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Maori outrage over historian's war claims

Maori outrage over historian's war claims

Pakeha historian Vincent O'Malley has come under fire from a Northland hapu over comments he made about Hone Heke and the Northern Wars in 1845.

The hapu - Te Matarahurahu - is Hone Heke's hapu, and its present leader, David Rankin, says the entire community is furious over O'Malley's claims.

"Firstly, he got basic facts wrong," says Rankin. "For example, he says that Heke chopped down the flagpole in Russell several times. In fact, Heke only chopped it down once. It was others who felled it earlier."

"Then, he says Heke was fighting over sovereignty and the Treaty. This is a making up history. Heke fought because of tribal divisions, and his desire to assert his mana over his relations."

"And to add insult to injury, O'Malley claims that current poverty in Northland among Maori stems from the 1845 war. That is just patronising colonial arrogance, and I can't help but feel that there is some racism in that view."

Since Mr O'Malley's article about the wars was released yesterday, Mr Rankin says he has been receiving calls from Ngapuhi all over the country who are concerned about how their history has been misrepresented by O'Malley.

"His mistakes and his statements are hugely culturally offensive to us," says Mr Rankin. "We have written a long list of factual errors and misrepresentations that O'Malley he has made. If he had done his research properly and spoken with the hapu like other historians have, he could avoided this embarrassment. But it's too late now, and we're out for utu."


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