“If you have any questions about Tuhoe, go and read your history.”

By Peter Cresswell of Not PC

As a former lawyer for Ngai Tahu, Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson is obviously able to play both sides of the fence when it comes to both pulling down and distributing taxpayer dollars by the million.

imageHailed as “momentous” by a Prime Minister more reliant than ever on the votes delivered by the Maori Party, the multi-million dollar Deed of Settlement to be  signed today—the Tuhoe deal—will cost today’s taxpayers $170 million and a National Park for things they never did. Finlayson says “If you have any questions about  Tuhoe, go and read your history.” On which we agree.

Part Two of the Waitangi Tribunal’s report into the history of government actions against Tuhoe described

sweeping confiscations, … and how … land was removed by fraudulent methods. And it describes unjust war too, highlighting a series of engagements from the end of 1865 to May 1866.

So much so apparently unjust.

But as one prominent commentator pointed out at the time, what the Waitangi Tribunal’s sanitisers historians “neglect to do is set those dreadful deeds in the context of the equally dreadful deeds that preceded them.”  That commentator is Chris Trotter.

Those reading the full context of Tuhoe’s history, and New Zealand’s, will realise that in the mid-1860s the country was poised delicately between two possible futures—one offering civilisation, and the other a return to the tribal savagery the Treaty had promised to end.  As Trotter says, “Tuhoe picked the wrong side in the war to decide what sort of country New Zealand would become.”

And how!

To tell that history, let’s start with a story.

Imagine, if you will, that a savage murderer has been moving up the country, and he’s heading your way.  He seeks refuge in your large, rambling property (which you share with extended family).  Instead of either handing him over or doing him in (in both of which you would be justified), you and your whanau choose instead to join him in his savagery and plunder, heading out on expeditions of rapine and looting before coming home to hunker down in the least accessible parts of your refuge to fend off John Law, who naturally wants to put a stop to your lawlessness and brutality.

The law decides the safest way to stop you and your partner in crime is to starve you out, a strategy that meets with success—but whose perfectly justifiable results a century-and-a-half later are used to justify further pillage, this time of taxpayers apparently ignorant of the reasons for the original dispossession.

_TeKootiThis is the short history of what happened when Tuhoe gave refuge to stone killer Te Kooti before joining in enthusiastically in his genocidal killing sprees—for which you and I are being punished now for the punishment that was meted out to the killers then.

It is akin to you and I having our pockets picked to pay compensation to the grandchildren of Ted Bundy or Fred West for police having damaging the  Bundy/West properties while removing all the bodies stored under the floor.

Quite apart from the issue of the national parks, does this seem in any way either fair or justified?

Did Tuhoe’s behaviour not constitute some sort of reason for punishment?

While you consider those questions, just read in some more detail about what actually happened.

The year was 1869, and the Kooti One had gone on the run after murdering around sixty people (both Maori and non-Maori) in Poverty Bay, eventually finding support for his campaign of continuing  murder under the shelter of a supportive Tuhoe. For three years from their base in the Ureweras, with the full support, backing and connivance of Tuhoe leaders, he and his Tuhoe allies distributed rapine, murder and pillage to all around them—regularly crossing the Kaingaroa plains, the Ureweras and surrounding districts to pillage, burn and kill.  Just one example of his blood lust was the slaughter of 64 defenceless women and children in the Ngati Kahungunu pa at Mohaka, murdered in cold blood as a “lesson” to their fathers and husbands.

Any decent government is going to put a stop to this, which is precisely what the colonial government did.

To drive him out of his lair, says the Oxford History of New Zealand, “Government forces applied a scorched earth policy so that the Tuhoe tribe could not shelter Te Kooti and the dwindling remnants of his band,” following which he was driven out and 448,000 acres of Tuhoe land was confiscated as punishment, 230,600 acres of which was later returned.  (Ironically, as reward for his murders, Te Kooti himself was eventually given several acres of land in Ohiwa, BoP, in 1891! So much for justice.)

_TameItiSo the supposed  historic ‘injustice’ for which today’s settlement is being signed, the confiscations of Tuhoe’s land for their decision to plump for savagery over civilisation, was the product of a tribe unwilling to live under the rule of law who knowingly harboured a mass-murderer, and who then joined him on a campaign of murder.

“Violent dispossession”?  It looks to me like the initiation of violence went largely one way.

In some circles, mere partial confiscation would be seen as being let off easily.

If violent dispossession is to be despised, and it is, then surely the violent dispossession of people’s lives by Tuhoe and Te Kooti must be worth at least addressing, no?

Because to talk about Tuhoe’s dispossession without any reference at all to the reasons for that dispossession is just inexcusable,  particularly when such context-dropping is used to justify scores of millions  of taxpayers dollars heading towards the wallets of the descendants of those who helped harbour the thug Te Kooti all those years ago.

In today’s age of hand-wringing  and revisionist history however, nothing (least of all the facts of history) is  a barrier to today’s tribal ‘leaders’ receiving  large amounts of taxpayer largesse as a reward for living in the past — a past which is largely a fiction of their own making.

