Maori history in school far from reality

Contra Celsum has an excellent post on Maori history, cannibalism and the like that I would encourage you to read. It should be the start of a series which may be interesting to follow.

Through school, the Maori culture is portrayed as being in harmony with nature. You are taught about (nice) Maori customs, the Maori pantheistic religion (which is state-funded religious teaching by the way), various Maori legends, Kupe and his voyage to New Zealand, Maori songs and language, and happy-clappy stuff like that. You are then taught about how the horrible Europeans came with muskets, stole the land, started the musket wars, and how Maori were oppressed. You generally only hear good things about Maori and bad things about the Europeans (as I recall from school, some years ago now).

But this is extremely biased, and that should be obvious to anyone. Every culture has good things and bad things in their history, if any culture is portrayed as wholly good or wholly bad you should know immediately that something is being hidden.

What you won’t learn in school is that the Maori burnt down more forest area than the Europeans ever did – the tussock grasslands of the South Island were forest before the Maori came along. You won’t learn how many species the Maori drove to extinction. You won’t learn about the widespread cannibalism among Maori.

You certainly won’t hear about how many Maori embraced Christianity as freeing them from their former culture of death. You certainly won’t hear how Maori tribes were commonly at war with one another (I understand the Maori had no concept of NZ as one country, it was ruled by many warring chiefs), and you won’t hear how despite the initial musket wars NZ has had internal peace since the coming of the British. But in order to have a balanced view of history you need to hear both sides.

If anyone speaks up and tries to tell the other side of NZ history, such as Maori cannibalism, they are hounded as being racist. This is a crazy situation, where it is not PC to tell the truth about history.

I’ll just finish with some insightful words from The Lads

If you are starving on an air-plane
‘cos you’re in economy
And if you have crashed down in the ocean
and you’re allergic to sea food
By eating me you could stay strong
And I could learn to hop along
Apart from this
Cannibalism’s wrong

Cannibalism’s wrong
Even if they deserve it, you can’t eat them ‘cos it’s wrong

13 Responses to “Maori history in school far from reality”

  1. Wahine Says:

    Maori history in school far from reality
    November 22, 2008 — Mr Dennis

    Through school, the Maori culture is portrayed as being in harmony with nature.

    **Well Im not sure what school you went to this isnt my **experience!
    You are taught about (nice) Maori customs, the Maori pantheistic religion (which is state-funded religious teaching by the way), various Maori legends, Kupe and his voyage to New Zealand, Maori songs and language, and happy-clappy stuff like that.

    **You loser in deep denial and really sad – Nice Maori **Customs well I really did miss all of that! I was taught **that Maori were cannabals – uneducated , heathens, so **dont know what you are talking about –

    You are then taught about how the horrible Europeans came with muskets, stole the land, started the musket wars, and how Maori were oppressed. You generally only hear good things about Maori and bad things about the Europeans (as I recall from school, some years ago now).
    **I am not aware that the white man was portrayed as the **devil incarnate so this doesnt ring true you see it was **Maori who were portrayed as the devil incarnate!

    Yes another lie Maori burnt down the forest what years were they. After pakeha was here encouraging devissions and antaganism anomgst the members of the tribe –
    Pakeha is so transparent because all we need to do is look at where colonisation has been and how it has been the very tool which drives Indigenous people into to self distruction and therefor prey to the oppressors-

    What you won’t learn in school is that the Maori burnt down more forest area than the Europeans ever did – the tussock grasslands of the South Island were forest before the Maori came along. You won’t learn how many species the Maori drove to extinction. You won’t learn about the widespread cannibalism among Maori.

    You certainly won’t hear about how many Maori embraced Christianity as freeing them from their former culture of death. You certainly won’t hear how Maori tribes were commonly at war with one another (I understand the Maori had no concept of NZ as one country, it was ruled by many warring chiefs), and you won’t hear how despite the initial musket wars NZ has had internal peace since the coming of the British. But in order to have a balanced view of history you need to hear both sides.

    If anyone speaks up and tries to tell the other side of NZ history, such as Maori cannibalism, they are hounded as being racist. This is a crazy situation, where it is not PC to tell the truth about history.

  2. Mr Dennis Says:

    Wahine, I am pleased to hear that not all schools teach the happy-clappy version of Maori history that I was taught. What school did you go to?

    I am an agricultural scientist and yes, I understand Maori did burn down more forest than the Europeans. This was done to flush out moa, clear land for bracken and cultivated food crops, and other purposes. By the time the Europeans arrived the tussock grasslands were established, but the land they are on is known to be burnt forest, burnt before the Europeans arrived. I don’t have the references though at the moment, if you’re really interested flick me an email and I’ll hunt them out (address on my “About” page).

