Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Murray Reid: Māori History and Language

I am 73 and grew up in Hamilton at a time when there were almost no Māori in the town, except to the west in Frankton. I went to Whitiora Primary, Peachgrove Intermediate and Hamilton Boys High School and my class photos show virtually no brown faces. If there were any Māori children they were just kids to us. High school was a bit of an exception but I think the few Māori boys there were from Raglan and Ngaruawahia. Again, they were just part of the mix.

Consequently, I grew up with almost zero Māori contact or knowledge and from memory our class social studies teaching was very superficial.

Once I started work in the mid 1960’s things changed as I was posted to places like Mt Maunganui and Taneatua. The industry I was in, and allied to, had many Māori workers. We mixed and mingled freely on the job and over a beer. I enjoyed the banter, some of which had racial overtones. They gave as good as they received, often with a smattering of Māori words or phrases. When I sort translations, there were always roars of laughter, from all parties.

Today I sometimes regret that we did not learn more about our own history, pre and post the European arrival. I have always thought there was a place for some language tuition as well. Not as detailed as the manner in which I learnt French and Latin as that was really instruction into the form of the languages to better help us understand English. But a little basic Māori would have helped to put some context around the culture and beliefs. Ideally those classes would have been best in the two intermediate school years.

Today I am not sure. Maybe the horse has bolted. When I was at school the learning process was quite heavily controlled by the Education Dept. with fairly firm curriculum requirements.

Today, schools have much more freedom as to what they teach and the methods to do so. What facts taught today in Otorohanga may differ widely than those in Oamaru. (I chose Otorohanga on purpose as the college there has form)

Today I have almost zero confidence that pre 1900 New Zealand history could be taught with any consistency and Māori language would be unrecognisable to a fluent speaker of the language fifty years ago.

As far as the language is concerned one example highlights the issue. I was recently at a meeting of a history group with a couple I know quite well. They are brother and sister, in their early 80’s and have been fluent Māori speakers all of their lives yet now admit they can only converse within their own age group. They simply cannot understand the language as it is spoken today by younger people. Today the language contains so many “transliterations” of English words. They both described it as sounding like pidgin to them. The sister also explained that spoken Māori includes a lot of facial expression and body movement that no longer exists. I think she was saying you have to feel it to say it, and that it is very much a visual language. That doesn’t work on radio!

From their comments I believe that any Māori instruction at main stream schools should confine itself to the basics and the language as it was many years ago. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is the plan. I suspect that those pushing for compulsory Te Reo at all schools won’t be satisfied until it is a completely parallel language to English. They will want to see the operations manual for the “Giant Hadron Collider” printed in Māori.

I am also conscious that early Māori was a spoken language only and it was only after the arrival of the missionaries in the Bay of Islands that an alphabet was developed so the language could become a written language. Those early missionaries had no linguistic training and developed a written language from what they heard. They had no way of knowing that pronunciations and the manner of speaking was not common throughout the land. The language they developed had only 13 letters of the modern English alphabet, plus a couple of compound letters, such as ng and wh. The latter is often used in a similar manner to the English f but is not universal across the land. With so few letters it is often difficult to translate an English word into Māori. English has many words that start with ch and end with ck. Sometimes both in the same word. What is the Māori word for chuck? The Māori dictionary came up with this whiuwhiu.  Now I am really confused!

Because there are so few letters some of the vowels need a macron when the simple vowel becomes a long vowel. To complicate that matter the Waikato Māori people don’t bother with the macron, they simply double up on the vowel. For example, Māori becomes Maaori.  I wonder which way the schools at Otorohanga and Oamaru will jump? It is easy to accept that a spoken language may have regional differences but very unusual for a written language to have similar variations.

Today of course, a language must be both oral and written and almost all written language today is done on a keyboard. My computer has the latest “Word” software that does allow me to add macrons by the “Insert/Symbol” command but it is quite laborious. My “Outlook” email program doesn’t have that facility however. I have no idea what my Samsung phone can do! I assume that Māori language programs are available but I suspect most of us will choose not to avail ourselves of them.

Delving into the ridiculous, and to reinforce much of the above, I will relate a conversation I heard on National Radio recently. It was not long after Don Brash was ridiculed for his reported opinion on the subject of Maori language on that network. It was a four minute exchange between Mihingarangi Forbes (not her real name) and an announcer with a French sounding name. She was instructing him on how to make a cup of tea, or coffee, in the Māori language. I suspect they were taking the piss, but it sounded very real. It was very obvious to me that almost all of the words were actually very modern “transliterations” of English word, pronounced as if they were the genuine thing. 

