Friday, April 4, 2014
Mike Butler: Treaty deal for descendants of killers
Chatham Islands Ngati Mutunga have agreed on who will represent them in treaty negotiations but there is a big question of why any payout would be suitable for the descendants of those who invaded the Chatham Islands in 1835 and murdered hundreds of peaceful Moriori.
Mandating hui were held in February and March in Auckland, Waitara, Wellington and Christchurch, with a final meeting two weeks ago on the island, where tribe members cast their votes, Radio New Zealand reported today.
More than three quarters of those who cast their ballots backed the Ngati Mutunga o Wharekauri Iwi Trust although only 39.5 percent of eligible voters actually cast their ballots, with 269 voting papers received.
For those who may be a little hazy on our nation’s bloodstained past, Taranaki Maori who were living at Port Nicholson uneasily in the presence of the hyper-aggressive Ngati Toa tribe decided to move to the Chatham Islands.
The only problem was that the Chatham Islands were already occupied -- by the peaceful Moriori people.
Nevertheless, on November 19, 1835, a group of 500 Maori from the Ngati Tama and Ngati Mutunga tribes hired the British ship the Rodney and landed at Whangatete Inlet on the Chatham Islands armed with guns, clubs and axes.
A further 400 arrived on the Rodney’s second trip, on December 5, 1835. One group of Ngati Tama walked through Moriori ancestral territory to Waitangi and claimed the area and its Moriori villages. Another group claimed the north-east including Kaingaroa Harbour. The Ngati Mutunga group remained at Whangaroa.
The invasion shattered Moriori existence. Elders called a council which lasted for three days. Younger Moriori argued that their law of peace, known as Nunuku’s law, did not envisage an invasion and argued for a combined attack on the intruders.
Elders argued that Nunuku’s law was a moral imperative and permitted no exceptions, and to maintain the law was to maintain their mana as people. The council agreed that there would be no killing by Moriori, and that they would offer to the Maori newcomers peace, friendship, and the opportunity to share the resources.
Meanwhile, the Maori invaders probably had their own council meeting and, expecting an attack, planned a pre-emptive strike. Those Moriori who resisted were murdered; many of whom were cut up, steamed in cooking pits, and eaten. Those who survived were not allowed to marry Moriori, and forbidden from having children with each other. All became slaves of the invaders. Many died from despair. Many Moriori women had children to their Maori masters.
In 1862, Moriori elders compiled a list of the names of 118 men and 108 women who had been killed during the 1835 invasion.
Maori witnesses told the Native Land Court in 1870 that they had deliberately killed 300 Moriori, noting in a matter-of-fact manner that it was the traditional method of supporting land claims.
Now, 179 years later, the descendents the perpetrators of this genocide are lining up for a payout for imagined alleged acts and omissions by a settler government.
The question is will Ngati Mutunga think of using whatever payment they may receive for whatever grievances they may concoct, to compensate descendants of the actual victims of their actual crimes, the few who survived?
Chathams iwi trust wins mandate. http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/te-manu-korihi/240486/chathams-iwi-trust-wins-mandate
King, Michael, Moriori – A People Rediscovered, Viking-Penguin, 2000
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