Once upon a time, a little before the invention of the I-phone and the first season of ‘Love Island’, in a land not so far away, in fact right under our feet, an angelic race of brown-skinned people lived in perfect harmony with nature. Their Arcadian bliss knew no strife or war, nor any kind of want.
Then from over the oceans came a race of demons with hearts as black as their skins were white. They set about purposefully smashing this idyll, stealing the brown folk’s land and introducing them to the evil delights of sexism, racism, homophobia, hard liquor and K.F.C.
Now, two hundred or so years later a group of brave progressive ladies are going to avenge these wrongs. Through the superpowers of the Woke sisterhood (and their friends in the media), they will expose this injustice and restore this lost utopia. Marama, Jan, Chloe and Golriz are…THE AVENGERS.
This with only a smidgen less exaggeration is the Marvel version of NZ history that has recently been propagated by the Left and the media (sorry I repeat myself) in this country. It is a tale of heroes and villains more suited to the inky pages of Spiderman or Thor than a history textbook. Swallowed whole by many, particularly the young, it is fuelling two current radical protest movements.
First, the one that everyone knows about.
The vicissitudes of the patch of land known as Ihum?tao have been well covered on this site, its changing ownership through tribal, private and state entities a case study in the complexities of colonialism. And yet to the protestors schooled in the Marvel version of history, it is simple. As the protestor Ms Harawira-Havili shouted in her racist tirade against a most patient police officer, non-Maori are ‘foreigner(s) occupying our Whenua’ and she added, they should ‘f**k off’ back to their own countries. A more refined but no less moronic view was proffered by the Avenger Golriz Ghahraman when she tweeted about having to ‘rise against colonial land confiscation’, a strange thing to call a private deal between local iwi and Fletcher Building.
Well, as Alexander Pope wrote, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and as I say, there’s nothing worse than an idiot with a university degree.
Except perhaps an idiot with two university degrees (As Avenger Golriz has).
The colonial period of our history is seldom as ‘black and white’ as propagandists such as Ghahraman make out; it’s more a case of fifty shades of grey with less kinky sex (although it did get pretty wild up North at times).
Take the story of Hone Heke.
The great Ngapuhi chief has passed into folk legend as a sort of kiwi William Wallace of ‘Braveheart’ fame, taking a defiant stand against British colonialism.
The reality was less Hollywood. Brought up in part by missionaries, Heke initially was in league with the colonialists, being the first chief to sign the Treaty of Waitangi. Ngapuhi under his leadership prospered greatly from trade with foreign ships. Heke’s later rebellion was motivated as much by the loss of European contact as anti-colonialism. Specifically, he resented the New Zealand capital moving from his local Kororareka (Russell) to Auckland and the resultant loss of trade.
Yep, he was as much the greedy capitalist as the most grasping of British settlers.
But ‘They’ll never take our….economic prosperity!’ doesn’t quite have the Braveheartian ring to it, so the myth prevails, and the Marvel history is maintained.
The second protest is lesser known as it occurred amongst the rarefied confines of the Wellington City Art Gallery. An exhibition of work by the artist Theo Schoon was targeted by a group of activists wearing ‘Theo Schoon is a Racist’ t-shirts. Schoon seems to have been nuttier than a peanut slab, fond of spending his evenings performing Javanese dances in full native dress, but racist seems an odd thing to call a man who spent much of his life immersed in indigenous cultures – he wrote a book on Asian Jade culture and was one of the first to study Maori rock drawings. Not, however, when you are an Avenger. For them, he has committed the heinous sin of ‘cultural appropriation’, by being a non-Maori with the gall to use Maori motifs in his work. I’ll remember this the next time I see a Maori fella belting out ‘Ten Guitars’ – Engelbert Humperdinck must be immediately informed that his song is being ‘appropriated’ and the guitar smashed on the ground as a reminder that it is a western invention and not to be ‘appropriated’.
This Marvel view of history will be getting another airing in October with the sestercentennial of Captain Cook’s arrival. Expect a lot of drivel about how it heralded the doom of the Tangata Whenuean paradise. Already his achievements are being diminished by Avengers claiming early Polynesian navigators to New Zealand were his match, a claim one would think would be easily settled by asking the simple questions, ‘Who travelled farther? And who did it three times?
But that would take thinking, and to do that they’d have to pause the Marvel movie forever showing in their heads.