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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Bruce Moon: An Open Letter to Two Associate Professors at Waikato University


Dear Associate Professor Leonie Pihama and Associate Professor Tom Roa,

You have both seized the opportunity you perceive in the recent appalling tragedy in Christchurch to present what one of you calls “colonial terror and violence since 1642”[1] with the other saying “Maori had been victims to acts of terrorism in Aotearoa in the past”.[2] And Police Deputy Commissioner of Maori and Ethnic Services Wally Haumaha chimes in, about “historical killings of Maori at different times and across the country during early colonisation”.[3]

Well, now, perhaps it is timely for us to look with care at these allegations.  Profesor Roa refers to “the attacks on Parihaka and Rangioawhia”.  Of the latter he says “In 1864 Crown troops set fire to a whare karakia .. during morning prayer, incinerating non-combatants, including tamariki and kaumatua.  ...[A]n eight year-old boy ran out of the whare  ... and he was shot dead”.  Well no, Professor Roa, on several counts.  Your “whare karakia” was actually a gunpit, full of armed rebels and a “kaumatua” inside, one Hoani Papita, shot dead Sergeant McHale who invited him to surrender, thus starting the conflict in which the whare and those inside were incinerated.[4]  The boy, Potatau, ran out safely with his parents earlier when invited to do so.  Many years later he told his story in which the humanity of the troops was abundantly clear.[5]  So, Professor, if your story is what you tell your students, you are deceiving them and inciting racial hatred into the bargain.    The action at Rangioawhia was actually a humanitarian effort by General Cameron[6] to defeat the Waikato rebels by destroying their food supplies, thus avoiding a direct attack on their fort at Paterangi which would have caused many deaths on both sides.

And Parihaka?  Its inhabitants were squatters on Government land. Far from the haven of peace which so many claim today, it was actually the centre of a rather nasty cult, ruled by fear, not love. “They adhere to Te Whiti and obey him because they dare not do otherwise.  ...[T]he horrible dread of being makutued, bewitched, or bedevilled to death is an ever-present fear.”[7]  “It is evident from the quantity of arms seized that the Natives were by no means so unprepared for the eventuality of war as has sometimes been represented.”[8]  As Homi, son-in-law of Tohu said at Te Whiti’s funeral: These men were past masters in word-painting; that is all! You have been deceived.”[9]  Again, the occupation of Parihaka followed a humane plan by Government leader, Bryce, to assemble sufficient force to make it apparent that any resistance would be futile.  This succeeded brilliantly; as is well known,  the only casualty being a boy whose foot was accidentally trodden on by a trooper’s horse.  Yet you, Professor Roa, state “The Māori world remembers the theft and killings at Parihaka”.[10]  A memory lapse perhaps?

Are these “acts of terrorism in Aotearoa in the past” of which “Maori had been victims”, Professor?  I don’t think so.    There were such in colonial times - the night-time attack by Te Kooit’s rebels on Matawhero with the slaughter of seventy sleeping residents, half of them Maori.  And children were not spared.  At Mohaka, the three Lavin boys were killed by throwing them in the air and impaling them on bayonets.[11] Three Gilfillan children were tomahawked to death at Wanganui on 18th April 1847.[12]  On 13th February 1869, a Waikato/Maniapoto war party led by one Wetere Te Rerenga butchered the three Gascoigne children, their parents and two unarmed men at Whitecliffs and then proceeded to slay missionary Whiteley who had served the native people for 30 years.[13]  The perpetrators avoided punishment.  Waikato/Maniapoto, Tom?  Your tribe, I think.

Now Professor Pihama, talking of “colonial terror and violence since 1642” can only be referring in the first instance to the slaughter of one of Tasman’s boat’s crews by Tumatakokori. Now that’s curious, isn’t it?  And Tumatakokori themselves were exterminated as a tribe by Ngai Tahu about 1800 in a battle in the Paparoas.[14]

Then, 127 years or about five generations after Tasman, the first Maori fell to the gun of a European in Poverty Bay when he attacked one of Captain Cook’s cutters with only four unarmed boys aboard and was shot by the alert coxswain.  An act of “colonial terror and violence”, Professor Pihama?