So (to come back to where we first started), it seems the history the Minister wishes us to read is not the history he thinks it is.  Or at least not all the history. But then, lawyers-for-pay don’t really do history so much as they do special pleading– but then, when it comes to “doing history,” neither do the more mainstream media, the Government, or the Waitangi Tribunal.

Not to mention here the farce of signing a Waitangi settlement with a tribe who never signed the Waitangi Yreaty, for an injustice that was anything but.

The only injustice perpetrated here is that being dealt to the taxpayers of New Zealand — who once again will be forced to pay large amounts of money to tribalists for things we didn’t do — and to the tamariki of Tuhoe, who are being taught once again that tribalism and a focus on the imaginary grievances of the past will have a bigger payoff for them today than will addressing and meeting the real challenges of the future, and taking up the genuine opportunities of the present.

Which would really be a start.
* Figures and quotes are taken from the Oxford History of New Zealand, (pgs. 186, 187);  Penguin History of New Zealand, (pg. 219); ‘Te Kooti,’ NZ.History.Net; ‘Te Kooti,’ An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, 1966.

14 thoughts on ““If you have any questions about Tuhoe, go and read your history.”

  1. I think you will find that the 448000 acres confiscated included all of the rebel tribes in the Bay of Plenty including Whaktahoea and Ngati Awa. The Sims Report in 1927 says that the final amount confiscated from Tuhoe was 15,000 acres, though I have seen other estimations of close to 50,000 acres. Even at the higher figure it was only a few percent of their total land area. It seems to me that they got off very lightly at the time.

  2. Not to overlook the comment by Tuhoe that they never signed the treaty because they were never given the opportunity to do so!!!
    These are adults in positions of authority about to receive a huge hand-out and implied authority to set up a separatist state telling these ‘porkies’.

    What really gets me is that ‘compensation’ isn’t being used to better ‘their people’ and ‘their people’ don’t seem to realise this – hopefully I’m wrong about this?

    Why is it taxpayers who are funding the infrastructure to enable Tuhoe to set up their own state and not compensation being used for this?

  3. Graeme..
    These two Waitangi Tribunal Reports are well worth a read to get the TeKooti matter into perspective Discovered from them that my wife’s great great grandfather, a Rongawhakaata chief was held hostage and executed by Te Kooti.

    For others interested, please don’t be put off the read because it is authored by the W.Tribunal.



  4. Tamati – thanks for your interesting links – as always in fact!

    To be honest, I need someone more knowledgeable than me to assess the documents as I don’t know enough of NZs history to know if anything included is revisionist nor do I feel knowledgeable enough to challenge or otherwise the conclusions that the TOW Tribunal has made.
    Are you happy and able to do this? Anyone else? JA?

    It must hv been a shock to read about your great, great, father-in-laws murder by Te Kooti. What’s the implication of this? I know you can’t seek compensation from Tuhoe for him being put to death if it happened when Te Kooti was seeking sanctuary with Tuhoe but does it mean there’s another avenue for this if you so wish?
    (Just trying to understand the TOW Tribunal process Tamati and it’s cool if you’d rather not reply on this latter comment friend)

    I was just thinking that if National did hold a snap election now because of the Peter Dunne fiasco and are re-elected with a majority by themselves, as political commentators are saying would occur, what the implications of that would be as there’d be no-one to ‘gatekeep’ them re the constitution nor the scope of the TOW Tribunals long arm and deep pockets with no thought to the other 86% of the population, actually a bigger % if you consider the minority of Maori blood some on the Maori electoral have……. and that there would be less on the Maori roll if it weren’t for the fact that a political ‘deal’ was made whereby those that identified as non-Maori kiwis yet had some Maori ancestry were moved onto the Maori roll raising it from 6% of those who elected to be on the Maori roll to around 16% when others from the non-Maori were moved onto the Maori roll (and DIDN’T choose that themselves) to bring the % Maori up to around 16%.

  5. PS: Yep, I realise my maths are incorrect as 16% + 86% = 102% but I’m unsure whether it’s 14 or 16% of NZ’s population are said to be Maori . . . hence the confusion lol

  6. Feck; I have my foot well and truly in my mouth this morning as I should have said it was the census (1995 I think) that this fiddling of population %’s happened and nothing to do with the electoral roll at all! Sorry dudes.

    I guess I was thinking of the recent news about the fact that the current Maori electoral roll was decreasing not increasing despite the TV adverts we’re told are running (no TV here, which is no loss in the main)to encourage part-Maori onto the Maori electoral roll.

    Hope this makes sense, better go claim my foot now as I need it and my mouth doesn’t!

  7. Thanks Tamati I have read most of the first report on Te Kooti. Quite close to my understanding however the Tribunals conclusion that the Matawhero attack could not be justified by provocation was interesting given that there was a payout for redress of the stigmatisation of Te Kooti’s character.
    Will read the rest later.

  8. Graeme
    Have just had a quick look at this:
    None of these MPs seem to have been as astute as you in your observation but I am thinking that they probably never the TWT report.

