Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Don't mention the war

The most obvious question was the one Susie Ferguson didn’t ask during an interview on Morning Report this morning about the Crown’s settlement of Moriori compensation claims.

Speaking to Moriori spokesman Maui Solomon about yesterday’s passing of the Moriori Claims Settlement Bill, Ferguson tastefully avoided any mention of the invasion of the Moriori homeland Rekohu (aka the Chatham Islands) in 1835 by the Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama tribes from Taranaki, who killed or displaced an estimated 95 per cent of the peaceable resident people and enslaved the survivors. You might call it a “don’t mention the war” moment. 

Most listeners would have been wondering, like me, why the Crown (in other words, the taxpayer) is compensating Moriori for events that occurred five years before the Treaty of Waitangi was signed – events the Crown wasn’t implicated in, had no control over and for which it therefore bore no responsibility.

But that question wasn’t asked. Instead, Ferguson asked Solomon whether the $18 million in the settlement package was enough.

“It’s never enough,” came the reply. “We asked for much more, but how do you compensate [for] genocide?”

I should make it clear here that I’m not getting at Solomon, still less minimising the enormity of what happened to the Moriori. No one could begrudge them the return of their waahi tapu (which is also part of the settlement package), nor quibble about the significance of Parliament’s acknowledgment of their existence after they were for so long effectively written out of our history.

But the genocide – which is exactly what it was – wasn’t the Crown’s doing, and it seems only fair to ask why the Crown should be taking the rap for it. I would have been genuinely interested in hearing Solomon’s explanation, but we weren’t given the chance.  




Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I've seen argument that essentially tries to blame colonialism and white supremacy for a deliberate strategy of Crown non-involvement and passivity in the face of the genocide, i.e. "they could have stopped it but didn't". I'd be surprised if anyone on the mainland knew what was happening, and can one even label it "colonialism" given NZ wasn't even a colony in 1835?

Max Ritchie said...

If you read Crosby’s “The Musket Wars” you get a good explanation of the 20 year period before the British drafted a treaty. Not only did the Crown have nothing to do with this invasion of the Chathams (and therefor the genocide was committed by and compensation due from two Maori tribes) but a number of tribes didn’t sign the treaty. The Treaty is widely considered to be what saved Maoridom from destroying itself. I’m not so sure. Crosby explains that the universal acquisition of muskets was the main reason, along with Christianity. Solomon is onto a good thing but he ought to be ashamed at taking this money and apology. They are coming from the wrong people.

Kiwialan said...

The snouts in the grievance trough couldn't give a damm about history or facts. The weak lefties and Maori activists know they only have to hold the begging bowl out for it to be filled with tax payer's hard earned money. Kiwialan.

Max Ritchie said...

And note that Minister Willy Jackson, whose is a member of the invading iwi, stated that he could not be held responsible for the actions of his ancestors. Yet we’ve handed over billions because of the alleged actions of the British government! Perhaps now is the time to ask for it back.

Ricardo said...

I think the basis here is that the Crown did nothing after the Treaty had been signed to address Moriori oppression when it should have.

Specifically, the settlement package includes a Crown apology for historical breaches such as the Crown’s failure to act to end the enslavement of Moriori, the failure to protect Moriori from becoming virtually landless, and the Crown’s contribution to the stigmatisation of Moriori as a racially inferior people who became extinct.

Orinoco Jones said...

The highlight of the whole thing has to be this statement:

Minister of Māori Development Willie Jackson said it was an honour and privilege to speak as a descendant of Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Mutunga - who invaded, occupied and enslaved Moriori on the island.

”Some people might think it's not right for someone like me to speak given the mahi I do and what happened with my ancestors but I've always said and to a number of Moriori I know, some of the Solomon whānau in Māngere, that I couldn't be held responsible for the acts of some of our tupuna, some of our ancestors”.

I've always said I can't be held responsible for the acts of my ancestors either, but Willie doesn't seem to agree.

Doug Longmire said...

Would have been more appropriate to lodge a claim against the Maori tribe that did the slaughter.

Andy Espersen said...

This is all so weird and unrealistic. If you go to history books, or Google “Chatham Islands”, you are told much the same story as the one Karl reports in his blog here - all backed by academic historians, one must presume. Yet almost two hundred years later our present government blithely sails ahead with its own interpretation of, and conclusions to, what went on those days. Where is the sense in that?

Fact is that real history, what really took place then, was chaotic, unplanned and accidental. Even the much vaunted Treaty of Waitangi is by no means without big questions as to what it really meant to the two parties involved, namely the Crown and a supposedly united group of stone-age Maori tribes. And fact is that now, 200 years later, instead of just accepting what has happened as unalterable history we attempt to somehow turn the clocks back and somehow correct what happened then.

But clocks can never be turned back – period. History is never given a second chance – period.

I am all for paying compensation for a wrong committed long ago – if good reason is found. In this case there is most certainly very good reason, namely genocide and the destruction of a whole population with its 400 years history and its distinct culture, which was advanced and admirable in many ways. This crime was so monumental that it becomes impossible to decide on any amount of adequate compensation – hence the quite sensible objection from some that the amount of money given is not enough. Ideally, of course, the real culprits, namely the two tribes committing this awful crime, should pay the compensation (as Doug Longmire suggests) - but as they do not have the means I agree that Government should step in. Is it fair? Probably not – but it makes sense. Neither is it fair to blame two tribes who were ignorant, stone-age savages 8 generations ago to front up with payment of compensation now.

But perhaps our government could be persuaded to ask the two tribes involved to front up with some sort of apology to the Moriori on behalf of their ancestors! Are they really contrite, however?

CXH said...

Ricardo, are you suggesting that the Crown should have punished the tribes responsibility for the atrocities and enslavement after signing the treaty?

