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Academic accused of falsifying history

A row is brewing over what one Maori leader has described as “inflammatory comments” made by an academic, Kuni Jenkins. Dr Jenkins wrote an opinion piece for the New Zealand Herald on Waitangi Day in which she attempted to describe Ngapuhi history in 1814.

Ngapuhi spokesman David Rankin has lashed out against Jenkins, claiming that she is distorting Ngapuhi history, and that she is factually wrong. “This article has caused huge offence, and I have had my phone ringing all day with people complaining about how Ngapuhi have been portrayed by this outsider.”

Mr Rankin has a long list of factual errors in Jenkins’ article which he claims could easily have been avoided, some of which paint Ngapuhi as appearing ignorant.

“She says that in 1814, Ngapuhi didn’t believe that an animal such as a horse existed, yet my ancestor, Ruatara, had already told our people of seeing horses in Australia, and so we knew of their existence.”

“Jenkins also speculates about what Ruatara said in December 1814 without any evidence. If she had bothered to ask the whanau and do her research properly, we could have told her.”

“She also says that a quasi-legal arrangement existed between Maori and European in 1814. This is not true and I challenge her to present any evidence”, says Mr Rankin.

Mr Rankin intends to take this matter further with Dr Jenkins’ employer and the Human Rights Commission if necessary. “we can’t afford to have people make claims on our behalf without the evidence,” he says, “because you end up with ignorance in print, which is exactly what Dr Jenkins had done.”


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