Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Bruce Moon: Historypunk

‘Historypunk’ a subgenre of ‘Mythpunk’, itself ‘a subgenre of mythic fiction’ in which classical folklore and fairy tales get hyperpoetic postmodern makeovers - Catherynne M. Valente

What I tell you three times is true - Lewis Carroll “The Hunting of the Snark” 1876


One morning recently, this ninety-three-year-old woke up feeling rather angry.  It was not about his own ageing – which might have been sufficient cause – but about the lie upon lie so often repeated about a significant event in New Zealand’s history – the occupation of Rangiaowhia on 21st February 1864 by troops under the command of General Sir Duncan Cameron during the rebellion by some Waikato tribes.[i]


Now here is how the true story starts, as related by former military chaplain, Frank Glen.[ii]  General Cameron, “with commendable humanitarianism” wanted to avoid a frontal attack on the rebels’ strong fort at Paterangi which would have led to heavy losses on both sides.  He planned therefore to cut off the rebels’ food supplies from Rangiaowhia which was thus an active centre of the rebellion, not simply a haven for the old and weak as revisionist sources pretend today.  Moreover, to achieve the minimal loss of life, he planned a surprise attack early on a Sunday morning.  In this he had remarkable initial success.


Approaching the village, the advance guard led by Captain Wilson encountered a number of women and children. Obeying his instructions[iii] they ran to the nearby home of settler Thomas Power[iv] where a white flag was raised and they were not harmed. 


As the troops entered the village, some residents entered the Catholic church and commenced to fire on them.[v]  Just two were killed and, finding the walls not proof against musket fire, the remainder fled to an adjacent swamp and were not pursued further.  The church remained standing for many decades and at the time was used as a billet by some of the officers.  The stained glass in the windows of the Anglican church remained intact.


Repeated rebel claims of a church-burning, chorused by many today, are a foul, foul lie!!


With the action apparently over, Captain Wilson’s attention was drawn to an occupied slab hut fashioned as a gunpit.  He called on the occupants to come out and one man, “a big Maori”, his wife and son, Potatau, emerged, the man being taken prisoner.[vi]  The Captain then ordered Sergeant McHale to enter the hut and call on the occupants to surrender.  McHale obeyed and was shot dead at point-blank range!


Then followed a furious action in which Colonel Nixon fell mortally wounded and the hut was incinerated, its occupants perishing.[vii]


Had the armed occupants of the gunpit whare not shot Sergeant McHale, success in the action would have been almost total.  Indeed, on visiting the site some little time later, rebel leader, Wiremu Kingi reported: “There was only one house burnt; that was the house where the Maoris died. I went there and saw it.” Rebel resolve was seriously weakened by the loss of Rangiaowhia and, while they still held out in their fort of Orakau, the days of the rebellion were numbered and peace eventually returned.  As historian Chris Pugsley has observed, Rangiaowhia was the decisive action of the entire conflict, a severe economic setback for the Kingitanga and a blow to its morale.  From then on the end of resistance in the Waikato basin was only a matter of time.”

Sadly, though, that is not the end of the story.  At a meeting at Kopua some months later, Captain Wilson met a couple of Wesleyan missionaries who challenged him about the “murder” at Rangiaowhia. It came to light that shortly after the action, the rebels, furious at being so outwitted, started spinning lies about a church-burning and other atrocities. These spread like wildfire amongst those only too willing to believe them and have been nurtured by Ngati Apakura and their associates ever since.  The  “anguish” they are reported to experience today is wholly self-inflicted!


Current evidence of this is the activity reported by Menana Johnsen, in “newshub” for 22/11/23 entitled. “Album to commemorate invasion of Rangiaowhia to be released.”  It continues: 

“A group of accomplished Māori musicians are creating music to change that.  [They] have brought their skills as songwriters and composers together for an album project, Rangiaowhia.

The project is led by Oceans Before Me Charitable Trust which creates music about traumatic events impacting indigenous people, with the aim of  promoting healing through waiata. 

Rangiaowhia is an 10-track album featuring waiata written about the invasion of Rangiaowhia on 21 February 1864, and the subsequent rebuilding of the identity of the people there, Ngāti Apakura.

More than 100 people at the pā - half of the women, children and kaumātua who were living there - were murdered, raped or injured.  ... A number of wānanga were held with Rangatira from Ngāti Apakura, Tom Roa, Hazel Wander, Moepātu Borell and Bill Harris, so the artists could learn more about the atrocities from those who’ve lived it. “


How’s that for historypunk??


1. There were no “indigenous people” involved.  Any claim that Maoris are “indigenous” is false.

2. There was no “invasion of Rangiaowhia”, simply a legitimate action to recover it from rebels.[viii]

3   The statement that “More than 100 people at the pā – half of the women, children and kaumātua who were living there – were murdered, raped or injured” is, as we have related, a foul lie which has been festering in Ngati Apakura for nearly 150 years!  What a legacy of anguish its original liars imposed on their own people who have borne it ever since!

