Sunday, August 29, 2010

Michael Coote: Whale vetoes point the way on foreshore and seabed legislation

While the public awaits the National-led government to release its foreshore and seabed bill on September 7, it is worth looking at some signs of things to come. Practices in place at present concerning unwonted coastal Maori tribal influence over the foreshore and seabed are likely to multiply exponentially under the impending legislation. This increase can only result in the further undermining and overruling of New Zealand’s open, secular, democratic Western society, and in particular its scientific culture.

Destruction of the supremacy of Western civilisation in New Zealand is of course a key objective in the Maorification agenda being pandered to by the government’s foreshore and seabed legislation proposals.

Much focus has been placed on the vast physical boundaries of potential Maori claims over the foreshore and seabed.

Less attention has been given to the equally threatening additional entrenchment in law of Maori irrationalism that was foreshadowed in the Foreshore and Seabed Act (2004) consultation document issued earlier this year by Attorney-General and Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Christopher Finlayson.

Simply put, Maori irrationalism is the antithesis of Western civilisation in New Zealand.

We can look to current examples for what we can expect more of as the government seeks to legislate increase in the power and influence of Maori irrationalism over the foreshore and seabed.

A couple of stories recently published about beached whales shed light on what will proliferate under the government’s foreshore and seabed policies.

Whale Tales

For some strange reason, coastal Maori tribes have been given a veto over scientific research being carried out on whale carcases washed up along the shoreline.

This veto is a precursor of the veto rights embedded in the government’s foreshore and seabed proposals, so how it works in practice, with actual examples concerning beached whales, is illuminating to consider.

What this veto has allowed Maori to do is impose fantasy, ignorance, superstition, obscurantism and wilful stupidity in the name of supposed Maori culture while at the same time attacking science – a core part of our Western civilisation - in the process.

Case 1: The Whakatane Veto

Early in June it was reported by APN News & Media that a dead orca – or killer whale – had washed up on Piripai Spit in Whakatane (“Whale-rider link stops orca autopsy”).

A scientific researcher, Ingrid Visser, arrived to perform an autopsy on the dead whale, including “an examination of the orca's stomach contents, a CT scan of its head and testing of blood samples, among other things.”

Pretty straightforward, one would imagine.

But no – the local Maori champions of purblind ignorance had to interfere.

The orca ended up being buried whole in a local Maori cemetery, with Ms Visser only allowed to collect a “sample of blood and a small piece of the fin for research purposes.”

So what was the problem?

Local Maori tribal fount of all wisdom, Pouroto Ngaropo, a “Ngati Awa cultural adviser”, opined that “sea creatures were spiritual guardians of the people of the land.”

Expanding on this fairy tale logic that could only be taken seriously in a madhouse – or New Zealand - Mr Ngaropo went on to clarify that, “This whale is a message that has been sent to us.”

“The last orca whale to come ashore we [Ngati Awa] know of was when Te Tahi-o-terangi rode a whale from Whakaari [Whale Island] to the mouth of the Whakatane River.”"

In case anybody missed the significance of the total coincidence of an ancient and objectively impossible Maori myth with the only factually recorded beaching of an orca on Piripai Spit in hundreds of years, we were helpfully informed by the article that “Te Tahi-o-te-rangi was a famous whale rider who, according to local legend, rode a whale-shaped taniwha called Tutarakauika to the mainland.”

And how do we know this mythical “whale-shaped taniwha” was an orca?

Apparently no evidence for answering that question was required by Whakatane’s Ngati Awa, who vetoed scientific research on the dead orca and instead believe and where necessary revise and reinvent sheer nonsense that no rational person could subscribe to in good conscience.

“Because of the whale's connection to the people of the land,” Mr Ngaropo ran on at the mouth, “it must be buried with its ancestors in the sacred urupa Opihi.”

What ancestors exactly? Long dead humans who have miraculously joined the bloodline of an orca that died in June this year?

In children we might indulge such folly, because they are likely still to believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and the Easter bunny, and it seems wantonly cruel to disabuse them prematurely of their naïve innocence.

But there is absolutely no reason to take such arrant, deluded nonsense as truth from a grown adult, Maori or otherwise, let alone use it as the basis to veto scientific research.

But Mr Ngaporo is apparently not alone among the advocates of Stone Age revivalist hysteria in Whakatane, as the report went on to state that, “Locals remained with the whale throughout Monday and Tuesday until Mr Ngaropo performed a karakia (blessing) before it was buried at Opihi.”

Obviously Whakatane’s Ngati Awa have a lot of free time on their hands in squandering two working week days on such a charade.

These Maori irrationalists wasted their time on a self-parodying comedy over the orca, but the greater tragedy for our society as a whole is the resulting obstruction of scientific advancement.

Case 2: The Northland Veto

The craven depths of anti-Western, anti-scientific Maori irrationalism were further exposed up in Northland more recently.

APN News & Media reported in late August that a pod of 49 pilot whales stranded on Karikari Beach in the Far North had been buried without scientific analysis (“Iwi rule out autopsies on stranded pilot whales”).
Scientists wanted to autopsy the whales to help find out why they beach themselves, surely a worthy cause if ways can be discovered to reduce or prevent such occurrences.

Not so, however.

