Thursday, July 21, 2022

Bruce Moon: A University Professor denounces our wicked ways - As he sees them!

In “Stuff” for 16 July 2022, Jacob Edmond, a professor of English at the University of Otago, has written an “Opinion Piece”. In it, he says “mainly Pākehā writers and scholars speak out against what they claim is the inappropriate use of such words as ‘racism, ‘colonisation’ and ‘science’, [reflecting] a common fear: the fear of confronting the complexities and uncomfortable truths of this land, of coming to terms with their position as Pākehā in Aotearoa ... and their failure to confront the difficult history of colonial settler society [which] are Pākehā problems.”

Well, well, well! Most of that will come as quite a surprise to most of us! Just for a start, it might be news to him that many of us, descended from colonists from Europe, find his use of the term “Pakeha” complete with the mandatory bars over some vowels to be culturally offensive. Second, he appears to be ignorant of the plain fact that “Aotearoa” was never a name for New Zealand in pre-colonial Maori usage, but was simply concocted as such by a couple of white men in the 1890s (with a few loose occasional references earlier). If he doubts this, he could try looking for it in the Treaty of Waitangi where the Williams, seventeen years in New Zealand and fluent in the Maori language, would certainly have used that name had Maoris been doing so. But these, when all is said and done, are merely fashionable, but silly, peccadilloes.

He goes on to a loose discussion of the concept of “race” which is freely enough acknowledged today to be faulty in a biological sense, but we all know what we mean by it in a general sense and after all, our esteemed Parliament “defined” a “Maori” as a “person of the Maori race and includes any descendant”, albeit that was, and continues to be, sheer nonsense.

Edmond goes on then to claim that “Māori colonised a country inhabited only by birds. They were colonisers only in the sense that they were the first people to discover and settle in Aotearoa despite [being] thoroughly debunked but persistent myths to the contrary.” [His colour and emphasis] Well that of course is the fiercely claimed official view, but what about the megaliths at Waipoua, clearly products of a pre-Polynesian culture, to which public access is forbidden, with those who dare to enter being fiercely opposed by local Maoris? There is plenty of other similar evidence for those who have the eyes to see. Edmond could try reading Barry Brailsford’s “Song of Waitaha” to discover that there was quite a variety of people in our country, some clearly not of Polynesian descent, before the Maori colonial immigrants in their seven canoes got here.

A this point we note an illustration within Edmond’s article, proclaiming in large bold letters “IMAGINE AOTEAROA WITHOUT RACISM, HOMOPHOBIA, SEXISM, TRANSPHOBIA, OPPRESSION THIS WAS AOTEAROA BEFORE COLONIALISM”. Well, yeah, right!

Really? With continual inter-tribal warfare in pre-Europeans settlement times, there was cannibalism and slavery on a massive scale for which plenty of evidence exists, with “almost unbearable anxiety” (to quote E. Sagan) amongst almost all Maoris, conscious of attack, often at night, by war-parties from other tribes, the Maori equivalent of racism. Female infanticide was well-established while women did most of the menial work such as was not done by slaves. Warrior males were dominant. That is sexism in my book!

That inter-tribal warfare reached a new pitch in the so-called “Musket Wars of ca 1807-1837, with cannibalism continuing on a colossal scale as its grim associate.

By John Robinson’s careful estimates, 43,600 lives were lost through battle in a population numbering 127,000 at the start. That is more than one third of Maori people died at the hands of other Maoris. Poor population structure led to continued decline in the early years of the colonial era in which extensive interbreeding with the colonials led to a gradual recovery. Is Edmond aware of any of this?

Colonization – or “colonialism”, if you prefer, saved Maoris from disasters of their own making, make no mistake. So, while the placard might have been the choice of the editor of “Stuff” rather that Edmond, it is racist propaganda, stark evidence of the efforts of rampant racists and their fellow-travellers, bent on dividing our country along racial lines to their own advantage and in the process destroying democracy, for which many New Zealanders, including the Maori battalion, fought and sometimes gave their lives. Countries where democracy has been lost seldom prosper.

Edmond notes that in 1853 Governor Grey expressed a sense of British superiority. The hard facts of Maori practice – endemic warfare, cannibalism, slavery, violent land grabs and infanticide surely demonstrate that he was justified! But it is quite false to deduce that he and others “assumed the right to dispossess Māori of their land, resources, and culture in part because they viewed themselves as racially and culturally superior.” In fact, Grey was very active in his efforts to do good to Maori people, with sustained efforts to introduce them to the many superior foodstuffs of the Europeans and guidance in their cultivation. Grey too, showed remarkable patience and moderation in his negotiations with the Ngati Maniapoto and associated rebel tribes.

As one example of the good intentions of the British towards Maoris and also the superiority of their technology to anything Maori, on the day after his arrival, Hobson issued a proclamation printed by the missionary press, to review all earlier land sales which the chiefs had eagerly undertaken in exchange for European trade goods. By and large, colonist eagerness to buy land was equalled by Maori eagerness to sell which indeed sometimes exceeded it. Thus an 1850 Maori offer “to sell off the residue of Maori land lying south of the Molyneux River towards Foveaux Strait ... to the White men for ever” received a courteous but firm refusal. Protection of Maori owners against unscrupulous land dealings was explicitly stated in article second of the Treaty of Waitangi. Edmond ignores all this.

