Sunday, August 11, 2019

Clive Bibby: The green, green grass of home

I've never been much of a Tom Jones fan although l do admire his ability to keep drawing the numbers to his less frequent concerts.

However, the one song of his that gets me humming along is a nostalgic rendition of "The green, green grass of home".

I was reminded of its capacity to bring grown men to tears, including me, as it played on our car radio during a recent return to my turangawaewae near Waipawa in Central Hawkes' Bay for a family reunion.

Our family had once owned a sizeable chunk of this beautiful part of New Zealand's pristine farmland and although statistically our control over what happens on that land is less significant today, it is impossible to ignore the memories of that association which come flooding back when you re-enter the zone.

As a student of history, l am proud of the fact that our tenure as kaitiaki of this magnificent piece of our national heritage has been recorded in honourable terms.

Right from the time in the late 19th century when my great grandparents legitimately acquired the land - most of it in a non productive state - and began the long, slow, expensive and at times heartbreaking process of development, succcessive generations have shown that they appreciate how fortunate we were to have chosen this lifestyle as a vehicle to make our contribution and this area to call our spiritual home.

Other families, both Maori and Pakeha, can testify to this sense of belonging as an ideal basis for building societies confident in their own skin- each one proud of their individual successes in establishing footprints for others to follow.

Apart from the shear hard work involved conserving and maintaining each property ready for handing on to future generations, there will always be a need for appreciating the requirements of a management role.

Whether our names are on the deed of title or not, our responsibilities to the nation is far more important. Our individual occupancy is temporary - the land and its surrounding community is permanent.

Understanding those responsibilities are the main features of communities who want to continue moving forward for the benefit of all - learning from the past but not continually litigating it.

I say that as we watch yet another sad chapter of our colourful but fractured history, (this time at lhumatao), which has produced little else apart from unsightly squabbles between family (hapu) members over land ownership and whose view should hold sway.

It is a shame that so much energy is wasted trying to establish leadership and negotiating authority in what are really only family disputes when a compromise solution should not only be achievable but would be the one to benefit all.

Why do we pander to these groups of unfortunates who appear to want nothing more than a public scrap at the taxpayer's expense. Is it fair to ask our police force to keep their vigil watching over proceedings on a freezing night well out of range of the warmth from the protestors' log fires? I think not!

None of this current generation is serving their people responsibly if they spend most of their waking hours in front of the cameras. Their time as kaitiaki may have come but it already has all the hallmarks of wasted opportunities.Their tupuna's memory deserves better.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.


Anonymous said...

The Kingites and their affiliates claim that Crown land confiscations and the Crown's "invasion" of the Waikato in the 1860s were "illegal."


The Treaty of Waitangi was not with a collective "Maori." It was with tribes in a constant state of war with one another and inhabiting two main landmasses. The was no country until the English came and created one under the sovereignty vested in Queen Victoria by the Treaty of Waitangi.

Some 512 chiefs signed the TOW, and a substantial minority in the centre of the North Island (Tainui, Tuhoe, and Tuwharetoa) refused to, meaning there were probably around 600 of these individually insignificant groups.

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. Tainui never signed the Treaty, so the Kingites should never have been included in the Treaty settlement process.

Back in the day, the Kingites loudly proclaimed that because Tainui didn't sign the Treaty, they could organise as they saw fit on their own land, including electing a 'king" to govern themselves.

I'm inclined to agree with that view.

However, all that changed once the Kingites started projecting power outside their rohe.

They began a series of escalating provocations that led Governor Grey to first issue strongly-worded warnings, then move into the Waikato to put the Kingites in their place.

Followers of the self-anointed Tainui upstart ‘king’ were either aggressive challengers to the Crown’s sovereignty (tribes who hadn’t signed the Treaty of Waitangi) or rebels (Treaty signatories who’d repudiated their undertaking by mobbing up with the Kingites).

The Kingites and their allies refused to accept the legitimate government, had tried to set up a rival kingdom, and to force Europeans out of their territory. They’d fought against the Government in Taranaki, threatened Auckland, and murdered settlers.

After war, some of their land was confiscated. This was legitimate under law -- as well as according to Maori custom -- and the Kingites had been forewarned.

Only about 4 percent of NZ's land area was eventually – and quite rightly – confiscated from tribes who'd challenged the Queen's sovereignty and lost. They had been warned in advance this would happen if they didn’t pull their heads in.

When conflict was brewing in 1863, Governor Grey made this crystal clear:

“Those who wage war against Her Majesty, or remain in arms, threatening the lives of Her peaceable subjects, must take the consequences of their acts, and they must understand that they will forfeit the right to possession of their lands as guaranteed to them by the Treaty of Waitangi.”

Anonymous said...

Here’s Sir Apirana Ngata on this matter:

“Some have said that these confiscations were wrong and that they contravened the articles of the Treaty of Waitangi. The [majority of the] chiefs placed in the hands of the Queen of England, the sovereignty and the authority to make laws. Some sections of the Maori people violated that authority. War arose from this and blood was spilled. The law came into operation and land was taken in payment. This itself is a Maori custom—revenge, plunder to avenge a wrong. It was their own chiefs who ceded that right to the Queen. The confiscations cannot therefore be objected to in the light of the Treaty.”

Once peace was finally made, the Kingites were treated as British subjects, a far more benevolent fate than they'd have suffered if 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.

