Scoop Reader Opinion: Race Relations
By Iain Parker
I would like to attack this thing from a different angle. I would like Maori and Pakeha to have a think about what has been the same in our cultures' from day one, not what has been different; we all come from the animal kingdom where the underlying instinct is look after yourself and your offspring first. This animal instinct I believe has evolved in modern times to greed and power, accumulate as much for yourself as you can to ensure that at-least you and your offspring will be Ok if times get hard, bugger everyone else.
There has also evolved a long running battle between those that believe in civilization and the rule of law, to promote the ideals of the collective common good, working together to create long-term peaceful stability that offers equal opportunity to wealth and appropriate reward for level of contribution to every child born into that society after those that went before them.
I believe those that believe in the collective common good in both our cultures have always far out-numbered the greedy, but in both our cultures it has always been the smaller greedy elements that have ended up having the most detrimental impact on the entire society.
When Maori had wiped out the abundant food source that was the Moa, times got hard; triggering fortification and tribal warfare leading to human flesh becoming the main source of protein as it had in most every other society in the world where flesh eaters migrated to countries where meat was in short supply.
In 1769 when Cook announced NZ to the wider world England was not interested in colonizing the place but greedy private enterprise businessmen came sniffing for capital gain opportunities. When they got here they found willing and able trading partners who soon began to use the new modern technologies, especially muskets, to continue there own imperialist ambitions and tribal factional fighting.
This evolved into a forty year civil war among Maori that went beyond greed and power as famous Maori leaders Hongi Hika, Te Rauparaha, Te Wherowhero etc took their iwi's on massive raids that could be described as nothing else but sheer blood-lust with slavery, cannibalism and shrunken head trading being a normal part of tribal life. With the unruly elements of Maori and Pakeha in complete and utter lawless anarchy and the French, who had a huge reputation for violence beyond the norm, also announcing interest in colonizing NZ.
It was at this time that sufficient numbers from both sides signed an agreement in 1840 to introduce the rule of law to promote the ideals of collective common good and create peaceful long-term stability. This improved things immensely but as always small greedy elements from both sides tried to seek opportunist capital gain with great detrimental impact to the whole society.
Today, a small number of greedy bad elements not only in the treaty industry but throughout the spectrum wanting all the trimmings of a peaceful stable society but not willing to take only fair gain or pay their dues, are taking that much out of the system in a direct transfer of wealth to only a few, that the low earning majority are struggling to make ends meet and if the good people of this country give up hope, resorting to a free for all of preservation by corruption, as is already evident, we will be in grave danger of joining the growing list of societies that have failed due to a greedy few. Lets stop generalizing and identify our collective targets.
WHERE TO START
Unfortunately if you really want to be able to have any claim of understanding race relations in this country you need to stop seeking the easy answers and avoid self interest groups who will present you fragments of history that best suit there cause.
Unfortunately the only way to claim such knowledge is to read enough of New Zealand history by as many different authors as you can about events from the the first point of continuous contact in 1769 to the present day, this is the only way to remove individual interpretations and allow you to make your own fully informed opinion.
I would like to suggest as a beginning a small number of books from the hundreds of sources that I have read that I believe would give the uninitiated the minimum knowledge to prevent them from being hood-winked by parties of either bias and hopefully compel a few more people to develop a passion to become more widely read to prevent this country being irreversibly damaged.
I suggest these first three books because they are to the point interesting reading, not knee deep in endless boring babble, they are in very understandable and detailed order written by authors most definitely recognized amongst NZ's most respected in there field:
All are available free from your local library,
The musket wars - author RD Crosby - published 1999 - The best recognized account of the period between the first point of continuous contact in 1769 through to 1845, five years after the signing of the treaty in 1840. A period which saw Maori fight a civil war using modern weapons brought off traders, that would at its end see killed approx 40-60,000 or approx 25% of the population, many of whom were consumed in cannibal feasting.
The illustrated history of the treaty of Waitangi-author Claudia Orange - published 2004 - A detailed account of the legislative abuses that occurred, where land was undeniably wrong-fully taken or removed from Maori control.
New Zealand's constitution in crisis - author Geoffrey Palmer - published 1998 - A detailed account of how Geoffrey Palmer and the Labour party in 1985 used the same easily abused processes of parliament, that allowed land to be legislated away from Maori, to bring the Treaty of Waitangi back into modern law. He also spells out clearly why the undemocratic constitutional arrangements that allowed the above to happen need to be changed so it can never happen again to anyone. An invaluable insight into to processes of our parliament that all Kiwi's need to know.
Hopefully if you complete the above you will begin to understand that in the terms of world written history New Zealand could be said to be only a week old and hopefully you might find as I did it is not that hard to learn all of it for yourself. Then I would suggest the next three, of hopefully many books you might read, are a bit larger, wider encompassing but no less interesting and babble free than the first three:
The penguin history of New Zealand - author Michael King - published 2004
Ka whawhai tonu matou / Struggle without end revised edition - author Ranganui Walker-published 2004
The treaty and its times - author Paul Moon - published 2004
Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster, but please ride it out It is the only way to reduce the impact of the unresearched do-gooders, Politicians, Pakeha deniers, Maori radicals and fraudsters using legal aid like free lotto tickets at the encouragement of some very well to do lawyers.
So please don't do as many have, read one book by one author and take it as gospel and then set about filling the world with half truths that will only continue to bog down the genuine grievance claims and see the self interest groups with motives of anything from money to hate, risk returning this country to the state of complete lawless anarchy that it was prior to a majority of its inhabitants agreeing to introduce rule of law to promote the ideals of collective common good, with the signing of a treaty in 1840.
I know most people are flat out just trying to make ends meet, but if we don't make the time to learn the whole truth and leave this thing in the hands of manipulative propagandists in a hope that it will work out, it will in-fact be to to late before you know it.
There is both Maori and Pakeha shame out there for not to dissimilar reasons, it can only be a benefit to society for all to learn it. This country could be something special in the world or it could so easily join the many societies around the world that are failing like a house of cards because of a greedy few abusing the good nature of the many.
We are doing what we fiscally can to address the past wrongs of a few Pakeha ancestors, but we must be careful not to kill the horse that we are all riding. If we do not also tell young Maori of the extent of the violence in their culture, not thousands of years ago, but immediately preceding the signing of the treaty in 1840, they will continue to believe they have the moral high ground and be easily led by Maori radicals pushing for segregation.
Sir Doug Graham wrote,
"The settlement of historical claims is not a pay off for the past, even were that possible, but to take steps necessary to remove prejudice and prevent similar prejudice from arising, for the only practical settlement between peoples is one that achieves reconciliation in fact. "
A fourth generation Pakeha with no other place to call home.