Monday, March 7, 2022

Bruce Moon: And the History-Twisters win again!

“Waatea News”, 17 February 2022.

A locality near Whanganui which was the site of an unprovoked attack on tamariki Māori during the Land Wars has been returned to its original name. Accepting the recommendation of the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa, Land Information Minister Damien O’Connor said the change from Maxwell to Pākaraka addresses a long-standing Treaty grievance. ...

“Pākehā settlers renamed it in the 1870s to honour George Maxwell, the leader of a government militia which in 1868 attacked a group of unarmed Māori children with sabres and killed two boys.”

      *  *  *  *  *

Students of history do not need to be reminded that articles and statements by “Waatea News” do not always give an accurate account of events in New Zealand’s history. 

Half the truth, it has been said is often worse than a direct lie.  Here we have a glaring example.

In reporting the change of the name of the locality Maxwell to “Pakaraka”, accepted by Minister Damien O’Connor, Waatea News states (17/2/22) that it “was the site of an unprovoked attack on tamariki Māori during the Land Wars” when “a government militia ... in 1868 attacked a group of unarmed Māori children with sabres and killed two boys.”

Here, somewhat more fully, is the true story. (My thanks to D Jacobs and G Parker for some details.)

The event referred to occurred during the bitter rebellion by Titokowaru who, in reviving the practice of cannibalism is reputed to have said “I have begun to eat the flesh of the white man ... My throat is continually open for the eating of human flesh by day and night.”

A strong force of rebels, who were both skilful and ruthless, was known to be present at Nukumaru and a report was received that some of them were raiding the farm of a settler, Handley, in the neighbourhood.  A cavalry patrol led by Maxwell was despatched to deal with them.  Approaching the scene, the cavalry heard a commotion. It takes little imagination to sense the heightened awareness and rush of adrenalin amongst the troopers as they drew their sabres and prepared to attack. 

In they went and in a few brief moments two of their quarry had been slain and several wounded before it was realized that the their quarry were youths who were attempting to kill a pig with a knife in Handley’s barn and it was the squeals of the pig which had alerted the troopers. 

The youths were hardly innocent unarmed children.  They had posted two lookouts on the roof of the barn, having  already burnt down Handley’s house.  They were looters in a time of war and as such met their fate.

So who should be blamed for that?  Titokowaru?  The boys’ parents for less than adequate supervision of their “tamariki”?  How close to the truth is the Waatea News statement that it was “an unprovoked attack on tamariki Māori”?  How balanced is the Waatea News statement that “a government militia ... in 1868 attacked a group of unarmed Māori children with sabres and killed two boys.”  Shorn of any account of their context, are these statements, these half-truths, not worse that outright lies?

So, now: officialdom yields again.

The history-twisters get their way again.

The district loses an historic name.

And a “treaty grievance”, Minister O’Connor?  Next they’ll be claiming that an untoward change in the weather is a “treaty grievance”!

*    *    *    *    *

Let all New Zealanders who care in any way for their country, and would honour their heritage, be aware that in this there is an example of the distortion of our history which confronts us time and again today and whose consequences it is not hard to conjecture.

Bruce Moon is a retired computer pioneer who wrote "Real Treaty; False Treaty - The True Waitangi Story".


RRB said...

Ask the leader of the opposition if his new government will repeal O'Conners regulation.
A yes or no will suffice.

Robert Arthur said...

Quite apart from anything else, very distinctively named Maxwell now becomes one of a jumble of similar sounding maori names. On the not infrequent occasions I have cause to refer to that now supposedly momentous place in NZ history, Parihaka, I have to hunt out one or other reference to make sure of the spelling. Now we have Pakaraka to further add to the confusion. I suppose it all helps fill in the time for the Maori Studies hobbyists.
The incident at Maxwell will soon be elavated to rank alongside Rangiaowhia.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Moon questions if the Waatea News statement is not worse than outright lies.

The total killed, reported by Colonel Whitmore who was in charge of the cavalry, was eight killed with sabre, revolver, or carbine. Maxwell only killed 2 with sabre.

What is the evidence that it was an unprovoked attack? Colonel Whitmore with 66 cavalry remained in concealment for an hour and a half before they “perceived a considerable number about…the woolshed” then gave the order to charge and attack a group of unarmed Māori children aged between six and 12.

According to the Evening Herald, in September 1868 only 2 month’s prior to the attack, Maxwell’s house was burnt by Maoris. Perhaps the “rush of adrenaline amongst the troopers” was compounded by this recent event affected Maxwell’s judgement, and who, in Colonel Whitmore’s words, showed “extreme gallantry..[and] who himself sabred two and shot one of the enemy”.

Another historian, James Belich, gives an account of this attack in ‘I shall not die’: Tītokowaru’s War New Zealand 1868–1869. He describes the brutal killing of a 10-year-old Ngā Ruahine boy, Kingi Takatua, whose head was cut in half in the attack.

Imagine today, if the police who charged the protestors occupying parliament’s lawns in Wellington injured children in the melee. Would we then look to blame the parents or the protestors or the police? It seems “historian” Bruce Moon is the history twister.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Moon responds to Anonymous:

An extensive enquiry was conducted after Titikowaru's rebellion had been quashed.

The Handley farmstead had been burned down two days earlier.

A mixed group of youths and boys collected at Handley's woolshed,
evidently to loot what they could, two being posted on the roof as lookouts.
Two youths attempted to kill a large pig with a knife. Its squeals alerted the cavalry who charged in and in the subsequent melee two boys were killed. The lookouts had fled. It was not an afternoon tea party

The commentator describes me as a 'historian' in quotation marks. I am not a
historian. I am a scientist. to whom the accuracy of evidence is of critical importance. Many of today's professional historians are mediocrities and the new history syllabus is little more that racist propaganda which will brainwash our children and give them a false account of New Zealand, the fair colony.

That is another story.