Sunday, August 5, 2012
Mike Butler: Freethinker faults treaty fictions
Author John Robinson, a former university lecturer and research scientist with an MSc degree in maths and physics from Auckland University, and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, knows all about the findings-falsification business because he worked for the government for 16 years, from 1986 to 2002, crunching numbers concerning Maori life expectancy, infant mortality, health, education, offending, imprisonment.
In 2000, his employer the Crown Forestry Rental Trust told him to rewrite his demographic research that undermined treaty orthodoxy or not get paid. Robinson says he can only speak out freely as an independent now because he is past the end of his career and no longer needs to satisfy the demands of an employer. His publisher also works outside the mainstream.
His earlier book “The Corruption of New Zealand Democracy”, published last year, provided extensive evidence to disprove the orthodox view that colonisation killed Maori. He shows that Maori killed Maori by the tens of thousands between 1800 and 1842, causing a population decline from a projected 120,000 (projected back from censuses in 1858 and 1871 using a model detailed in the book) to 70,000 in 1840. He shows that the Maori population gradually recovered as colonization ended war, slavery and infanticide, and brought better nutrition and healthcare, which contrasts with the current orthodoxy that Maori were living in paradise before the wicked colonizer came along and wrecked everything.
This book takes in those findings and re-tells history, capturing the carnage of the inter-tribal “musket wars” from 1840, shows how chiefs welcomed the Treaty of Waitangi to bring personal protection, details the difficulties from 1845 to 1860 that brought sporadic armed conflict, describes the slights and blundering that escalated into the Taranaki and Waikato wars, and fighting involving Pai Marire Hauhaus and Te Kooti to 1872. He discusses the contribution of Sir Apirana Ngata, James Carroll, and others, shows how urban drift benefited Maori, then details how Maori sovereignty activists since 1968 have re-written history in a grab for money and political power.
The statistics prove that integration was a success story, he concludes, writing “Maori life expectancy at birth, which had been around 25 years before contact, had improved somewhat to 30 years for women and 35 years for men in 1901. It then increased at an almost constant rate to 73 years for women and 68 years for men in 1990, and then at a slower rate to 75.1 years for women and 70.4 years for men in 2005-07 (coming towards but still lagging the values for the total population of 82.2 years for women and 78 years for men)”.
Robinson takes special aim at the rewriting of history by negotiation that takes place in treaty settlements. This false history, that is being force fed through schools and universities, is contradicted by the wealth of information recorded by the numerous literate settlers and is freely available in libraries, in government archives, and at the end of a Google search to those who want to know what really went on until historical revisionism took off in the 1970s.
He goes back to these sources, especially journalist-historian James Cowan, who wrote over 30 detailed and precisely sourced books, many on the pioneering period and the wars. Cowan, who grew up on a confiscation land farm with a father who fought in the Waikato War, wrote a two-volume history, published in 1922, that is disappearing from libraries, while the works of those who started writing in the 1970s are taken as gospel.
Robinson the mathematician notes widespread numerical illiteracy among this new generation of historians, who tend to take wild stabs at statistics, using this conjured-up data to bolster their beliefs.
“The new apartheid society” chapter launches into a withering criticism of Prime Minister John Key’s deal with the race-based Maori Party that only benefits the neo-tribal elite, the policy U-turn in the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 that gave special privileges to tribal groups, treaty settlements based on secret deals and circumventing parliamentary procedure, “Maori science”, “Maori medicine” which both revive old superstitions, the constitutional review which could achieve the Maori nationalist aim of a re-written constitution based on the treaty.
After discussing Tame Iti’s weapons camps in the Ureweras, Robinson concludes that “the rewriting of history – with Maori presented as passive victims of massive British wrongdoing, and the glorification of murderous rebels – together with funding of a substantial industry to seek out and amplify an ever-growing list of grievances, have provided the intellectual and ideological platform for armed insurrection.”
Read it and weep. How many more government-funded academics are too frightened to present their research without fear or favour? This book is a must for anyone with a care or an interest in what is going on in New Zealand right now.
When two cultures meet – the New Zealand experience, John Robinson, Tross Publishing, Wellington. 280 pages, illustrated, $40p&p. Available from P.O. Box 22 143, Khandallah, Wellington 6441
at 7:10 AM