That exchange led me to analyse just how pre European Māori would go about making a cuppa.
Tea.                  I suppose Mānuka would suffice.
Coffee.             Not known pre European times.
Water.             No problem. Just dip your gourd into the nearby pūkaki for your kātao.
Boil Water.    Ngāwhā kātao. Sadly, impossible as Māori lacked a vessel to boil water in!
Tea pot, cup, saucer, teaspoon, milk, sugar, lemon.  All foreign objects with no translation.

That is the end of the lesson children. Please go outside and play nicely.

Murray H H Reid, a retired businessman with a strong interest in genealogy and history, is a member of the Waikato District Heritage Forum and Advisory Board.


Robert Arthur said...
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A very experienced and accomplished primary teacher colleague is now occupied in the state system teaching English as a second language. Several pupils are victims from total immersion schools. A greater misdirection of resources at all levels is difficult to imagine: the pupils abilities, the original education, the remedial teaching, the consequent catch up education, consequent misfit social behaviour, consequent unsuitability for much employment etc.
A major problem today is the declining achievements in maths and science. My guess is that the sort of rational objective persons likely to be good at teaching these subjects do not see themselves fitting comfortably into the current education system and seek other more rational employment. The stress of maintaining every day without the slightest falter the pretence that emphasis on a stone age language and culture is the path to future success for students and for NZ is more than genuinely objective rational souls can sustain.
And for those who have slogged through very demanding maths and science university courses, with their qualifications and teachings subject throughout to rigorous precise assessment, the concept of working alongside as equal some minimally educated, dubiously qualified, dubiously assessed but similarly paid teacher of a stone age hobby language, is more than many can bear.
Maori claim that the teaching of their language is to preserve it. But as Murray points out, the real outcome is obliteration of the true indigenous language. The real purpose is maori unification as path to political domination.

Anonymous said...
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There's certainly history and "history."

Unfortunately the distinction between the two has been deliberately blurred by the self-interested, whose agenda is to polarize rather than unite.

For instance, I can guarantee that the history below is not taught at Otorohanga College.

As outgoing Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe, reminds us in his 1922 farewell address: “In the Kingdom of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King. And he that does not know his own history is at the mercy of every lying windbag.”

Neither "Land Wars" nor “Maori Wars” accurately explain the basis of the conflicts that race mongers now wish to commemorate in order to further stoke anti-White and race separatist sentiments. Nor were they “New Zealand Wars.” These misnomers have been coined and propagated to imply the Crown made unjust war on a collective Maori in order to “steal” their land.

The war was in fact between the Crown and specific tribes, who challenged the Crown and lost. The Crown then punished these groups with land confiscations as it had earlier warned it would do if they didn’t lay down their arms and cease their provocations.

The tribes on which the Crown waged a series of localised wars between 1863 – 1878 were predominately based in the centre of the North Islam (Tainui, Tuwharetoa, Tuhoe) and had never signed the Treaty of Waitangi in the first place. Under the legal doctrine of privity of contract, only the parties to an agreement are bound by it or can claim its protection in the event of a breach. So no Treaty breach there.

The Tainui tribes set up a "King" as a rival sovereign to the Crown and drew a handful of other tribes outside the immediate locality who HAD signed the Treaty into joining them, such as elements of Taranaki’s Te Atiawa. The Kingite Movement was thus made up of aggressive challengers to the Crown's sovereignty and rebels against it.

The ensuing wars were brought on by a minority of Maori Chiefs who saw colonisation as a threat to their mana and power, especially as their people had begun to exit their tribal lands in order to live independently close to the larger cities and towns. A plan was hatched by the dissident chiefs to get rid of the Treaty, British Sovereignty, law and order, and to drive the Pakeha out once and for all.

"Sovereignty Wars" is the correct description of these conflicts, since they were undertaken both to extend the Crown's sovereignty over those who'd never acknowledged it, and to bring those who'd rebelled against it to heel.

Crown troops entered the Waikato in 1863-64 after numerous provocations from the Kingites that began several years before.

A number of Taranaki chiefs had in 1854 formed an anti-land selling league. Its ability to intimidate others who hadn’t joined the league was preventing local chiefs who wished to sell land they owned to the Crown from exercising their Treaty right to do so. In 1860, the Crown negotiated the sale of the Waitara Block with Teira, its legitimate owner. Wiremu Kingi acting as the head of the land league intervened to block the sale. The Crown upheld Teira’s right to sell.

Since the Kingite agenda was to resist further land sales and settler encroachment because they wanted the settlers gone altogether, this was manna from Heaven. After fighting erupted at Waitara on 17 March 1860, Kingite war parties travelled to Taranaki to meddle in a fight that was none of their business, in the hope of igniting a more general uprising against the Crown’s authority throughout the North Island. As John Gorst reports in “The Maori King:” “It became the fashion for all the adventurous [Waikato] men to spend a month or two in the year at Taranaki, ‘shooting Pakehas.’”