It is people like Tom Roa and Hazel Wander who have kept the lies alive.  I wrote to Roa.  In his reply he said, amongst other things: “I reject the tone and your interpretation of facts and events in your letter.  ... Indeed, your letter forces upon the reader your purpose which is to further the lack of real scholastic rigour in the historicity of the events referred to. ... Sir, it is you who are deceitful; you who are inciting racial hatred [and more in the same vein]!  Carried away by his own rhetoric, Roa has described the Rangiaowhia affray as a “war crime”. (“Stuff”, 21/22/20)[ix]


He refers to the writings of Belich and O’Malley.  For the many flaws in the writing of the former, refer to Robinson.[x]  Similarly for the latter, refer to my text, “New Zealand; the fair colony”, 2nd Ed, ISBN978-0-473-53728-9, pp26ff which gives a rather fuller account of events of the day than we give here.

But alas, that is far from the end of this story, with people in positions of considerable authority continuing to sponsor such tales, perpetuating the foulest lie about any event in our history.  It has been repeated time and time again in one form or another by many people amongst whom I have nominated some elsewhere[xi] They include, with sources as referenced: Tommy Wilson[xii], Eraka in a ‘blog’, JOC Phillips, Susan Devoy, Vincent O’Malley, Arini Loader as well as members of Ngati Apakura and deceived children of Otorohanga College.  One of these was Leah Bell whom Vincent O'Malley snapped up to advance his cause.  She in turn was invited by Richard Crawford of Fairfield College to address youngsters from seven schools in the Hamilton area, retelling the same false tales.


I contacted the principals of all the schools concerned.  I did not receive one reply.


The sequence was much the same when I wrote to Bishop Stephen Lowe, now Catholic Bishop of Auckland when he was Bishop of Hamilton, who had repeated the same lies from his pulpit.  I copied my letter to all his fellow bishops.  Again, all I received in response was a deadly silence.


This is warfare upon the people of New Zealand, fought not with the gun but with words or, in its turn, silence – “omertà” to the Sicilian Mafia.


I contacted Giselle Byrnes, Provost at Massey University, said according to her blurb to be “an internationally recognised historian”, to point out serious flaws in a master’s thesis written by Hazel Wander.  She replied to the effect that whether there was a church-burning at Rangiaowhia was not really the point which was that Ngati Apakura believed it to be so.   She proceeded to block any further correspondence from me.


Such is “academic freedom” as practised in New Zealand universities today.  Such will be the “received version” taught in New Zealand schools tomorrow if activities such as the proposed song and dance of such people as the  “Oceans Before Me Charitable Trust” proceed unchallenged by the people of New Zealand.  In their hands the remedy lies. 


Need I say more?

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


[i]     Not all the Waikato tribes rebelled. Ngaati Tiipaa, Ngaati Whaawhaakia and the Tainui tribe of Raglan-Te Aakau  remained loyal to the Crown.  J.Robinson,”The Kingite Rebellion”, 2016, ISBN 1872970486,p.289 

[ii]    F.Glen,”Australians at War in New Zealand”, ISBN978-1-87742-739-8,2011,p.146

[iii]   Wilson was competent in the Maori tongue

[iv]   Power, sponsored by the benevolent Governor Grey, was actively teaching the local Maoris the skills of agriculture and horticulture - amongst many of the benefits of colonization

[v]    Substantial caches of small arms and ammunition were found in the village, falsifying rebel claims that it was open and unprotected. 

[vi]   Many years later Potatau, by then a man, told his story on which much of this account is based.

[vii]  For more details, see my text “New Zealand, the fair colony”, ISBN 978-0-473-53728-9, 2nd Ed., 2020 or article in “New Zealand Voice” for March 2017, pp 40-43

[viii] J.Robinson, op.cit., treats the topic very fully.  It included at one stage a plan to invade Auckland and slaughter most of its inhabitants

[ix]   Since the numbers of people killed at Rangiaowhia and Tuamarina are approximately the same and the latter is now labelled officially at the site an “affray”, it is a reasonable deduction that Rangiaowhia should be described by the same term!

[x]    J.Robinson, “When two cultures met, the New Zealand Experience”, ISBN 1-872970-31-1, 2012

[xi]   B.Moon, op.cit.,p23

[xii]  Whose tale in the “Bay of Plenty Times” on 12th August 2009 goes: “troops herded all the local Maori up like cattle and locked them in the church and then set it alight ... killing all 144 inside ... only one three-year-old girl escaped.”    Yeah?  Right!


Anonymous said...

Thank goodness there are still some true scholars.

Historypunk - what a great description of the mess NZ is in.

Anonymous said...

93 and still has the commitment and strength to contradict Historypunk.


Kawena said...

I am amazed at the "lies, damned lies, and statistics" that are still doing the rounds about our history. Hitler and his cronies used these to good effect. Will these people who tread the lies understand that 1000 Waikato tribesmen descended upon 600 Patupaiarehe people who lived peacefully on the banks of the Wanganui and Ongarue Rivers at Taumarunui in 1832, slaughtered many of them, and took them down to the rivers, washed then cooked them,
and dined on their flesh? Those that remained alive became slaves! New Zealand will have no future while lies are treated as facts about its history.

Peter said...

I'm sure I'm not alone in being extremely grateful for your truly sterling efforts Bruce, in defending the truth against those that seek to distort it for their own ends.

And at 93, you share the vintage with another living legend - Thomas Sowell. Well done sir, and as Mr Spock would say - live long and prosper!

Thank you.