Friday, January 26, 2018

Bruce Moon: Twisting Taonga

It is a pretty obvious fact that the meanings of words may change over time – even if we discount the argot of the young – you know - “a cool chick”, “a joint”.  New ideas, new technology, need words to describe them. So picture the Maoris of New Zealand, eastern Polynesians isolated for millennia in a Stone Age culture, when they observed the diversity of material wealth of the Europeans who came to our shores.  They needed words for it.  And so: Taonga:

In 1820: “property procured by the spear” - Hongi Hika in Lee and Kendall’s Maori dictionary – from “tao” - a spear.

In 1831: “possessions/property” - “nothing but timber, flax, pork and potatoes”[i] - 13 Ngapuhi chiefs writing to King William.

About 1840: “goods, property” - Frederick E Maning[ii].

In 1844: “property” - William Williams - “A dictionary of the Language of New Zealand”[iii].

!n 1957: Williams’ dictionary, 6th edition: “property; anything highly prized”.

In 1992: “the Maori language (te reo Maori) was a ... treasure (taonga) - Robin Cooke, Court of Appeal judgment.  Cooke also said the Crown [guaranteed] undisturbed possession of the language to Maori” (!!)[iv]

In 1994:  “the treaty word taonga meant ‘treasures’, that the Maori language was one such treasure” - Privy Council[v].

In 1997: Hugh Kawharu: “As submissions to the Waitangi Tribunal concerning the Maori language have made clear, ‘taonga’ refers to all dimensions of a tribal group’s estate, material and non-material – heirlooms and wahi tapu (sacred places), ancestral lore and whakapapa (genealogies) etc.”[vi]

Note the remorseless widening of  meaning over the years – but only its 1840 meaning applies in the Treaty.  As Wikipedia states: “The current definition differs from the historical definition.”

It was an entirely natural extension of the meaning of “taonga”  in the few years before 1840 to include European material goods such as blankets, iron cooking pots and steel knives, collectively chattels or ordinary property as indeed recorded by Williams in 1844.  It was certainly not before 1852 that any extension of its meaning was recorded and even one hundred years later it did not include “treasure”.  That has not stopped all manner of people claiming in the free-for-all since the Waitangi Tribunal was set up that its meaning is “treasure”, including within that everything “material and non-material” for which they might claim some financial benefit or other advantage.  When they succeed, the taxpayers of New Zealand are defrauded.

A flagrant case was when a sick old Maori man was declined an organ transplant on medical grounds since his feeble state of general health made it unlikely that he would get any benefit from it.  His family and associates thereupon jumped up and down, claiming that he was a “taonga” which the treaty promised to protect and therefore that it was obligatory upon the hospital to make the transplant.  Weakly the authorities caved in, he received the transplant and within a few months he was dead of other causes. Of course, the consequence was that another patient to whom the transplant would have given a real benefit was denied it.

Another demand was for a share of the electromagnetic spectrum – and Maori broadcasting rights – notwithstanding that it had not even been discovered in 1840.  It was asserted that as Polynesian navigators had found their way using the stars which did indeed emit rays from a section of the spectrum, it was indeed a prized possession – a “taonga”.  Whether any 1840 Maori could have used stellar navigation was beside the point.

One Ngahiwi Apanui of the Maori Language Commission claims[vii] that: “In fact, [the Maori language] is a taonga protected by article two of the Treaty of Waitangi because that is exactly what the Maori Language Act 2016 (section 8 (g)) says it is.”  This is a flagrant example of retrospective legislation which grossly distorts the meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

Examples such as these would be laughable in any society except the bemused state of New Zealand today, with greedy opportunists capitalizing on Government weakness and ignorance and taxpayer apathy.  This pantomime continues with noisy claims to water.   Rebuffed on that one, tribal activists have now got a share in water management through the flagrantly racist provisions of the amended Resource Management Act with, no doubt, handsome emoluments for self-appointed tribal bigwigs.

The presence of the magical word “taonga” in the Treaty of Waitangi is immediately chanted to justify any claim and it almost always works.  This is flagrant abuse of the provision of the Treaty in which Article second assured rights to property to “tangata katoa o Nu Tirani”, that is “all the people of New Zealand”, without distinction.

In its report on Wai262, the Tribunal said: “A list of taonga species was prepared, but this did no more than record all of the species for which claims of special relationship were made. We accepted for the purposes of our inquiry that taonga species are what claimant communities say they are.”[viii] Well, the Tribunal can prepare any list of “taonga species” it likes but this has nothing to do with the Treaty.

