Saturday, November 28, 2020

Bruce Moon: Rotorua Boys’ High School in the news

In recent days, for three reasons, Rotorua Boys’ High School has been in the news.

1.  It has been awarded “Apple Distinguished School” status.

2.  In a “first” it has appointed a woman of Maori descent as Deputy Principal.

3.  It has disposed of the portraits of four distinguished Englishmen because, as research by the boys is said to have found out, they had links with slavery.

Let us take these events one-by-one.

1. “Apple Distinguished School” status.

Rotorua Boys’ High School has received this award because it shares Apple’s vision for education.

We congratulate the school for this distinction.  It joins 534 other schools in 32 countries.

2. In a “first” it has appointed a woman of Maori descent as Deputy Principal.

We congratulate Rie Morris upon her appointment and wish her well in it. Her descent, she says, is from the Te Arawa, Ngati Rangi and Ngati Whakaue tribes.

3. It has disposed of the portraits of four distinguished English seamen because, as research by the boys is said to have found out, they had links with slavery

Well, let us say at the outset: slavery is one of the most abhorrent of all human abuses upon their fellows.  Some general observations are:

Slavery is and has been widespread throughout history, practised by every race, in every culture, country and civilization the world has known – possibly some minor and remote tribes excepted.

In many parts of the world. slavery, in one shape or form, continues to exist today.

It is to the clear credit of “Western Civilization”, of the “white race” on this earth, that slavery has been abolished amongst them and they continue to be pre-eminent in its suppression.

Apart from a brief period during the French revolution when slavery was abolished in French territory – and restored by Napoleon – it was the British who were foremost in countering slavery.  The first step was to make illegal the traffic in slaves in British ships – the transport of human beings captured on the African coast or obtained in trade with the more powerful native potentates.  The next step was the suppression by the Royal Navy of this traffic by ships of other European nationalities.  Probably William Hobson participated in this during his service in the West Indies.

During this phase the large number of slaves already employed did continue, notably on sugar plantations in the West Indies.  However, the reformers did not rest and in 1838, slavery was abolished in its entirety in all British territory throughout the world.

And so, what about Drake, Frobisher, Raleigh and Nelson?

The first point that must be made very clearly is that, like everyone who has ever lived, they were men of their time.  In those days slavery was practised throughout the world, as it had been during the “Golden Days” of Greece and Rome, by the Chinese, Arabs and almost everywhere else one might care to name.  So too, at least before Nelson’s time, were the practices of burning people at the stake for their religious beliefs or as witches, public hangings of those judged to be criminals for what we should consider trivial offences.  Are we so holy that we are in a position to condemn the whole of humanity for the practices of the past?

Even by today’s standards, the positive achievements of Drake and Nelson vastly outweighed any negatives – by those of their time these men were all justly considered to be heroes.  Perhaps the boys of RBHS could reflect on these facts and their own somewhat impulsive and superficially considered actions.

And so what about the Maoris?

Yes, indeed!  Slavery was commonplace amongst the Maori tribes – and in their case strongly associated with cannibalism.  Indeed, when a tribe was on the warpath, slaves could sometimes be taken along as fresh meat “on the hoof”!  Again, on  the return home of the Waikato tribes following the fall of Pukerangiora in Taranaki in 1831, about a thousand slaves were forced to accompany them carrying the severed heads of their well-tattooed chiefs as war trophies.

Closer to home, in 1818, Ngapuhi with allies including some Ngaiterangi (Rie’s tribe, I think) ravaged the coast of the Bay of Plenty in an expedition which reached as far as Hicks Bay.  Hongi went home with a large number of prisoners, said by some to be as many as 2,000 including several chiefs, with  many preserved heads of the slain.  On arrival the prisoners were shared out as slaves of the victors’ families.

Another Ngapuhi war party with some Te Arawa (another of your tribes, Rie!) headed south, killing nearly all the inhabitants of Te Roto a Tara pa near the present site of Te Aute College.

These are but a sample of the many cases of warfare with cannibalism and slavery practised by all the major tribes in New Zealand.

And so, when Hobson, in exchange for the full cession of sovereignty by the chiefs, offered all the Maoris of New Zealand (tangata Maori katoa o Nu Tirani) the rights and privileges of the people of England, that automatically included their slaves!  What a boon those slaves of Maoris received from the emissary of the Queen!

And so, Rotorua boys, will you remove all traces of Maoridom from the precincts of your College or will you show some real maturity and restore the portraits of some true British heroes which were so precipitately removed?

And when you leave school, will some of you perhaps go out into the world and work actively to suppress modern slavery in all its pernicious forms?

(Acknowledgement.  For some of the events outlined above I am informed by John Robinson’s “Unrestrained Slaughter, the Maori Musket Wars 1800-1840”, Tross, 2020, ISBN 9781872970680.

For others the source was “The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.)

Bruce Moon, Southland Boys’ High School, 1942-6


Mike Davies said...

Well said sir. The twisting of truth/ the deliberate subversion of actual history/ the hiding or straight ignoring of historical events that don't suit - is so common these days I despair for the country.

Owen said...

It is to be hoped that Bruce Moon is cataloguing the material he has, copying it and making sure it will be kept safe over future years. Part of revising history is the removal of material seen to be counter to the cause of the revisionists.

Indoctrination of our children using false and biased material is to be abhorred. We must keep fighting this by all means.

Mary-Ann said...

Good books to read are Moriori a people rediscovered by Micheal king, only available thru library, and pakeha slaves Maori masters by Trevor Dentley available in some book stores. Every school should have them and teach history correctly not just one sided.

Allan said...

A great article Bruce,
I hope you sent a copy to the boys at Rotorua Boys High, & every other school to ensure the false fact, indoctrination history, that is taught in schools today, is countered by facts for a change..

Anonymous said...

It is axiomatic that western civilisation is built on two founding documents. The Magna Carta and the Constitution of the USA.
Never forget that both of these were written by white, Anglo Saxon, Protestant Christian, male, land owning businessmen.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bruce for bringing many facts about Maori history to life.
I am 77 years old and remember being taught much of what you are stating about wars, cannibalism etc.
I had almost begun to think my memory ,which isn’t the best these days, was failing as ‘modern ‘ corrupted history appears to be pushed upon students.
As a retired school teacher I am appalled at what is being foist upon young people under the guise of History.
I believe it to be a form of Separatism.

I thank you Mr Johnson ex NZ Army WW2. for being an excellent teacher of true NZ history