Anonymous said...
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Governor Thomas Gore Brown convened a month-long conference of around 200 chiefs at Kohimarama, Auckland, starting 10 July 1860, to confirm support against the Waitara rebels and to isolate the Kingites. Of the attendees, the only ones who endorsed Wiremu Kingi’s position in the Waitara Affair were his own relations.

Faithful Maori chiefs made it clear they preferred the peace of the Treaty of Waitangi to the murderous tribal wars that preceded it, and would hold to rule by Queen Victoria over the prospect of subjugation to a self-anointed upstart Tainui “king.”

The Kingites subsequently developed two plans of attack on Auckland, one involving a night attack in which the town would be set on fire in a number of places by Maori who’d taken up residence there for that purpose. Their stated intention was “to drive the Pakehas into the sea.” Before any such uprising could occur, the government issued an order on 9 July 1863 requiring all Maori living north of the Mangatawhiri River to take an oath of allegiance to the Crown and surrender their weapons. Those refusing to do so were required to retire to the Waikato. A further proclamation dated 11 July 1863 warned that those who waged war against the Crown would have their lands confiscated.

Crown troops crossed the Mangatawhiri River on 12 July 1863. Maori who refused to take the loyalty oath were evicted as the soldiers advanced. Fighting occurred at Meremere, Ngaruawahia, Rangiaowhia (southwest of Cambridge) and at Orakau (near Te Awamutu) during 1863 and 1864. The final military action of the Waikato War was on 2 April 1864, at Orakau. A proclamation confiscating land was issued in December 1864 under the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863.

The Kingites formally sued for peace in 1865, though sporadic guerrilla warfare waged by small bands of dissidents hiding out in Tuhoe country continued until the late-1870s.

A total of 619 anti-government Maori were killed in fighting in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty from 1863–1864, while 162 British troops and settler militia, settler non-combatants, and pro-government Maori lost their lives.

The confiscated Kingite territory initially comprised 486,501 hectares, including virtually all of Waikato north of a line drawn from Raglan to Tauranga. The Crown’s intentions were twofold. Firstly, to defray the cost of what had been an expensive war it hadn’t wished to wage in the first place. Secondly, the Crown intended to put settlers with military experience onto land in a buffer zone to be created between Auckland and the Waikato against a renewal of hostilities by the Kingites.

Anonymous said...
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Approximately 127,218 hectares were prior to 1873 returned to Waikato Maori who were judged not to have rebelled. The final confiscations totalled 359,283 hectares. It should be noted that nobody was turned off land that he identifiably occupied or cultivated. Large tracts of “waste land” with no identifiable Maori owners --“Crown Land” of the Kingites being the best description of it – was simply Gazetted as Crown Land, meaning all neighbouring tribes actually lost was the opportunity to turn land they didn’t own anyway into cash at some future point in time.

Once peace was made, the Kingites were treated as British subjects, a far more benevolent fate than they'd have suffered had they been conquered by another Maori tribe, and indeed considerably better treatment than the Tainui tribes had meted out to others during the Musket Wars of the 1830s.

Nonetheless, for around 70 years, Tainui kept up an avalanche of complaints and petitions that the land confiscations were both wrongful and excessive. Eventually, the Labour Party buckled to this pressure, and gave them something to keep Princess Te Puea and the Kingites in the tent for Labour.

In 1946, after what one commentator at the time referred to as “the biggest and most representative hui of the Tainui tribes ever held,” the Crown and Tainui signed the Waikato-Maniapoto Settlement Claims Act, the preamble of which read: "The purpose of this Act is effect a full and final settlement of all outstanding claims relating to the raupatu confiscations ..."

I call that a done deal.

Yet Waikato-Tainui were handed a second full and final settlement of $170-million in 1995, on the basis of what the Waitangi Tribunal asserted were “Treaty breaches,” despite never having signed the Treaty of Waitangi.

This settlement specifically excluded further claims that Tainui might mount over the Raglan, Kawhia, and Aotea Harbours, and to the Waikato River, so that one wasn’t “full and final” either.

The 1995 settlement went around the various Tainui subtribes for ratification, and was eventually endorsed by around 2/3 of the marae in the Waikato. A kaumatua at one of the dissenting marae famously told the New Zealand Herald at the time: “We do not see this as a full and final settlement, because who can anticipate the needs of future generations. To bind future generations like that is not the Maori way.”

And [part-] Maori continue to assert that the Crown has no honour ...