Indeed, a couple of years later, a substantial number of  Ngati Pou were killed by Frenchmen valiantly defending their hospital on Moturua Island against ten times their number, after their Captain, Marion du Fresne, had been killed and eaten for unwittingly breaking a tapu.[15]  “Colonial terror and violence”, Leonie?

Now, learned Associate Professors, although you make no reference to it, you are surely aware that New Zealand’s history did not begin in 1840.  Cast your minds back only a couple of decades and consider some events of those times with barely a European in sight.  Thus in 1822, Hongi Hika and his Ngapuhi, well armed with muskets he had bought by astute trading, attacked the formidable Matakitaki Pa of the Waikato, said to be the refuge of as many as ten thousand including many women and children..[16]  Virtually defenceless, in “their mad panic hundreds of the fleeing Waikato ... were smothered in one of the deep ditches of the defences or were shot by the merciless Ngapuhi, who fired down upon the writhing mass till tired of reloading.”[17]  “[M]ost of the Waikato” died.[18]  Now THAT surely qualifies as “terror and violence” - and against your own people so surely you have not forgotten??

But Waikato had their moment of glory.  In revenge for an earlier defeat, in 1831 they attacked the great Te Ati Awa pa of Pukerangiora.  After a three-month siege the starving defenders broke and ran, 200 dying immediately,  Waikato chief Te Wherowhero, later the first Maori “king”, smashing the skulls of more than one hundred until his arm got tired.  Huge numbers of the dead were gutted and spit-roasted over fires for a cannibal feast.[19]  Now THAT you must surely agreed, qualifies as “terror and violence” with not a wicked colonial in sight!

And on it went. In 1835 two subtribes of Te Ati Awa had their turn as conquerors too when they invaded the Chatham Islands. About 1600 innocent and genuinely pacifist islanders were soon reduced by systematic slaughter and cannibalism to a mere 101.[20]   “Terror and violence” - by a Maori invasion of another people’s land.  Some colonisation!  Would you deny it?

“J’accuse!”[21].  I accuse you of using the tragic events in Christchurch for an inexcusable attempt to advance a racist political agenda and in contempt of all the fine principles of scholarship which a university should stand by.  I am sickened by its hypocrisy.

Yours sincerely,
Bruce Moon


FOOTNOTES:
[1]     L. Pihama, “Stuff”, 18/3/19
[2]    T. Roa, RNZ News, 21/3/19
[3]    W. Haumaha, “Stiff”, op.cit.
[4]    Two men did emerge late from the whare and were shot by the troops, enraged to see their colonel fall mortally wounded and their comrades killed.
[5]    Potatau, “Brett’s Historical Series”, Auckland, 1890
[6]    F.Glen, “Australians at war in New Zealand,”,willsonscott, 2011, p.146
[7]     “Otago Daily Times”, 9/11/1881.  Note that this account was compiled from a reporter on the spot just four days after the occupation by Government authorities.
[8]     Ibid.
[9]     Homi, Hawera & Normanby Star, 1907, 5
[10]   T. Roa,Te ao Maorinews, 21 March 2019
[11]    A. Plover,  “Blood and Tears”,Tross, 2018, p. 121.
[12]    Ibid., p.57
[14]    W.J. Elvy, “Kei Puta te Wairau”, Cadsonbury,1957, p.27
[15]    I. Wishart, “The Great Divide”, Howling at the Moon Publishing, 2012, Chapter Three
[17]    W.P Reeves, The Long White Cloud”, 1898, p. 113
[18]    L.G.Kelly. J. Polynesian Soc., 40, 157, 1931, p.55
[19]    For a full account see “history and traditions of the maoris of the west coast, north island of new zealand, prior to 1840;  fall of puke-rangiora pa.1831 (second siege)
[20]    M.King, “Moriori”, Viking, 1989, esp. p. 59ff
[21]    Emil Zola to the President of France on the miscarriage of justice in the Dreyfus trial, 1898

1 comment:

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I am a decendant from the Ngati Papakura tribe and have relied on Professor Tom Roa's telling of the Rangioawhia massacre. It is important to me to be able to understand the truth about my ancestors. Thank you for what appears to be an unbiased and honest retelling of what actually happened.
Dave Carroll