There is a fundamental flaw.  The only valid interpretation of any aged document is that made using the meaning of words at the time it was executed. Any claim to alleged “taonga” except one based on its 1840 meaning of ordinary domestic property is false, often fraudulent.

When visiting the south, Sonny Tau, Ngapuhi runanga chairman, obtained five corpses of our beautiful native pigeons and decided to take them home for an illicit feast.  Unluckily for him, he was detected with this pitiable cargo on the way and duly appeared in court.  Very properly the law which gives absolute protection to our pigeons overrode his bogus defence that they were “taonga” to which he was guaranteed by the Treaty and he was duly convicted and his booty confiscated.

Demands to “harvest” our pigeons seem to be never-ceasing, while illicit poaching in Northland has led to the deduction that they will be extinct there within a decade or two.  As a couple usually rear only one chick a year, this is entirely credible.  To I who have seen a magical flock of eight or nine (as they rarely flock) flying over Banks Peninsula or a couple performing aerobatics in my own garden, or their antics when intoxicated on fermented berries in Stewart Island, this would be tragic indeed.

Thus we have the claim of that notably extreme racist, Margaret Mutu who describes anybody who is not Maori, including presumably her own Scottish forebears, as “guests” here: “To deny a Maori [a pigeon] is no different from denying Pakeha bread.  [Pigeons] are part of the staple diet.  They are what I expect to see on the table when I go to the local marae.”[ix]

That this supposedly educated woman should spout such corrupt nonsense is hard to believe.  Is there never a loaf of bread on her own table?

It was another academic, Len Gillman of the Auckland University of Technology who said in the “NZ Herald”: “as a taonga (cultural treasure), tangata whenua are guaranteed full possession of kereru under the Treaty of Waitangi. Full possession implies ongoing rights of harvest, and so many assert that the Treaty imparts a right to harvest the bird in spite of legislation to the contrary.”[x]

It would be hard to find a more brazen distortion of what the Treaty actually said than this and that a national newspaper publishes it uncritically says something of concern about the press in this country. 

I wrote to Gillman and the “Herald” the same day to say: "Nowhere does the Treaty of Waitangi mention "tangata whenua" and in 1840, "taonga" meant blankets and cooking pots, not our beautiful kereru.  So a claim that anybody is entitled to "harvest" them (Herald, 16/8/16) is a blatant falsehood.  I weep for these beautiful and innocent birds."  This was ignored.

I copied my letter to John Maasland, chancellor of the university, Derek McCormack, vice-chancellor and Paul Moon, (no relation), a professor of history in the university.  Maasland and McCormack also ignored me – twice – presumably in the belief that a nobody like me would duly go away.  Well this nobody won’t.  Their lack of concern about a gross falsehood spouted by a senior staff member, presumably under the umbrella of “academic freedom”, tells its own story.

Paul Moon did reply, even calling Gillman “prescient”[xi] and dismissing my observation that “tangata whenua” are not mentioned in the  Treaty. [Not even “whenua” is mentioned – only “wenua” - so much for “Whanganui”!]

He went on “ As for the definition of ‘taonga’, this encompasses much more than possessions or property.  However, notwithstanding your knowledge of Te Reo Maori in 1840, the text of the Treaty itself annuls your argument.   Article the Second guarantees to Maori ‘the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties [taonga]’.  If fisheries are a class of taonga, then there is no logical basis to exclude birds as a similar class of taonga.  Moreover, there are centuries-old traditions in Maori society which reveal kereru were regarded at times as a form of property or possession, and as a cultural treasure, as Professor Gillman rightly points out.  Articles 31 to 33 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties are instructive on general matters of interpretation such as this.

Hopefully this offers some clarification, and disabuses you of the notion that you have encountered a ‘wall of silence’ or a ‘conspiracy of silence’ as you put it.
Now learned discourse this may be but though he claims to do so, he does not quote the Treaty but the pompous English version concocted by Freeman to send to worthies overseas and only used as the second page of the agreement signed at Waikato Heads for an overflow of chiefs’ signatures.    Paul Moon knows all this, because Martin Doutré who did brilliant forensic work to determine it, certainly explained it to him in detail, so why did he write as he did?  “Forests and Fisheries” occurs nowhere in the Treaty and neither “Maori” nor any synonym for it occurs in Article second..[xiii]  Moreover there is not a whiff of “centuries-old traditions in Maori society” in the Treaty nor any recorded discussion at the time.  Treaties are not about “traditions” or “cultural treasure”.