He proceeds to discuss what he calls falsely the “Taranaki Land Wars”, more accurately the Taranaki tribal rebellions, with a claim that they “were a deliberate attempt to destroy the independence and culture of Taranaki’s Māori.” Far from this being the truth, they arose from a much more complicated sequence of events. One was the return under the benevolence of “Pax Britannica” of a thousand or more Taranaki Maoris who had been taken as slaves to the Waikato following their successful brutal invasion some years earlier. Another was the return of a similar number who had fled south (and subsequently invaded the Chatham Islands with almost indescribable brutality towards the peaceful inhabitants). Almost inevitable conflict arose between the two returning groups with murder and other brutalities amongst them.

Another complication was Governor Fitzroy’s ill-judged decision to nullify the purchase of much land by the colonists, herding them back into a small area around New Plymouth town. The tribes fought over the land abandoned and then in 1860-1, 177 settler homes and farmsteads were destroyed by tribal violence. As missionary Samuel Ironside, resident there at the time, noted “I ... was an eyewitness of the patience with which the settlers there bore repeated instances of outrage, and insult, and wrong at the hands of the natives.”

And Taranaki was the source of the Hau Hau rebellion with its many atrocities and of course the Parihaka cult with many false stories of brutality of the troops when it was subdued..

So what does Edmond know of all this? Very little, it would seem.

But to proceed ...

I quote him: “Firstly, the effects of the initial wave of colonisation live on in the experience of generations of Māori families who have struggled against but inevitably been affected by the theft of land and resources, physical and psychological brutality, cultural destruction, and language loss.”

Really? Was there no end to the barbarism of the colonists – almost pathological in their desire to brutalise the innocent Maori people if Edmond is to be believed?

I quote (again): “the same colonial legal, educational, and governmental institutions that did the damage in the first place live on and continue to do damage today (witness the problems with Oranga Tamariki).” So no Maoris, it would seem, have any responsibility for their own health and well-being – ensuring that their children go to school, for instance, truancy amongst Maori children said to be approaching one half. How dearly would Muslim girls in many countries love to have the opportunities that too many of our part-Maoris squander today!

But language loss? Nothing precludes anybody speaking today one of the thirteen or more pre-Treaty dialects of Maori, unwritten of course but adequate for small isolated societies in the South Pacific. But English is the language which will get them almost anywhere in the world. Today’s synthetic language “Te Reo” will hardly get them out their own back door. How wise indeed were Wi Te Hakiro and 336 others who petitioned Parliament in 1876 that “there should not be a word of Maori allowed to be spoken in the [native] school”. Much is sometimes made of the fact that Maori children might unwittingly forget this edict when adopted and received corporal punishment but brutal as indeed this was, it was the practice in those days, and in my own schooldays it still applied to us all when school rules were broken.

So then, Edmond proceeds with “several prominent scholars have objected to mātauranga Māori’s place within the school science curriculum.” [his colour and emphasis]. Well, thank goodness, seven such courageous people did just that to the howls of outrage of many others, some alleged scientists amongst them. Now actually, it was only when scientific knowledge began to extract itself from the web of religion, superstition and hearsay, led by such scholars as Roger Bacon in the thirteenth century and Galileo Galilei, with due acknowledgement to some Persian and Arabic scholars, that it began to progress towards the brilliant and complementary conjunction of theory and experiment which we know today – and which incidentally has brought with it almost all the material and recreational benefits which Edmond and Maoris enjoy today. And, like it or not, these magnificent achievements are primarily those of the European or “Western” world.

In sharp contrast, such empirical scientific knowledge as exists in “Matauranga Maori” remains embedded in those archaic circumstances from which real science has been liberated. One only has to look at the list of pseudo-reasons concocted by the grossly biased Waitangi Tribunal in its “interim report” on alleged Maori rights to water to recognize this - motivation in part, one suspects, for the current sinister “Three Waters” project. Simply put, it is politically motivated nonsense to claim that “Matauranga Maori” should be accepted into the school curriculum and elsewhere into scientific activities. This is not to deny any of it which proves itself to be an addition to real scientific knowledge its place in that great universal achievement which is modern science. That we may await with interest.

There is no “troubling double standard” amongst “writers, scholars, and scientists” whose criteria for acceptance as scientific knowledge are the same for “Matauranga Maori” as for that from any other source. Edmond could well do something to close the glaring gaps in his own knowledge and then take his own advice in a move “towards the humble pursuit of understanding”. Something better could surely be expected from one with the rank of professor.

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


Anna Mouse said...

The totally 'well rounded' academic with little if in fact, no actual knowledge of what they speak.

It is a sad fact that in New Zealand when the more qualified you are in Arts and Literature the more ignorant, intolerant and indolent you become.