I can barely imagine the compensation these tribes would be demanding if this had occurred.

Karl du Fresne said...

The logical extension of Ricardo's argument seems to be that the Crown could be held liable for any of the innumerable intra-tribal atrocities and dispossessions of land that preceded colonisation and the Treaty. Or am I missing something?

Andy Espersen said...

I did not make myself sufficiently clear : What I think weird is the way government here actually exonerates Maori for what happened. It was all the colonisers' fault!!!

And they invited Willie Jackson to speak with pride about his ancestors - who were the actual criminals!!!!!!!!

My mind boggles.

David McLoughlin said...

The history of what happened in the Chatham Islands is fully set out in the Moriori Deed of Settlement. It is a harrowing account and comprehensively chronicles the invasion by Maori and the murder and enslavement of the Moriori.

It's a tragic history to read in 2021, but here is one part: "Moriori, referred to by their Maori captors as "paraiwhara" or "blackfellas", were also forced to break tchap' (tapu), and were subjected to violence and many offensive indignities. Maori conquests on mainland New Zealand often involved securing rights to land partly through intermarriage but Maori generally prohibited intermarriage with Moriori. Furthermore, Moriori were forbidden by Maori to marry or to have children. By dividing communities, enforcing obedience through violence, and prohibiting
intermarriage, slavery as practiced on the Chatham Islands had a traumatic effect on the people."

Read it all here:

As Ricardo says, and according to the accounts in the Deed of Settlement, a major reason for the Moriori coming into the Treaty process was the failure of the Crown to take any action to prevent the enslavement of the Moriori, even after the Crown annexed the Chathams in 1842 and knew what was happening there.

Moriori lodged a Treary claim in 1988 which according to the Deed was met with claims Moriori were not covered by the Treaty. One sample: " had been claimed leading up to the hearings [in 1994] that Moriori had no standing under the Treaty of Waitangi, as we were not Maori, and that our claims were simply "gold digging". A legal challenge had also been filed in the High Court in Wellington by a Maori tribe to stop the Waitangi Tribunal inquiring into the Moriori claim. This case was
dismissed with the High Court judge stating that it was a matter for the Waitangi Tribunal to determine as to whether Moriori had standing to bring a claim."

As Karl says, the media seem not either to know the Moriori history, or if some of them do, they don't want to remind the public. It is very much a “don’t mention the war” matter, as Karl says. And yet, telling this history would surely help to overcome the false belief of many New Zealanders that New Zealand was occupied by "original Moriori inhabitants until the Maori came here, killed them and expelled the survivors to the Chathams." One still often hears this falsehood. The historical facts to me are far more interesting.

I have never been to the Chatham Islands. I have made a note recently to go there. Friends who have been there for holidays say it is was a remarkable experience.

Ricardo said...

I would encourage interested parties to actually read the Deed of Settlement. It contains an excellent and detailed history of the Maori occupation of the Chathams and does not shy away at all from using evidence to describe the oppression inflicted upon the Moriori. Evidence and scholarship are antidotes to racism, ignorance and knee jerk descriptions of "stone age" people.

In particular, the Deed sets out in excruciating detail how the Crown, which had assumed responsibility for all of New Zealand and the Chathams, repeatedly failed to respond to Moriori entreaties after 1842 to end their enslavement, recognise their culture and return their lands.

This is the reality at play here. Please read, reflect and understand. It is most certainly not some bald assertion that the Crown is responsible for acts prior to 1840.

Trev1 said...

The history of the Chatham Islands immediately after the signing of the Treaty where Maori ceded sovereignty to the Crown and the Crown failed to address in a timely manner the oppression and slavery of the Moriori is indeed a sorry one. But it was the Maori invaders who brought about and perpetuated the suffering of the Moriori from 1835 onwards. The Crown's resources immediately after 1840 were no doubt very thin on the ground. I fail to see why the Maori tribes who were directly responsible for what happened should not contribute to the settlement. Nor do I understand how Mr Jackson as a descendant of the genocidists can on the one hand say he feels no responsibility for his ancestors' actions while at the same time he and members of his party repeatedly smear present day New Zealanders of European stock for the alleged crimes of "colonization". This episode is a reduction to absurdity of the entire claims process and the revisionist history being introduced into New Zealand classrooms. We are being taken for a ride.

Pete said...

Due to hefty settlements by taxpayers over the years , many tribes can be classified as wealthy -non-tax paying elite . These then , are the real people who should be funding a settlement with the Chatham Islands group . And not just a paltry $18m either.....iwi get far larger settlements just for inflationary events . The maoriori do not whinge like maori do ....thats probably because their bloodline is inferior and lack the capacity to civilise themselves .

Karl du Fresne said...

I presume (hope) your last line is facetious.

Pete said...

Yup !

Pete said...

Karl ,

We are constantly bombarded by how one ethnic group are more susceptible to Covit than others , and they therefore need more cash . Then we have the likes of Hone wanting names , addresses and phone numbers , from the Govt , for all those maori NOT vaccinated ! My goodness , what an invasion of privacy that would be ! Its as if the unvaccinated live in caves , have no relatives to help them or to inform them (and offer rides to medical centres ) when in actual fact the majorit are driving thru town each Saturday denouncing their losses of freedom ! I know personally of many maori who live in town who refuse to be vaccinated . WHY then , do these groups want their personal info when all they need to do is attend one of their weekly rallies as they drive/stroll (with placards) thru town . ( I speak of Kaitaia ) My partner is a maori , attending nursing school , does not speak maori , but does attend the odd family function at local maraes . She , like most maori , do not lack intelligence , but unlike a lot of them , she has ambition , patience , manners and works extremely hard both as a student and a volunteer . I have found (as she has ) that whanau are NOT the answer : THEY are the problem .