROA today?

Let me put it to you this way, if you do not have the evidence, which I doubt that you do, what if I wager you a bob each-way that Te Tiriti is still very relevant and alive to ONE FULL-BLOODED MAORI individual that is alive and kicking today?

May be there are others but if there are I am not aware of them, but I do know personally one that is and this person's rather tattered little green birth certificate, looks a little like the original Treaty, however. therein lies the evidence and signed off by the headmaster who back in those days was the legal One Stop Shop man as in post-master general, registrar of births, etc especially in the rural areas way back a yonder.



Mick said...

A great book. Well researched and providing source references. Should become essential reading for students so as to give them an unbiased view of our history.