Thank you Bruce for being the opposite.

Anonymous said...

Why aren't white people in usa made to feel.guilty for the english and european settlers that colonised usa in 16th century? Why are huge swathes of land there being given back to the red indians and a co-governance arrangement being set up with them and the white house? Why? Beacause it would be seen as absolutely ridiculous and hugely racist. Mz is mpre comparable to failed states like zimbabwe where people were kicked off their farms. How many years before that happens here?

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder if Jacob Edmond, and all the other sweeties with their 'hearts in the right place" will be moved to read your erudite piece and follow up with more reading - of which there is an enormous amount freely available in public libraries, and convincingly well-researched. I know, I have been doing this solidly for the past year - including any written by Maori. Very interesting - and never encountered during my education.

It is the huge and crass IGNORANCE of most people in NZ,(including many Maori of their own history) which is overwhelmingly apparent. I wish we could hear more from Maori who know not only te reo but a way of being Maori which may be distinct from those who have lived a common 21st century/industrialised life, belatedly discover a Maori great-grandparent, whom they may never have met, and then claim to represent the race and produce He Puapua(and I don't entirely discount DNA - interesting-?)
Speaking of race, I do not at all deny gross racial slurs perpetrated by some Pakeha towards Maori(and I never even read Twitter et al). I am truly deeply ashamed of some in my culture, whether they speak from malice or simple stupidity. But we need not be so patronising as to assume we are not all brothers/sisters under the skin. Have you heard some Maori talking about Pakeha?

Janine said...

It's just a way to get money is it not? Meanwhile I look around me at all the wonderful things Europeans have provided for the individual person. Healthcare( so good, that Maori clamour for their own), glasses, hearing aids, mobility skooters, walking frames and hip replacements..... I don't see Maori refusing these benefits.

We also have the computers, mobile phones, TV's, boats and flash cars....I don't see Maori going without those.

We have comfortable homes, restaurants and overseas travel....I have seen most Maori take advantage at some stage.

What a complete rort this all is.

Robert Arthur said...

If Edmond was not recruited to help compile the school history curriculum, the organisers missed a great opportunity.

Anonymous said...

What a disgrace. No wonder our educational systems are in such a parlous state with people like Edmond, one assumes leading the way? Yet another to be added to the long list of the ignorant, academic woke like the 2000 who had the audacity and stupidity to take umbrage at the Listener 7.

ihcpcoro said...

In 1830 Britain had a passenger steam rail service operating between Liverpool and Manchester, a distance of some 40 miles over very difficult terrain. They led the world in technology. Compare that with Maori society at the time when the (generous imho) Treaty was signed with Great Britain in that very active (and often violent) period of global colonisation.

Don said...

As an "old,white male" my comments will probably be discounted with those three words summarising the three trends being exhibited by the woke generation and indeed by Government, namely, ageism, racism and sexism.
Voodoo and mumbojumbo are being forced upon us by a government that seems to be intent on establishing apartheid. Their methods are simply bullying . While not encouraging the traditional practice of chopping their heads off has anyone thought of resurrecting the charge of treason?

Anonymous said...

What have the Romans ever done for us? Law and order, sanitation, religious freedom, yeah but what else, the aqueduct, oh shut up! - Monty Python

Anonymous said...

My apologies for suggesting that Edmond's name should be added to those reputed 2000-odd academic sheep who took umbrage at the Listener 7. Now having a list of those signatories, I see his name is about 300 up from the bottom. How stupid of me for even a moment to have thought otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I read a comment that said Maori should be grateful for all the modern advantages bestowed by colonisers. Let us consider how our warrior instinct was used in Britain’s war efforts. Let us also consider how returning soldiers were able to enter a ballot for farmland, but not Maori soldiers.
Britain made an orphan of NZ when they joined EEC. Britain’s enemies became our (NZs) trading partners. The best modern conveniences cane not from The Motherland of the Colonists but from enemies of the Colonists. When was the last time that Britain supplied any modern conveniences that we should be eternally grateful. Vehicles? clothing? Electrical goods? Whiteware? Optical equipment? Boats and Planes? Military equipment?
But the real pluses have been Health, Education and Wealth. Ummmm statistics tell me that I am wrong. My Iwi, having been defrauded of their land, were awarded land under the South Island Landless Natives Act which Colinisers rejected as being suitable for their agricultural purposes. What did they expect “advantaged Natives” to do with this gift?
There never was a collective term “Maori” used by NZ Natives.
British Colonisers had a need to have a broad brush term for brown skinned native NZes and hence “Maori” was created.
It wasn’t until the mid 1940s that the Government changed the Native Land Court to Maori Land Court; The Department of Native Affairs to The Department of Maori Affairs; The Minister of Native Affairs became the Minister of Maori Affairs.
Native NZers were tribal based and described themselves as belonging to Iwi within physical land and water boundaries, they never claimed to be Maori and/or to be the owners of NZ. If that was the case why did the Crown/Government enter in Treaty Settlements with Iwi? rather than Maori?