  3. jeff Says:

    Three thousand years ago Moses described the promised, land that he had seen from Mount Nebo – and it was as follows (McCaskill, 1973. p. ix):

    “A land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of the valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey…”

    Look at your promised land now – desert.

    Pre human arrival, New Zealand had 85% forestation and forestation now covers 25% (Taylor & Smith, as cited in Harding et al, 2004). The Maori did burn a lot from the east coast of both main islands.

    The fires of the Maori took half of what is lost in 750 years and the Europeans took the other half in the last 150 years. When developing an agriculturally based economy in the 20th century – NZ suffered a higher rate of deforestation than any other country. When the Maori burnt forests it regenerated back to low species such as manuka and bracken. These species hold, collect and generate soil. They also protect the soil from sheet erosion caused by wind and rain (Ecan, 2007).

    The European colonisers, from whom I descend, had a different process of burning. They felled the largest trees, waited until the vegetation was dry in summer – and then burn the lot (McCaskill, 1973). The next stage of the process was to introduce livestock to the burnt land, so that in a state of near starvation any new growth would be consumed by that livestock (McCaskill, 1973). The result being, that except for charred stumps, the earth lay bare, ready for the farmer’s seed – and for the winter rains to flush fertile earth to turbid rivers choking with silt (McCaskill, 1973).

    According to Harris (1982), the DSIR classified 78% of our high country as eroded, and 25% as having lost more than 50% of its soil by 1945. This was found to be the result of farmers burning off tussock land for grazing, land that was marginal, erosion prone, and developed with the aid of government subsidies.

    Cheers
    Jeff

  4. jeff Says:

    As for your comment

    “You certainly won’t hear about how many Maori embraced Christianity as freeing them from their former culture of death.”

    I recall the Europeans developed a lucrative export trade in tattooed Maori heads – which created a market of death!

    The Maori then fought in two world wars – of who’s making?

    In addition to the rate of deforestation climbing rapidly, post colonisation, the rate of indigenous species extinctions also climbed several hundred percent.

    I am very surprised at your stances as a scientist who must know the scientifically established facts, and I wonder what is affecting your views. Your site is a disservice to our nation and society.

    Cheers again

    Jeff

  5. Mr Dennis Says:

    Jeff, thankyou for bringing still more points into the debate. As you can see, this is a very complicated issue. My point was not “Maori are evil and Europeans are holy and pure” – far from it! My point was simply that the history taught in school is highly simplistic and does not cover many of the important points raised by both you and me. A student CANNOT obtain a balanced view from the curriculim (from my experience) unless they study the historical literature for themselves, as you have certainly done.

    You said:
    “According to Harris (1982), the DSIR classified 78% of our high country as eroded, and 25% as having lost more than 50% of its soil by 1945. This was found to be the result of farmers burning off tussock land for grazing, land that was marginal, erosion prone, and developed with the aid of government subsidies.”

    You are absolutely correct. The best thing for our environment in recent years was the removal of subsidies in the 80’s, causing erosion-prone land to be placed in forestry or retired to bush. The worst thing was the threat of an ETS, which caused net deforestation again. Back further in history, the government giving unproductive farmland to returned servicemen after the war also caused land to be cleared that possibly never should have been.

    The best thing for production and maintaining the environment is a free market with strong private property rights, because when you own something you are motivated to preserve it for your children. And that is what good farmers do, placing the most erodable parts of their farms in trees and farming the flat land.

    Some farmers have certainly found this out the hard way over NZ’s history, and have cleared unproductive land and caused erosion. In the natural scheme of things this is rectified by the farmer themselves seeing their mistake and, realising the land is uneconomic, retiring it. But there have been many times in the past that the government has messed this up.

    It is when the government meddles and distorts the free market, by introducing incentives that make unproductive uses more profitable, that the environment is damaged in the long term.

    We’re moving off on a tangent here of course!

  6. jeff Says:

    Hello again Mr Dennis

    I have some questions for you about your comments,

    1.”The worst thing was the threat of an ETS, which caused net deforestation again.”

    The body of evidence is strong, and the overwhelming majority of scientists believe, from a review of copious data, that anthropogenically induced global warming is fact and presents one of the most significant threats to life of the unborn. We can see the impacts unfolding before our eyes, for example photographs of ancient glaciers retreating, heat reflecting polar ice area slipping into the heat absorbing oceans of increasing surface area.

    What do you think is a more effective means than the ETS to monitor and manage global warming emissions?

