Not happy RNZ, it seems, perhaps wilting under the withering glare of citizen journalists ‘intimidating’ their precious investigators, decided to give someone else a kicking on Valentine’s Day, putting the boot into a group of amateur archaeologists for the unforgivable sin of thinking differently, outside the orthodoxy, but who intended no real harm to anyone.
The enthusiastic group believe, perhaps plausibly, that this country was roamed by a people earlier than Maori and whose remains they hope to find, indeed claiming they may have already landed a specimen of thighbone.
So what? If that’s their kick; who are RNZ to belittle and besmirch them in an ‘in-depth’ article? Is that what taxpayer dollars should be paying for?
Keeping their diggings from public view, although reporting their progress and publishing research publicly through their site “tangatawhenua16.wixsite.com” (Home page removed since RNZ’s story)
The group are, at times, openly controversial which is disappointing to someone like me who enjoys objective history and anthropology. Some posts are needlessly smarty-pantsy:
“We are going to be unpopular in the future for these comments, but we want to bring the reproach off Maori for their hypocrisy. The only way to do that is confront it head-on.”
RNZ, predictably, ran to an ivory-tower snoot to deride the group:
“Otago University associate professor of bioarchaeology Dr Siân Halcrow worries about the number of people who might come across the blog and believe the information being put out on it. “It does really highlight what some New Zealanders think, in terms of pre-Maori conspiracy theories, with really racist undertones. It’s not grounded in fact, so people should be aware.”
Another pointy-head raised the tired old straw-man:
“University of Waikato teaching fellow Dr M Dentith, who studies conspiracy theory, fake news, and secrecy, agrees.”Quite a lot of these theories are used to make some variation of the claim ‘Well, if white people were here first, then the Treaty is null and void’, or ‘We did to Maori only what they did to our distant ancestors.”
Poppy-cock, Professor. New knowledge doesn’t deprive Maori of any land rights at all; feudal, tribal societies lived by the laws of ‘might is right’, ‘to the victor the spoils’, and ‘if you cannot defend it, you don’t own it’, thus were their boundaries enforced, or destroyed, over time. When property rights manifested under laws the land titles generally acquiesced to the current tenant, a situation sometimes reluctantly acceded to in the Waitangi tribunal where in Wellington’s case the very late-arriving marauders of Ngati Toa won title to much territory under the concept of ‘conquest’. It may be tough, but that’s the way it is. Maori land rights will never, and should never, ever be extinguished by new knowledge of past inhabitants.
Should the Picts, of whom we have certain knowledge, rise up again and demand the North Eastern part of the British Isles be handed back, those lands taken from them by the raiding, murdering, sheep-stealing Scots, I doubt their claim would get very far in any international court of law. At all.
Claiming a knowledge monopoly on this beautiful group of islands’ past inhabitants, our academic snoot from Otago laughably states:
“”The evidence for pre-Maori inhabitants, of any origin, simply isn’t there. If it was, the professional community would have identified it”
Oh, my Giddy Aunt; the height, the peak, the nadir of academic arrogance, so typical of Otago. Thank the Lord Dr Halcrow wasn’t around in the 1970’s when ‘untrained’, ‘uneducated’, ‘mere housewife’ Joan Wiffen was whittling away in the gullies and escarpments of Hawkes Bay, the stupid, crazy, woman convinced there might be dinosaur fossils found there. How the clever Dr Halcrow’s of the 21st century might have derided her, too, writing her off, and in the process denied this country a piece of ground-breaking international geological history.
Pre-Maori Polynesian settlement of New Zealand should not be controversial, nor in serious dispute. Eminent ethnologist Elsdon Best, no slouch, and certainly no enemy of the good people of Maoridom, was completely convinced, with very sound reasoning, of the same, and though his thinking has been abandoned by latter-day revisionists they simply cannot expunge “Te Heke o Maruiwi’(The End of the Maruiwi [people]) from Maori lore and tribal histories where the circumstances, the sites, the pa’s, the battles, the names of the combatants, live on, sheltered from smarty-pants academics who would prefer to pretend they never existed.
If the group so abhorrent to RNZ and our fearless academics are guilty of anything; then so are their detractors guilty of the same: stoically convinced of pre-conceived outcomes.
All could do well to take a leaf, or hundreds (he wrote a helluva lot), from Elsdon Best, a man who believed that in following truths a narrative could be assembled, whereas in the 21st century we seem to assemble first a narrative, then pursue such ‘truth’ as to support it.
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