The scientists were obstructed from doing their jobs by a veto from the local Maori tribes Te Whanau Moana and Te Rorohuri, who “decided the animals would be buried without dissection or the removal of organs”.

Although scientists were told they could take DNA samples, a spokesman for the obscurantist tribes Alan Hetaraka said “we don't want [the whales] to be chopped up. It doesn't fit with our culture".

Instead, 45 of the whales were interred in an historic burial ground in sand dunes on Karikari Beach after a religious service was performed for them, and another four were buried in Maitai Bay.

Once more, Maori superstition led to a burial of dead whales with all the trappings of a solemn funeral, and scientists were stopped from collecting meaningful samples by this act of wanton destruction of evidence in the name of Maori “culture”, meaning Stone Age revivalist anti-scientific irrationalism.

Astonishingly, Mr Hetaraka was described in the report as a “former marine biologist”, although these days he has mutated into a “kaumatua” empowered to veto scientific research on whales.

Obviously taxpayers wasted their hard earned money on funding his university qualifications.

The veto-wielding Mr Hetaraka even offered some scientific explanation of why the whales stranded.

Although he “doubted the cause would ever be fully understood” he ventured that “pollution could play a part”.

Well thanks for that hypothesis, but we won’t be getting any nearer to proving it while Maori obscurantists like Mr Hetaraka stand in the way of scientific discovery.

Mr Hetaraka did do society at large a favour in putting succinctly the core issue of the culture wars that will expand with the government’s foreshore and seabed legislation when he was reported as stating “his scientist head told him to let the experts take their samples, but his cultural heart told him to bury them intact.”

Quite so – the scientist head represents educated and enlightened Western civilisation in this country, and the cultural heart the recrudescence of Maori Stone Age ignorance and superstition.

But wait – there’s more…

You bet - and you can read all about it in the government’s foreshore and seabed bill when released soon.

Supposing the government is really serious about rebalancing the relations of justice between Maori and the rest of New Zealand society, it could abolish with urgency the Maori veto over scientific research on dead whales.

But don’t hold your breath – it is far more likely that the whale veto will be expanded in all sorts of ways in the bill.


Anonymous said...

It is crucial for the ecologically sustainable
management of the coast and oceans of NZ and for the future generations of ALL New Zealanders that they remain under the control
of the State Government, on behalf of everyone, for only they have the resources and access to expertise to effectively and competently manage this vast area. It should not be used as a bargaining tool for
short term political gain, as is the case at present.

Of particular significance is that the proposed changes could mean that NZ would find it very hard, if not impossible, to ever catch up with our Australian neighbour (or anywhere else) in implementing the 30%+ level of marine and coastal conservation protection that has been recommended by International scientists. At present, we are still well down in single figures.

Anonymous said...

Who gave Maori the power of veto over scientific research into dead whales?

This is surely something that should be removed given that their whole approach is anti-science.


Anonymous said...

I doubt Maori believe these legends but they (the legends) provide the material for the dissenting view which Maori need in order to assert their power in such matters. If they had accepted the Western scientific view about the whales they could not have asserted themselves, and that self-assertion is an end in itself.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Maori don't really believe all this stuff (as opposed to being sentimentally attached to it). They just use it politically since they need a dissenting view in order to veto the pakeha response. This is just power for its own sake or as a precedent.

Anonymous said...

Very scientific analysis from you guys, instead of opinions why don't you stop guessing and ask the Maori directly themselves !
Your missing the point with this diversionary nonsense. "let the Maori live their own life"

Anonymous said...

A lot of hotair talked about what is happening and no action's time we stood up and faced these problems before it totally distroys New Zealand's way of life....I'm thinking that if the goverment is doing this for short term gain then why are the people letting it happen...It's the good old Kiwi saying ....If it's not happening to me personally, I don't want to know about it! and that's why we are losing this wonderful country!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am a half-caste Maori and Dutch. It has taken me into my adult life to find my identity Where do I belong?
For years I thought I was Pakeha. Wanted to be only Pakeha. How wrong was I? I have learn't to look at my Maori side and be proud of it.
Superstitions and all! I have seen things over the years that have come to haunt me on my Maori side. My Mum used to tell me stories about the Whales and why they beached themselves. Only a Maori can understand these beliefs. I believe Yes we need to keep researching for scientific evidence and this may mean working on specimens but let us Maori not loose sight of our superstitions, traditions and beliefs that are our culture.

Anonymous said...

Amongst the 'Maoris' were also scientists who were also Maori. This has got nothing to do with race, everything to do about sustainability and thankfully there are Maori alive who can share this with cultures who are traditionally capitalist led!

Anonymous said...

I can't fathom how you get away with such scathing talk of Maori spirituality as "fairy tale logic" and "sheer nonsense". Even Albert Einstein believed that science was something you had to feel, he felt a kind of spirituality towards it which compelled him to continue his researcg. Don't be so cynical and close minded that you cant see past what you have been told is realit. Anyone who is an actual scientist, such as I am, and you clearly aren't, realises that you must keep an open mind to these concepts. Scientific paradigms that we know now as 'reality' are constantly shifting-for example the double helix paradigm is undergoing a shift right now. Scientific research on the works of Naturopaths is lending some credibility to this practice. Blatant disregard for other cultures perspectives on the world is a good way to ensure we never progress in science.