Does Paul Moon imagine that I would fall for his twisted tale?  Readers may form their own conclusions.

Moon replied finally on 7th September: “this argument has probably run its course”

Well, it hasn’t.  Such manipulation of the truth by Cooke and incompetence of the Privy Council in failing to do the requisite research before pronouncing judgment are a disgrace.  So is Kawharus’s “presentism” in pretending that “taonga” meant “all dimensions of a tribal group’s estate, material and non-material – heirlooms and wahi tapu (sacred places), ancestral lore and whakapapa (genealogies) etc.” in the Treaty.  His gross distortion of what was agreed in it was a confidence trick imposed upon “tangata katoa o Nu Tirani” - all the people of New Zealand.  As Hampton commented “the fact is that the taonga industry was founded on myth”.[xiv]

Post Script: And the treaty-twisters carry on apace.  This, we have this rubbish from Victor Goldsmith, a spokesman for Miere Working Group, which looks out for Maori rights: “the change also breached article two of the Treaty because the manuka flower was a taonga to Maori.”[xv]  Now whatever the opinion of any Maori, then or now, the manuka flower was not a taonga in 1840, since taonga included then little more than property procured by the spear, as Hongi had made clear not long before and that is all that counts.(23/1/18)

[i]      John Ansell, “New Zealand Voice”, February 2017, p. 24
[ii]     Quoted by Denis Hampton, “The Rev. Williams got it right back in 1844”, Otago Daily Times, 7th May 2004
[iii]    Successive editions were in 1852, 1871, 1892, 1915, 1957 and 2003.  The sixth edition, (1957) initiated by Sir Apirana Ngata before his death gives for “taonga” : “property; anything highly prized”
[iv]    Denis Hampton, op.cit,
[v]     Denis Hampton, op.cit,
[vi]    Ian Hugh Kawharu, “Kāwanatanga – Māori engagement with the state”, J Polynesian Society, 101,2, (1992), P.112
[vii]   Ngahiwi Apanui, Letter, “Dominion Post”, 18th February 2017
[viii]           Te Taumata Tuaroa Volume 1 (Wai 262) page 114):
[ix]    Margaret Mutu, “Forest and Bird”, November 1995, quoted by David Round, “Truth or Treaty?”, Canterbury UP, 1998
[x]     Len Gillman, “NZ Herald”, 16th August 2016
[xi]    Concise O.E.D.:”Having foreknowledge or foresight”
[xii]   Paul Moon, email to me, 27th August 2106
[xiii]  William Hobson, final draft of the treaty, 4th February 1840, Article second: “The Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs & tribes and to all the people of New Zealand the possession of their lands, dwellings and all their property”, translated that night by Henry and Edward Williams to: “Ko te Kuini o Ingarani ka wakarite ka wakaae ki nga Rangatira ki nga hapu ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani te tino rangatiratanga o ratou wenua o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa.”.
[xiv]  Denis Hampton, op.cit,
[xv]   Brittany Baker, “Waikato Times”, 25/1/18


Brian said...

The more I read about Maori Claims and grievances the more I realise how much our Freedoms are threatened; and just how much we, as a nation, have moved away from democracy.

What did not come as a shock was that your research regretfully Bruce, will never see the light of day in today’s or tomorrow’s New Zealand. Still you are in some elite company, as the Democrat controlled media in the USA confronts and demonises President Trump daily.

The continual indigenous indoctrination supported by Politicians has reach maturity in both N.Z. and Australia; judging by the demonstrations carefully organised in the latter country against the present Australia Day. We can expect more anti-colonial outbursts, further claim Top Ups as Maori become more financial; courtesy of the N.Z. taxpayers.

Add to that, a Parliament riddled with the fear of racism which has resulted in a policy of appeasement at all costs. All Costs means in reality for Non Maori!

It is an echo of the past, and from a much despised Poet.

It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation
To puff and look important and to say:-
Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
Be we’ve proved again and again,
That if once you have paid the Dane-geld
You will never get rid of the Dane.
Extract from the “Dane-geld. A.D 980-1016” by Rudyard Kipling.

Thank you Bruce, I for one have learnt a lot regarding the Treaty etc., from your Blog.

Anonymous said...