Anonymous said...
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Associated with lies about what were actually “Sovereignty Wars” are claims colonial troops headed by Colonel Marmaduke Nixon locked large numbers of women and children in the Rangiaowhia church and burned it to the ground with them inside.

Free history lesson as to the FACTS of Rangiaowhia.

People crapping on about white settler 'brutalities" invariably claim to have heard these accounts “from whakapapa."

This nonsense masquerading as actual history that can be relied upon has attained widespread currency via the Waitangi Tribunal. In Tribunal hearings, oral evidence is accorded the same weight as written evidence, and is not subject to cross-examination, because under Maori protocol this would be disrespectful to a kaumatua.

The Waitangi Tribunal justifies operating in this manner by stating that since it is not a Court, the same rigorous evidential procedures need not apply. But then it represents its reports as ‘gold’ that can be taken to the bank.

What a crock!

Te Maire Tau is the Director of the Ngai Tahu Research Centre at the University of Canterbury. He is also the official Ngai Tahu Tribal Historian. Tau writes in his book, published in 2008 with Ngai Tahu financial support, about all history being ‘political.’ Post-modernists call this “speaking ‘truth’ to power.”

"All history, it is sometimes said, is political, dependent always on perspective. For Maori, one can take the argument further. Accounts of others outside the kin group are irrelevant, because historical accuracy is secondary to maintaining tribal prestige. Objectivity is not the issue … This is an interesting aspect of how Maori view the past."

So Maori oral tradition is identified by someone who should know as no more than self-serving piffle peddled to suit the purposes of its purveyors. Complete horse shit, to put it crudely.

Let us dispense, once and for all, with the nonsensical idea that oral history -- as interpreted by people with agendas -- is the equivalent of written history as set out in the primary source accounts of eyewitnesses or those who recorded the observations of eyewitnesses.

One Taranaki kaumatua, in a threadbare attempt to paint a picture of a peaceful, advanced people rudely trampled down by a thuggish white settler government, claimed the illegal Parihaka commune closed down in 1881 generated and reticulated its own electricity.

Quite a feat, since the first NZ town to get the power on, Foxton, didn't achieve this until 1888. The Parihaka electricity [sic] clearly wasn't hydro-electric since the closest dam to the illegal settlement, the Patea earth dam, some 67km away, wasn't constructed until the 1980s.

Presumably it was wind-generated -- by the flatulence of kaumatua.

The same kaumatua claimed the illegal Parihaka settlement was extensively shelled from a British man-o-war moored off the Taranaki coast for this purpose before colonial troops moved in to close it down.

Quite a feat to repeatedly hit a target more than 10km away with no line of sight and using smooth bore cannon, a short-range ship-to-ship ordnance. If this indeed occurred, we can only wonder why there are no contemporary accounts of widespread property damage and extensive casualties amongst the inhabitants of the illegal settlement?

Primary source accounts record that almost 1800 colonial troops moved in to evict 463 illegal squatters – in overwhelming force precisely to avoid bloodshed -- and that the only casualty was a boy [later to became the famous Sir Maui Pomare] who lost a toe after his foot was accidentally stepped on by a trooper's horse.

I know which account I'm believing.

Anonymous said...
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Then there are repeated claims the Parihaka women were mass-raped by the soldiers. The contingent was headed by Native Minister, John Bryce, charged with reporting back to Parliament as to what transpired. The soldiers would have been well-aware that their conduct was under the scrutiny of the Minister. Several reporters were also present. There is not a single primary source account alleging brutality of any kind on the part of the soldiers, let alone mass rape.

This allegation is a disgusting slur on the reputations of men who are no longer around to defend themselves, and there is no proof at all of it. In another 100 years we will no doubt be finding out the soldiers held Te Whiti down while John Bryce defecated in his mouth. And there will be yet another “full and final” settlement and Crown “apology” on the basis of that fable, too.

Given contemporary reports of the widespread, filth, disease, and squalor the troops found when they entered Parihaka, I suggest they’d have been more interested in getting back to barracks and taking a long bath than in jumping on smelly, lice-ridden, probably poxed, nasty ass wahines behind an overflowing whare paku.

Let's be serious here.

A.G.R. said...
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What a brilliant article. That is why honest people regard the Maori language as a dinosaur language that is useless for communicating any where in the world.
Teaching Maori language in school is wasting time that could be spent teaching REAL science for example. Real Maori are making lives for themselves in the 21st century, not clinging to a stone age culture or language..

Anonymous said...
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There was no fighting at Ngaruawahia rather the battle of Rangiriri. When the gunboat Pioneer arrived at Ngaruawahia via the Waikato River in 1863 the place was deserted