Here’s how Tainui invaders conducted themselves in the Taranaki at the sacking of the Puke-Rangiora pa:

"It is said that twelve hundred of Te Ati-Awa and their allied hapus were killed or captured in the final overthrow of the pa. The greater part of the prisoners were women and children, and these were driven back into the pa to be killed or tortured at leisure. That day Waikato glutted themselves on the bodies of the slain lying in gore around the pa.

"The next morning the prisoners were brought out, and those amongst them whose faces were well tattooed were decapitated on a block of wood, with the view of making mokaikai, or preserving them, as trophies to be taken back to the country of the Waikatos. Others, with little or none of this decoration, were immediately killed by a blow on the skull. It is asserted that Te Wherowhero [the first Maori ‘king’] — the head chief of Waikato and principal leader of the invaders — sat in the gateway of the pa, and as the prisoners were brought to him he killed one hundred and fifty of them by a blow on the head with his jadeite mere named 'Whakarewa,' and that he only desisted because his arm became swollen with the exercise. The headless bodies were thrown across a trench, which was dug to carry off the blood lying in pools about the plateau on which Puke-Rangiora stood. Others, less fortunate, were killed with every conceivable form of torture; some again were cast into the ovens alive, to the amusement of their sanguinary foes. Young children and lads were cut open by incisions made hastily down the stomach, enviscerated and roasted on sticks placed round large fires, made of the palisading of the pa.”

Interesting to note that twice as many Maori were killed by other Maori in this one massacre, than in all the fighting between Maori and colonial forces in the entire Waikato War.

Grey was entirely justified in putting down an increasingly aggressive foreign power on his doorstep that threatened the peace and security of the colony. As victor, the Crown was entitled to deal with the vanquished Kingites as it saw fit, including taking land off them as punishment for picking a fight.

Let it be said again: the victor dealt remarkably mercifully with the vanquished.

If the subject land was in fact confiscated from Ihumatao Maori in the 1860s -- something nobody has done more than assert without providing proof -- the Crown was fully within its rights in asking them to take a loyalty oath to establish their peaceable intentions.

Nothing "illegal" about that either under the Treaty of Waitangi or outside it.

It would have been military suicide to leave a group of potentially hostile fifth columnists to the rear of the troops, astride their line of supply, and close to an undefended Auckland.

Anyone refusing to take a loyalty oath and electing instead to retire to the Waikato and stand with the Kingites made their bed and got to lie in it, I say.

Russ said...

In the Mt Messenger, Taranaki area there is a New Zealander farmer whose family has farmed the property for generations – his land is also the route for a proposed State Highway by-pass – the proposal has just been through an Environment Court hearing and there is a proposal to set up a committee (KFG) to oversee things such as naming the road – this is what was said by the local Maori iwi’s lawyer in regard to the landowner and his wife being members of that committee –

“Morrison-Shaw said the iwi wanted to limit the scope of the KFG to those who qualify to be deemed kaitiaki.
The job of the KFG is to have input on the design and construction of the project on a range of tasks, including naming the road. (SH3)
She said being a intergenerational land owner was not the same as having a relationship with the land as tangata whenua, achieved through whakapapa links.”

Sounds a wee bit racist to me.

Anonymous said...


Free definitions lesson for anyone who struggles for clarity in these matters.

Racism is often conflated by the ignorant with simple prejudice, which it is not. Principled opposition to unearned racial privilege is not racism. Nor is it typically evidence of prejudice.

There is only one race. The human race. Much of what is commonly referred to as "racism" is actually ethnocentricism.

And the most disgustingly prejudiced, ethnocentric people in this country are part-Maori who have raised up one group of ancestors while trampling down another to identify monoculturally as "Maori," chopping whole branches out of their family trees in order to do so.

Those who believe in a single standard of citizenship, colourblind government, and the abolition of unearned privileges for part-Maori are the complete opposite of their ethnocentric opponents.

But the actual racists have carried out a clever "bait and switch,” and conned the liberals seeking public virtue-signalling and moral preening opportunities into accepting their redefinition.

As black American political economist, Thomas Sowell, reminds us: "Sixty years ago if you believed everybody should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, you were a radical. Thirty years ago, you were a liberal. Today, you're a 'racist.'"

Racism is different beast altogether. It occurs where a group of prejudiced, ethnocentric individuals get together to colonise or create a system affording them separate, different, or superior rights to everyone else on the basis of group membership.

In a free society all citizens enjoy individual equality in citizenship. This is so whether some of a citizen’s ancestors arrived in a canoe in 1350, a sailing vessel in 1850, an ocean liner in 1950, or more recently by airliner. Even someone who put his hand up 30 seconds ago at a swearing-in ceremony is entitled to all the rights of citizenship. Prior arrival or ancestral longevity in the land is no basis for special privilege.

Group rights are anathema to a free society. They create two classes of citizenship where only one existed before. Group rights require the intervention of an activist government forcibly taking rights from one group to bestow upon another. As Richard Prebble reminds us: “One group’s positive discrimination is another group’s negative discrimination.”

In Preferential Policies: An International Perspective, Black American academic, Thomas Sowell records the downstream effect of government-sponsored identity politics. Touted as promoting inter-group harmony, Sowell found that wherever such policies had been tried, they invariably expanded over time in scale and scope, benefited already advantaged members of the preference group (those with the smarts to work the system), and led to increased rather than decreased inter-group polarisation. In many places they have brought about decades-long civil wars.

Of course, any downstream proposal that the beneficiaries of state-sponsored identity politics revert to being treated the same as everyone else will make such groups squeal like stuck pigs. As Thomas Sowell reminds us: “When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.'

I will leave it to readers to determine whether New Zealand is a racist country, and if so, in whose favour this racism operates.