Article II of James Busby’s final English draft of 4 February 1840 from which Te Tiriti was translated for presentation to the chiefs at Waitangi the following day guarantees to “… the chiefs & tribes [the Natives] and to all the people of New Zealand [the Pakeha already here and the settlers yet to come] the possession of their lands, dwellings and all their property …”

T E Young of the Native Department’s official back-translation of Te Tiriti undertaken in 1869 accords with the Busby final draft “…to the Chiefs, the Hapus [the Natives] and all the people of New Zealand [the Pakeha already here and the settlers yet to come], the full chieftainship of their lands, their settlements and their property.”

In signing Te Tiriti, the Maori chiefs on behalf of their tribes agreed that Maori would henceforth live under British sovereignty in order to be protected in their land and property -- from one another -- and from less-benevolently inclined foreign powers such as the French. Hence “the chiefs and the tribes.”

The Pakeha already here -- who’d bought land from Maori chiefs, built dwellings on it, cultivated it, and acquired personal property – also needed to be assured that existing land ownership and private property arrangements would be undisturbed by the incoming sovereign. Hence “all the people of New Zealand.”

Busby’s final English draft was translated into Maori by the missionary, Henry Williams, a fluent Maori speaker, who on the eve of the signing of the Treaty had lived in New Zealand for more than 17 years. Williams was assisted by his son, who’d grown up in New Zealand from an early age and was fully bilingual.

According to the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography entry compiled by James Fisher: “In preaching the Word, Williams focused on the use of te reo, spent many hours learning the language, including involvement in the monumental task of making Maori a written language and of translating the Bible into Maori. All teaching of the Maori was in te reo.”

So revisionist assertions that Williams and son had just a cursory understanding of the Maori language which proved inadequate to the task at hand are well and truly put to bed.

“Possession” in Busby’s final English draft became “tino rangatiratanga” in Te Tiriti. Since Article II also guaranteed tino rangatiratanga to non-Maori, in the context of the Treaty -- supported by back-reference to the final English draft -- that clearly meant “ownership.”

In Te Tiriti, the word “property” – again guaranteed to “all the people of New Zealand,” not just to “the chiefs, the tribes” -- was translated as “taonga.” Today that word has come to mean “treasures,” both tangible and intangible, including language and culture.

This blatant try-on would have astonished Sir Apirana Ngata. In his 1922 explanation of the Treaty, Ngata described “taonga” as applying to “this canoe, that taiaha, that kumara pit, that cultivation.” Not once did he hint that taonga included intangibles as claimed today by today’s race-hustlers and their liberal enablers.

Ngata was well-fluent in the Maori language and his explanation was consistent with Kendall and Lee's 1820 vocabulary, the Williams 1844 dictionary, and Frederick Maning's personal account of pre-Treaty New Zealand. Had anyone bothered to check these texts, they would have learnt that “taonga” meant goods, property, things, chattels, or in legal terms “personalty” [personal property].

F.E. (Frederick) Maning settled in Northland in 1833. He fathered four children to the sister of a Maori chief and later became a Judge of the Native Land Court. In his book Old New Zealand, Maning translates “taonga” as “Goods; property.”

Anonymous said...

Some years ago, researcher, Dennis Hampton, wrote to Auckland University’s Professor Andrew Sharp about this matter. In his book Justice and the Maori, Professor Sharp had observed that in 1840 the Maori language “was clearly not under threat, so how could it have been in anyone's mind as a thing needing protection?” He expressed even greater doubt about Maori cultural values.

Replying to Mr Hampton, Professor Sharp said “[E]ven if taonga could mean things such as language and culture, it was not being used that way in 1840. I entirely agree with you that what was being thought of was property, and the kind of property that could be held exclusively.”

The point of entry into the public square for the taonga myth appears to have been former Waitangi Tribunal member (and claimant), Sir Hugh Kawharu’s 1989 mischief-making back-translation into English of the Maori Treaty text, in which “taonga” in Article II was deliberately misrepresented as meaning “treasures,” when in context there’s no doubt it had a much narrower meaning.

What University of Canterbury law lecturer, David Round, refers to as a “portmanteau word” soon became a kete (flax basket) for anything Maori activists wanted to lay claim to in subsequent Waitangi Tribunal hearings. The Tribunal’s Kaituna River Report (1984) stated that “ratou taonga katoa” meant “all things highly prized.”

