“Album to Commemorate Invasion of Rangiaowhia to be Released”.
Meriana Johnsen. 22 November 2023
"More than 100 people at the pā - half of the women, children and kaumātua who were living there - were murdered, raped or injured”.
My complaint is based on Accuracy, Balance, Evidence and Sources. The sentence fails on all four of these standards.
Firstly, I have no knowledge of two of the people quoted in the story (Borrell & Harris) but do know of the writings of both Hazel Wander and Tom Roa.
Having read Ms Wanders much revised and criticised thesis on the subject of the events in 1864, when British troops over ran the village of Rangiaowhia, I am aware that she relies entirely on handed down verbal stories, over 3 or more generations, and emanating from children. No Historian or Genealogist would rely on such evidence.
Furthermore, it is known that the Missions at Te Awamutu and Rangiaowhia spent considerable time and effort running schools (with boarders) to educate young Maaori for up to 20 years prior to 1864. Historian O’Malley commented in his work on the Wars that “many locals were better educated than many of the troops” (sic). It simply is not credible that there were no writings from Maaori present at the time. Ms Wander also alleges the killings all took place in a church. When asked she responded that the church was Roman Catholic. I suggest that it is very unlikely that the Father at the Catholic mission in Rangiaowhia would tolerate a church of the same faith in the village.
I am aware that Tom Roa is a Professor and Historian. I would be very surprised if he was to be party to the claims made in the publication without having real evidence and quoting verifiable sources.
As far as written accounts are concerned, there were a number written soon after the event by eyewitness. The most illuminating by a Maaori named Potatau. He was a young lad at the time and the whare where the recorded deaths occurred was his family home. His written account was done when he was a young adult and was prompted by the very incorrect and biased writings of the Australian journalist Rusden. Sometime after the event Mrs Rahapa Power, (wife of the Irishman Thomas Power who was sent to the Waikato by Gov Grey c1846 to “Take British farming methods to the Waikato”) also wrote to Governor Grey seeking compensation for her losses of goods taken from her home by British troops. Neither referred to rapes are large numbers of deaths.
Of all the historical writings on the event the one most likely to be accurate was by James Cowan, a journalist/historian who wrote on the subject in 1922. He had lived in the Te Awamutu area, was fluent in te Reo and interviewed some who were present on the day. He made no mention of large numbers of deaths.
As far as contemporary writings are concerned, I would suggest those of Mr Bruce Moon of Nelson and the published book of Mr Piers Seed. “Hoani’s Last Stand” are well worth reading. On page 3 Seed quotes Cicero. “The first law for the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true.”
It is well known that British military were very respectful to the dead, be they friend or foe.
My understanding is that all who died at Rangiaowhia were taken to Te Awamutu and respectfully buried. Burials were not an easy task in 1864. Within weeks of the event the British had built a large redoubt in the middle of the settlement. They would hardly have done so if there were large numbers of bodies in the vicinity. Had they in fact disposed of the alleged 100+ bodies in a mass grave then it would be a simple task for ground penetrating radar to locate the site. Maybe News Hub might initiate such a search?
To repeat, my complaint is based on a lack of Accuracy, Balance, Evidence and Sources.
The News Hub article contains none of these values, as the foregoing and references to others writings clearly shows.
At the very least I would expect your organisation to apologise for publishing such a program and publish a retraction as early as possible. Quoting Cicero would be a good start.
Murray Reid is a retired businessman with a strong interest in genealogy and history.