Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson saying that “New Zealand’s efforts [are] already well down the path.”[i] So perhaps now is the time to have a good look at what all this is about!
It all seems to have started when former Prime Minister Helen Clark visited United Nations headquarters in 2007. In September that year the General Assembly of the United Nations passed its “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People”, UNDRIP. Of the four nations which refused to sign it at the time, Clark explained that she had not done so “because of legal concerns”.
Rosemary Banks, New Zealand’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in her address to the United Nations on 13 September 2007 went a little further, outlining why New Zealand could not sign the Declaration:
“Madam President, the place of Maori in society, their grievances and the disparities affecting them, are central and enduring features of domestic debate and of government action. Furthermore, New Zealand has an unparalleled system for redress accepted by both indigenous and non-indigenous citizens alike.”
When John Key became Prime Minister he had no such reservations. To assure himself in 2010 of a parliamentary majority by gaining the support of the Maori Party which had two seats, he secretly send Pita Sharples to the United Nations. Sharples, it is understood, recited his “whakapapa”, and signed the Declaration. At no stage did Parliament have an opportunity to debate the issues.
Well, we do have a certain section of New Zealand’s population known as “Maoris”, where Maori is defined by Parliament as “a person of the Maori race or a descendant of such a person.” In short this says: “A Maori is defined as a Maori.”
Clark, like Banks, had no hesitation in accepting that such people are “indigenous”, saying at an online seminar in Chile in on 17 March 2020: “The Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840 between indigenous tribes and the representative of the British Queen, is regarded as our country’s founding document, and government at all levels is expected to act within its ethos of partnership”, referring the following day to a “significant indigenous population”... “16.5% of our population who are indigenous.” She was of course referring to our part-Maoris, so there can be no doubt of where she stands!
And Peeni Henare, MP, chips in, saying he’s “keen to hear an urban Māori view of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” and “what is the role of tangata whenua”.[ii]
So all this is rather curious, is it not? What Article third of the Treaty of Waitangi actually did was give all the ordinary, or maori people – “tangata maori katoa”–- the same rights as the people of England – unprecedented and extraordinarily generous in its day – but not more! Moreover, nowhere, simply nowhere, does the treaty refer to “tangata whenua” or “partnership”. It does refer to “wenua” but nowhere to “whenua”. One might have thought that with the interminable and exhausting attention given it today, the proponents of Maori rights and privileges would at least get their basic facts right!
And the other thing that all these people accept without question or so it appears, is that part-Maoris are “indigenous”. In view of the looseness of so many their assumptions, it is time to take a careful look!
Populating the Pacific
The spread of human population to almost every inhabitable island[iii] of the vast Pacific is surely one of the most remarkable achievements of our kind. The major moves were of course of Melanesians to the western Pacific followed by Polynesians to the east but people from other stock surely participated and there are accounts from early recent European explorers of fair-skinned people amongst others in some of the islands. The ocean travels of Thor Heyerdahl[iv] have certainly shown that voyagers from the Americas could also have discovered and settled Pacific islands. In the course of their ocean travels, at least some explorers will have made landfall in New Zealand though no reliable accounts have survived[v] – after all, very much smaller islands were discovered and settled. The Polynesians were certainly capable ocean navigators[vi], though most navigators have an intended destination![vii]
Be that as it may, in the depths of antiquity, some people who were not Polynesians found their way here and settled. There is incontrovertible evidence of this occurrence, artificially placed monoliths being convincing evidence to those who have eyes to see.[viii][ix][x]
But it is human remains which establish the presence of such people here beyond a shadow of a doubt. Reconstruction of the face of a woman whose skull was found by one Jim Eyles at the Wairau Bar in 1939 establishes conclusively that she was not a Polynesian and other evidence from the site confirms this.[xi] There is similar evidence from other parts of the country.
