Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Roger Childs: Book Review - Who Really Broke the Treaty?

This movement (kotahitanga /mana motuhake) to break up the country, moving towards a new form of ‘indigenous’ apartheid, is spearheaded by absurd claims of special rights supposedly set down in the Treaty of Waitangi, and false stories of harm done to Maori by colonization. John Robinson

The answer to the book’s title question has huge implications for New Zealand.

Waikanae’s John Robinson is one of the country’s best historians. He has written more than ten books on New Zealand history covering various subjects related to the last 200 years and the present scene. They are all based on extensive research with an emphasis on primary sources and the observations of people writing at the time. He rejects Maori oral history as being unreliable, a conclusion endorsed by the great Maori writer Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter Buck)

Basically John Robinson says that it was Maori who broke the Treaty and he provides copious evidence to back his conclusions, which begs the question what have we got a Waitangi Tribunal for? 

Set up in 1975 the Tribunal has been investigating and ruling on breaches of the Treaty by the Crown and European settlers. Maori breaches are not considered – murdering civilians, robbing goods and stock from farmers and other settlers, burning down homesteads and farm buildings, and rebelling against the government.

Personal experience

The author has first-hand experience of the dishonesty of the Tribunal. As an expert in demography (the study of population) some years ago he was asked to provide evidence linking the population decline of Maori after the signing of the Treaty to the introduction of British control and subsequent colonization. After extensive research, John Robinson could find no evidence of such a correlation, but concluded that the slaughter of thousands of women and girls in the pre-1840 inter-tribal wars meant that after 1840 there was a shortage of potential Maori mothers and a consequent decline in population numbers.

The Waitangi Tribunal would not pay him unless he changed his findings. (This also happened to academic Giselle Byrnes.) This patent dishonesty of the Tribunal set John Robinson on a path of writing books that rejected the falsification of our country’s story and set out to tell the truth about New Zealand’s History.

A dishonest and incompetent organization

In examining the breaches of the Treaty, the author highlights the many shortcomings of the Waitangi Tribunal and how it has steadily grown into a self-perpetuating racist body with the goal of dividing the country and promoting the special rights and status of part-Maori. 

He covers how the organization:

·      uses a variation of the unauthorized English “Freeman Treaty” to make decisions instead of relying on the only valid agreement: Te Tiriti o Waitangi which was written in Te Reo;

·      fails to acknowledge the manifold breaches of Te Tiriti by Maori:

·      encourages Maori groups to “find” evidence of the Crown and other authorities disadvantaging Maori:

·      has made judgements based on inaccurate evidence, which have given hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to tribes, and divided the nation in a New Zealand version of apartheid. 

He favours the immediate closing down of the Tribunal and an end to the “Treaty industry” gravy train. He laments the fact that mainstream media support the status quo and will not objectively examine current Tribunal issues.

What lies ahead?

The author is not confident that the present National-led Coalition will turn the tide. He likes the idea of David Seymour’s proposals to enshrine three basic principles about New Zealand in our “constitution” – upholding sovereignty, furthering democracy and supporting equality for all. How could anyone not support such fundamental beliefs?

However he is dismayed that Prime Minister Luxon is lukewarm on the ideas of having a referendum on the principles, and given a positive majority, passing legislation to embed them in our constitution.

John Robinson is concerned that most of the country’s population are complacent about the current situation – New Zealanders lack an understanding of the shared ideas that bind a nation together. The last two sentences of the book spell out what needs to happen. New Zealand must collectively wake up and turn from separatism, racism and apartheid to equality and unity. Until then, the majority will continue to be subordinate, and the possibility of racial conflict will remain.

An important book to read

Who Really Broke the Treaty is right up to date and amongst several useful appendices are the Coalition Agreements which spell out, among many policy goals, ACT’s and New Zealand First’s wishes related to dealing with the present inequality and division. National has agreed, but is currently dragging its feet on taking action.

John Robinson’s timely 158 page book is fluently written and carefully researched with supporting footnotes and a comprehensive set of references. Ask for it at your local bookshop or library and, if they don’t stock Tross publications, tell them it’s time to stop the boycott on the company’s many excellent books. 

Alternatively, you can order online at and purchase the book for $35, postage paid.

Roger Childs is a retired teacher who taught History, Social Studies and Geography for 40 years.


Anonymous said...

For years I have been saying I cannot believe sensible, supposedly intelligent politicians, and the public at large, have allowed our country’s laws to be rewritten based on Chinese whispers. Logic and commonsense a thing of the past, aided by a paid media.

Peter said...

Anon@6.22am, interesting you should say that, but just yesterday "The Post", in its usual quite deliberate, unbalanced fashion, published yet again another column by K Gurunathan, the former Kapiti Coast Mayor. As is his usual tack, he insinuates there are many evils done by colonisation, but which are so fortunately addressed by the supreme and virtuous Waitangi Tribunal, who ably see through the Crown's smokescreen of wrongdoings visited upon what he would unquestionably recognise as the down-trodden and exploited indigenous population. Of course, his claims are largely unsubstantiated and appear wholly reliant on those WT findings.

If anyone should read the good Dr's books it should be him - after all he also appears to be a near neighbour. But then, just because intelligence is close by, it doesn't mean it in any way rubs off on those surrounding.

Don said...

HOW MANY ANGELS CAN DANCE ON THE HEAD OF A PIN?How many erudite and factual explanations can expose the fallacy of the Treaty as presented by the Tribunal before some notice can be expected by those in power over us? My wife has Alzeheimers and repeated explanations to her questions gets very wearing at the rate of several per hour. Repeated explanations from several authentic sources is also very wearing when the only response favours those who twist history for their own self-interest and pretend they cannot comprehend what is going on. The dreaded A_disease seemingly takes many forms.