Friday, March 18, 2016
Mike Butler: Submit against land wars day
As an initial observation, the sporadic armed conflict that accompanied the settlement of New Zealand from 1840 should be regarded as tribal rebellions instead of land wars. A “land wars day” would be a misnomer.
A day to commemorate those who lost their lives in conflict is a memorial day and we already have a memorial day on April 25 each year. That day, called Anzac Day, would be the appropriate venue to remember 19th century deaths, although I imagine the Returned Services Association would disagree.
Lives lost in New Zealand conflicts should not eclipse lives lost in other conflicts, as could happen in a politically driven memorial like this.
The total lives lost in the armed conflicts in New Zealand during the 19th century, according to historian James Cowan, is 2899, which includes Maori on both sides as well as non-Maori.
This compares with over 18,000 killed in World War 1, 12,000 killed in World War 2, a total of 71 in the Boer Wars, and 36 in Vietnam.
Establishing a land wars day would be problematic because we have no agreed history on the 19th century conflicts.
The Waitangi Tribunal has created a version of history that casts noble Maori as victims of the wicked white colonizer. The purpose of this revision was compensation. The history handed down by descendents of non-rebel combatants has been discarded.
The words "we are fighting for justice" in an essay presumably by one of the pupils promoting the petition on the topic, posted on the Human Rights Commission website, reveals the bias inherent in the idea for such a memorial day because the proposal ignores the extensive payments made over a long period to settle these grievances.
Have the Otorohanga College pupils whose petition is pushing us to accept a national grievance day, been told about nearly 150 years of inquiries and compensation?
For Waikato there was the Waikato Maniopoto Maori Claims Settlement Act 1946, the 1995 WaikatoTainui $170-million settlement, and again in a series of top-ups to that settlement, and in further smaller settlements, not to mention the Waikato River "raupatu" settlement. More than $3-billion in total has been paid in settlements to tribes around the country. Do these complaints actually remain unsettled?
A look at public holidays in other countries reveals only three such social engineering holidays in the national holidays of Australia, The United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and South Africa. They are National Patriots Day in Quebec marking the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837, Martin Luther King Jnr Day in the United States, and Reconciliation Day in South Africa.
On a personal note, I started attending dawn Anzac services about 10 years ago out of respect for my grandfather who was killed in northern France just days before First World War hostilities ended, and for his brother who was killed in the Boer War in South Africa.
My great grandfather saw armed conflict in New Zealand during the 1860s, some of which was detailed in his letters that survived. What he wrote and how the Waitangi Tribunal has reinterpreted it are two totally different realities.
Those pushing grievances don’t like to accept the fact that sovereignty is gained by cession (such as by signing the Treaty of Waitangi), by occupation (the settler population exceeded the Maori population in 1858), and by conquest.
That implies that the conflicts in the North, in Taranaki, Waikato, and on the East Coast, during the 19th century formed the conquest of New Zealand.
Beware unintended consequences.
What would those pushing for a national grievance holiday do should the non PC descendents of non-Maori combatants in the 19th century conflicts start saying “we won, you lost, eat that”?
And to the Otorohanga College pupils pushing the grievance holiday petition, just make sure you find out all about the issue you are championing, and don’t let yourself be used.
Submissions close on April 21, 2016, and may be made online at http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/sc/make-submission/0SCMA_SCF_51DBHOH_PET68056_1/petition-of-waimarama-anderson-and-leah-bell
at 3:37 PM