Even more compelling is the presence today in New Zealand of people of the Ngati Hotu tribe with fair or red hair, pale skin and green-blue eyes who assert that they are not Maori but survivors of more ancient people who were almost driven to extinction by the Maori invaders. Moreover, their distinctive DNA confirms this![xii]
If the word “indigenous” has any meaning, then it is these people who were and are the truly indigenous people of New Zealand.
The Polynesian Arrival
Adverse weather conditions in the thirteenth century, for which there is evidence in the coral reefs[xiii] led to severe food shortages on some eastern Pacific islands.[xiv] One island might be severely affected whereas another a few days’ sailing away was not. This could lead to attacks from one island on another by those on the brink of starvation and a severe warrior culture with associated cannibalism developed. Thus emboldened, it would appear, the more adventurous set out in their ocean-going canoes and found their way to the shores of New Zealand. While the once fashionable notion of a “Great Fleet” appears now to be highly improbable, it is well established that eight canoes[xv] did arrive in New Zealand from the eastern Pacific, the best of modern scholarship indicating that they arrived in the interval 1325-1400.[xvi] It is from these arrivals that part-Maoris today assert that they are descended and there is no serious reason for doubt.
So what about the Maoris?
1. We know when they came: ca 1350
2. We know whence they came: Eastern Polynesia – confirmed by language comparisons, inter alia
3. We know how they came: in the aforesaid canoes
Indigeneity implies that none of these key facts are known or at best only deduced indirectly![xvii]
It is a blatant falsehood to asset that Maoris are the indigenous people of New Zealand.
One may assert here that it would be justice for Ngati Hotu to receive their due from the Maori tribes which have oppressed them – and not indeed from the long-suffering taxpayer. That aside:
Talk of any Maori being indigenous should be removed now from all discourse and action. It is no more than a plausible politicians’ trick to mislead the people of New Zealand.
[i]W.Jackson, “Waatea News”,2 July 2021
[ii] P. Henare, ibid.
[iii]Indeed, attempts sometimes went beyond the feasible. The failed attempt to populate Henderson Island in the Pitcairn Group is an example.
[iv]E.Hesselberg, “Kontiki and I”, Allen and Unwin, 1950
[v]The tales of Kupe and others are almost certainly quite modern fictions.
[vi]D.Lewis, “The Voyaging Stars”, ISBN 0 00216404 3,1978
[vii]I have myself navigated by the stars in polar waters when bound for McMurdo Sound.
[viii]M.Doutré, “Ancient Celtic New Zealand”, ISBN 978-0473053673, 1999. While the structures Doutré describes were undoubtedly man-made, it is not necessary to subscribe to his hypothesis that the builders were Celts. Who they were remains a fascinating question.
[ix]And the sinister intent of influential people who do not want us to see is revealed in the prohibition of entry to certain Northland forests where such monoliths undoubtedly occur!
[x] M.Doutré, op.cit., http://www.celticnz.co.nz/Wharewaananga/WharewaanangaPart1.html 25h June 2021
[xi]“New Zealand Voice”, 4 December 2017, pp 6-11
[xii]“DNA To Rock The Nation”, elocal Mini Book Series, ISBN 978-0-473-38851-5, 2016
[xiii]As I was informed personally by noted author and researcher, Barry Brailsford, ca 2015
[xiv]As noted by myself personally on Ambrym, Vanuatu in 2005
[xv] Aotea, Arawa, Tainui, Kurahaupo, Takitimu, Horouata, Tokomaru, Mataatua
[xvi]This curiously reflects almost exactly a much earlier estimate of the “great fleet” arrival in 1350.
[xvii]As modern DNA analysis indicates, the original people of the whole of the Americas, numbering probably not more that a few dozen, will have migrated from western Asia by a land or ice bridge across Bering Strait some time around the last major ice age. Their descendants today may fairly be called “indigenous”.
Bruce Moon is a retired computer pioneer who wrote "Real Treaty; False Treaty - The True Waitangi Story".