    Not shocked..my wife was only casually interested when I told her, but I guess her great great grandmother would have been shocked. This is the problem when trying to redress wrongs from generations ago. In the wife’s case, through intermarriage, she now has forebears who were not only murdered by Te Kooti, but murdered as supporters of Te Kooti at Ngatapa by her own Ngati Porou forebears. Te Kooti murdered his own father in law (and uncle)so how does that work out for his descendants.
    These are the only TWT reports that I have read, and apart from what Graeme has noted, I found them to be pretty ballanced.
    Me books have a lot of old NZ history books that can be down loaded for free. http://mebooks.co.nz/
    The list below are ones that I have downloaded and am making my way through… again well worth a read and as the majority of them were written in the 19th century can hardly be called “revisionist”.
    For all those who have read “Twisting the Treaty” and have a real interest in NZ history, please read Auretaunga The Groans of the Maori.
    Aureretanga: Groans of the Maoris
    A Sketch of the New Zealand War
    Bush Fighting
    England and the Maori Wars
    Extracts from a Diary during Heke’s War in the North…
    From Tasman To Marsden:
    Hauhauism: An Episode in the Maori Wars
    History of New Zealand Wars, Volume I,2,3
    Incidents of The Maori War
    Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century
    One of England’s Little Wars
    Reminiscences of The War in New Zealand
    Soldiering in New Zealand
    The Maori Situation
    The New Zealand Native Rebellion
    The New Zealand Wars
    The Story of Gate Pa
    The Taranaki Question
    The War in New Zealand
    With the Lost Legion in New Zealand

  9. Graeme
    Further to the above..
    Quite apparent that the late Parekura Horomia of Ngati Porou hadn’t read the W.Tribunal report when he says “The summary executions at Ngātapa by the Crown forces in January 1869 were the worst, in my mind. That people were lined up against the cliffs. That they were torn apart by some overzealous young punk who had come from the empire is something that we need to remember”.

  10. Graeme
    It appears that his stigmatisation relates to the Crown’s actions towards him following his pardon in 1883. (http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2012/0054/latest/DLM4321629.html)
    The W.Tribunal were critical of the Crown for not investigating or prosecuting those responsible for the prisoner executions at Ngatapa but make no such criticism of the Crown for not prosecuting those responsible for the 50-70 murders at Matawhero, that it says could not be justified.

  11. Yep, that’s the conundrum in this whole messy, divisive situation. Is a Maori someone with Maori characteristics, someone with Maori ancestry no matter the %, or someone who ‘feels’ and is accepted as a Maori (UN definition)?

    Will we ever be NZers?

    Will we ever be proud of our country again after the angst and division?

  12. Hi Tamati Thanks for all your thorough research and thoughtful posts.
    I finished the Tribunal report on Rongawhakaata and Te Kooti and then had a quick browse through the third reading of the settlement bill.
    Interesting- Maybe I missed it but I did not see a single reference to Matawhero or any of the other murders committed by Te Kooti and his followers.
    Plenty of references to the “executions” at Ngatapa but again I did not see any mention of Ngati Porou being responsible, only references to them having been carried out by “Crown” troops. I agree the quote from the late Parekura would certainly indicate that he never read the report.

    A while ago I read the Hansard report of the first reading of the Mokomoko Restoration of Character Reputation and Mana Bill, which is about to be reported back from select committee. The comments made on that also show a complete lack of any real research by any of the speakers. In my view Politicians certainly don’t seem to be concerned about the truth getting in the way of their promulgations!
    I wrote to one of the speakers on the Mokomoko bill and he couldn’t provide anything to back up his assertions in the house, but nevertheless stands by his comments.
    We should be able to expect better from our representatives.

  13. Graeme
    This incredible history illustrates the absurdiity in trying to equate 21st century NZ mind set with the world view of those living in the mid 19th century and expecting some correlation between the two. Compare the brutal murders of 110-120 British subjects at Matawhero and Mohaka in the 1860’s and recieving a Government pardon for your involvement in them, executing 80-120 prisoners at Ngatapa without investigation or prosecution of those responsible, with the furore over the 2007 Police action at Ruatoki…so why do some insist on setting 21st century values on 19th century behaviour?

    Concerning Parekura’s comment, he was deliberately blaming the overzealous young punk from the Empire to divert the cold facts away from his kinsmen. In fairness to Pare, when his Labour govt rejected the UN Declation on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples he called it “toothless” (the Declaration) and said it “appears to require recognition of rights to lands now lawfully owned by other citizens, both indigenous and non-indigenous. This ignores contemporary reality and would be impossible to implement”.

    No surprises here, but guess who Wikipedia says drafted the UN Declaration?

    Re Mokomoko, agree fully on your view of these politicians. Read in the last year or two of an extraordinary statement that Volkner was killed because he was a paedophile. The person alleging this is named as a claimant on at least two unrelated W.Tribunal claims which makes you wonder about the veracity of them given his total ignorance on Volkner. Volkner being a kiddy fiddler is probably now out there in urban folk lore so will this be passed on to the next generation of dumbed down school children as fact, along with the gungho punk from the empire?

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