Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Maps and Mapping for amateurs

I always had former ACT MP Muriel Newman marked out as a nasty crank who liked to patronise the poor (her book How to live on an oily rag etc), but now she has presented the world with clear evidence of her racism.

In this case it is a particular strand of racism, which has many adherents around her Northland base, which maintains that Maori have never amounted to anything and never will, and any past achievements must be ascribed to someone else, probably a white person.

I tend to ignore her rants, but the Tino Rangatiratanga mailing list has just got riled up about Newman’s January 21 article, posted on her Centre for Political Debate site. And it’s a doozy. Or should I say dozy.

Newman cites an Economist article about what is purported to be a map of the world prepared by a Chinese admiral named Zheng He in 1418, which shows New Zealand and Australia. The map is being championed by former Royal Navy submariner Gavin Menzies, writer of 1421: The Year China Discovered the World, a 2003 book which claims Zheng circumnavigated the world, discovering all there was to discover.

According to Newman, Martin and his team of eager volunteers believe Chinese colonies existed in New Zealand "for hundreds of years before the arrival of Maori". Since the archaeological consensus is Maori had arrived and established themselves in the century of so before 1421, There seems to be a clash of timelines.

Newman: "While our government appears to hold tightly onto the view that Maori are tangata whenua (with even the stories of the early Moriori occupation that our generation was taught in school having almost disappeared), local and international research is now painting a different picture of the early history of New Zealand.

"Claims have been made that New Zealand enjoyed waves of exploration from as early as 600BC by Phoenician, Indian, Greek and Arab voyagers. In fact, claims of these visits help to explain the existence in the South Island of the fossilised remains of rats that have been carbon dated at 160 BC - more than 1,000 years before Maori!”


Note the explanation mark! - a clear indicator of crankiness! Next Newman will be putting IMPORTANT words in CAPITALS!

Where to begin? It is fascinating Newman will put so much effort into reading fanciful works of history and anthropology, yet will ignore the work of professional historians whose reputations and income depend on establishing some factual basis for their conclusions. It’s a bit like Creationism. Evolution is a theory. Here is another theory. Since they both are theories, they have equal weight, and you can choose the one you prefer.

The reason the stories of early Moriori occupation you were taught at school have almost disappeared Muriel, is they were wrong. Bunkum. Inventions.

The Moriori myth grew out of a 19th century European belief that race determined culture. It was also a way the European colonists justified the damage they were causing Maori. As soon as scholars started examining facts and not trying to construct racial hierarchies, the myth was exposed.

As Michael King laid out so well in 1989 in Moriori: A people rediscovered, the Moriori inhabitants of Chatham Islands came from the same Polynesian stock as Maori, but moved on from Aotearoa to occupy those remote islands.

So far, there has been no archaeological evidence of settlement before the 12th or 13th century, which conforms to whakapapa records. The 160BC rat (as if carbon dating was that accurate) point to visits, not settlement.

Newman: "There are further claims that before Maori arrived in New Zealand settlements had already been established, by the Waitaha, the peace-loving fair skinned ancestors of the Moriori, by Chinese miners, and by the Celts."

There it is, the white skin!!! Or should that be WHITE?

This whole Waitaha thing strains credibility. Barry Brailsford, another amateur historian, had written a series of lavishly-produced books which fail to stand up to scrutiny. My take on Waitaha, shorn of the New Age hokum, is that it is a normal expression of dissent within Ngai Tahu at the dominance of the Ngai Tahu corporate machine. A common expression of Maori dissent is to ignore that element of one's whakapapa and play up some alternate strand, which can give one an alternate history. A good example is the dispute between Rangitane and Kahungunu around the Manawatu Gorge area. The Maori Land Court concluded both parties had very similar whakapapa, they just chose to identify in different ways.

Gavin Menzies has been eviscerated elsewhere. My concern is Newman.

Despite her commitment to less government, Newman is happy to receive her MP’s pension, which of course gives her the income to pursue this phony think tank business through her website.

Giving her site the stamp of credibility is National's Wayne Mapp, who this week posted his own contribution, a rant on Political Correctness.

Does this mean Mapp is endorsing Newman's racist fantasies? I think we should be told.

3 Comments:

Blogger colinm said...

Why use the racist tag? I have read a few internet sites which put forward alternative views of our history of early visitation and settlement. I find it's actually interesting to think that there may be earlier settlers here that we have never known anything about, does that make me a racist too? These people do have some evidence to support their argument, however tenuous it may be, has this evidence been debunked and made as easily findable on the net as the original assumptions? If it is out there I haven't found it yet (do I have to look harder?). Anyway My point is this, so what if there were earlier visitors or even settlers. The fact is that Maori were here when this country was discovered in more modern times, they were the only people here and whether there were any others before changes nothing as the Maori were the only ones left to meet the explorers. It was their land.

9:06 PM  
Blogger t selwyn said...

Newman's site is totally racist. It is Stormfront Whangarei in all but name.

6:54 PM  
Blogger DreamWeaver said...

the "racist" tag is an interesting point. if you sit down and actually study some of the ancient texts and subsequent questions raised and answers sought, is it so hard to believe that someone actually lived here before the Maori? Is it too big a stretch of the imagination to surmise that the Maori have suffered Karma of their own doing, "they slaughtered and most probably ate the presumed original NZ inhabitants" then in "what goes around comes around" fashion, the pakeha arrived and practically did the same, stopping short of cannibalism? No maori has ever denied they ate the mori ori? for so long now the maori have been allowed to sit back and be 'victims' of circumstance. i think it's time they sat up and accounted for the wrong they did centuries ago. Imagine if in a few years, WHEN the celt settlement is proven beyond a doubt, the government can no longer cover it up and the maori lose all claim to what they claim they had first. What then? are they going to be so ready to give back what they seemed so ready to take? it's time someone was accountable.

4:25 PM  

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