The Tribunal concluded in its Manukau Report (1985) that “Taonga” refers to more than physical objects of tangible value. “A river may be a taonga as a valuable resource. Its 'mauri' or 'life-force' is another taonga.”

Anonymous said...

Since the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 confers upon the Tribunal sole authority to determine the Treaty's meaning and intent, it didn't take long for word to get around and things to be invented.

In 1987 Parliament passed the Maori Language Act. Its preamble stated: “Whereas in the Treaty of Waitangi the Crown confirmed and guaranteed to the Maori people, among other things, all their taonga: And whereas the Maori language is one such taonga:”

Over the years the taonga/intangibles fabrication made its way into a number of law reports. For example, in a 1994 case, NZ Maori Council v Attorney-General, it was stated that the Maori language is “a highly prized property or treasure (taonga) of Maori.”

The Tribunal has further expanded this myth-making to state that the Crown is obliged by the Treaty to protect the Maori way of life in its entirety – based on references to a non-existent “Article IV” that Treatyists [the Marxist race-mongers of Project Waitangi] have invented and increasingly try to thrust into the public square.

The source of this claim is a pre-Treaty korero that took place at Hokianga, where Bishop Pompallier had established a Roman Catholic mission. Primed by their spiritual advisers -- who feared that the Church of England wanted them run off -- Maori Catholics asked if the Crown, as incoming sovereign, could guarantee freedom of religion.

Hobson replied that all religions, including “Maori customs,” would be protected. Freedom of religion was of course captured in Article III of the Treaty, which accords individual Maori “all the rights and privileges of British subjects.”

The Tribunal starts out by reinterpreting the Treaty on the basis of prior discussions, rather than its black letter clauses. Re-writing the Treaty on the basis of what was said before it was signed is analogous to construing an Act of Parliament on the basis of the Select Committee Report to the House and the Parliamentary Debates that took place before it was passed and ratified. Not to put too fine a construction on it: arrant nonsense.

Even if it was appropriate to reinterpret the Treaty in this way (which it is not), in drawing downstream conclusions about there being an obligation on the Crown to protect and foster the Maori language and culture, the claimant-biased Tribunal willfully disconnected the Hokianga discussion from the context in which it occurred, so as to give it an unintended wider meaning that both Hobson and its Maori signatories would have regarded as a startling proposition indeed.

The Treaty of Waitangi is what its black letter clauses say that it is. Nor does it have an Article IV. There is no “partnership and no “principles” to be distilled out of it. To admit of this possibility is to open a Pandora’s box to anything part-Maori claimants might want to demand, for as long as New Zealanders are prepared to accept European-Maori (with an ever-declining portion of Maori blood) asserting that they are “Maori” for unearned financial gain.

Donald McKenzie said...

As always a first class essay. Thank you Bruce

Don Mac

Anonymous said...

The Treaty Claim to the electromagnetic spectrum or radio waves was a complete farce. Those waves do not occur in nature they are created by machinery.

Anonymous said...

It is nearly 40 years since I completed by secondary education. I am disheartened to observe that since then, it seems that proportionately more people today do not think critically: yet, with the technology at our fingertips, a much greater proportion of the population than formerly has an ability to be very vocal, influence decisions and is not prepared to either listen to or tolerate an opposing perspective.

Consequently, the country is quite far down the path of destroying what was once a truly marvellous nation. That many in New Zealand, whether decision maker, policy maker, judge or "common or garden" citizen are unable to discern that we are on a path to destruction beggars belief.

As for "freedom", do not worry. For nearly 30 years we have had "human rights": sugar coated poison instead of true freedom.

It is clearer now why "1984" was dropped from secondary school English readings lists.

Robert Arthur said...

The last observations of Anonymous above are vey apt. The cult of PC has stifled public knowledge and consideration of very many issues. An education system supposedly intended to produce logical thinkers has instead produced a PC generation with very limited range of knowledge and thought. Effectively conditioned just like those countries we consider brainwashed.
Rational observations such as Bruce regularly presents now reach only a tiny portion of the population. Forty years ago such writings appeared in newspapers and these were received and read by all. Very few persons now receive the printed newspaper or subscribe to the full editions on line. In any case coverage is now very limited and largely reliant on external contributions, with anything not in accord with current PC, or not sensationalist, or likely to not please any group of potential advertisers, seldom published.
In this modern world, I suspect many MPs and public figures are, like Trump, unread and not familiar with the past, and ignorant of aspects of many issues. It is very disturbing that our laws are now made largely by the ignorant