    As for the Maori culture of death, I have since found the typical price of a Maori head – it was one gun and sometimes a woman to have sex with. Once one party has a gun the other needs one too.

    Who is more evil, the native embroiled in tribal fighting, or the manipulator who fueled the fire and facilitated higher death tolls and then traded in human remains of the victims?

    Regards

    Jeff

  7. Mr Dennis Says:

    Regardless of whether or not humans are causing global warming, the reality is that because of a proposed ETS, New Zealand went into a period of net deforestation for the first time in around 30 years. The ETS had the opposite effect to what you or I would presumably want to see – therefore the ETS is bad policy. Anything that has the opposite effect to what was intended is clearly bad policy.

    This is a side-issue of course, but lets assume you are correct and anthropogenic global warming is a major issue. The emission reductions we need to make to keep it at reasonable levels are massive. The reality is that the biggest rising polluters (China, India, Chile etc) are not going to decrease emissions, they all wish to pursue industrialisation – and fair enough. But this is why the massive cuts called for by environmental organisations are not happening, whatever governments promise, and they will never happen. Humans will continue to pursue a higher standard of living, so as long as fossil fuels exist people will continue to use them.

    Climate change is therefore inevitable, and money spent trying to stop the inevitable may as well be flushed down a toilet.

    Instead of wasting our money on emissions trading and other ineffective nonsense, we could be investing in real research to enable us to adapt to a changing climate. Warmer temperatures present both difficulties and opportunities – don’t just focus on the difficulties, remember there are two sides to every story. We need to figure out how to capitalise on the opportunities, in order to provide the resources to cope with the difficulties.

    The other bonus of this approach is that if the global warming predictions turned out to be wrong, that research would provide technology that would be of great value regardless. It is a win-win approach, rather than an approach that is doomed to fail from the outset.

    Ok, I’m really off topic now! Back to Maori:

    “Who is more evil, the native embroiled in tribal fighting, or the manipulator who fueled the fire and facilitated higher death tolls and then traded in human remains of the victims?”

    Both are evil. We don’t need to figure out who was “more evil” and waste effort trying to find someone to “blame” – it is far better to simply condemn the actions of both.

  8. jeff Says:

    I forgot to mention about your other comment,

    “The best thing for production and maintaining the environment is a free market with strong private property rights, because when you own something you are motivated to preserve it for your children.”

    According to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand our offshore bankers made 4,500 million in 2008. This compares to DOC having 200 million to allocate to our 2788 endangered species (as listed in our threat classification list 2005). It seems then that the free market is free for bankers to massively exploit, while the environment that provides the energy and materials for the economy, and life itself – is depleted.

    and… as for strong property rights motivating farmers to preserve the land for their children – that is not logical to me. What law is in place that prevents farmers from protecting their land?

  9. Mr Dennis Says:

    “as for strong property rights motivating farmers to preserve the land for their children – that is not logical to me. What law is in place that prevents farmers from protecting their land?”

    I am the fifth generation of my family to live on the same farmland, and we do preserve it for our children, just as our ancestors preserved it for us. That’s human nature.

    No law prevents farmers from protecting their land – but the law may influence them in that way. As I pointed out earlier, when state intervention in agriculture was removed, forestry flourished – farmers protected their land. When the state intervened again, these trees were chopped down.

    The reason is that if you know you will have the freedom to use your land how you like in the future, you are willing to invest in things that provide benefits in the long-term – like trees. However if you are afraid that your use of the land will be restricted in future, you are motivated to pursue short-term gain instead (cut down the trees and grow pasture), before you lose the freedom to do so.

  10. Jeff Says:

    Hi Mr Dennis

    If the threat of legislation to protect afforestation is a disincentive to farmers, to plant trees for what you describe as the ‘long term good’, it would seem that the farmer is not sure trees are for the long term good if the threat of legislation to protect them is in fact a threat.

    As for global warming, I think your stance, as a scientist, is in opposition to the vast and ever increasing majority of your peers.

    As for proposing that people will burn fossil fuels to the end, because it is there – is potentially flawed. National and international law, to protect human from human, is constantly developing as a human interest. For example, I’m not jumping over your fence with my chansaw to cut one of your trees down for my fire – only because I’m not allowed to. When people realise that current trends are creating a world so that their children will likely not have grandchildren – consumption and inequality patterns may change for the good of all. People that make out that the planets life support systems are fine, when in fact the scientific data clearly shows massive decline, are the primary barrier to guaranteeing that earth remains habitable.

    You are a God fearing man, I have difficulty understand why you would propagate proposals that impede a global pro-life movement. Didn’t Eve scoff the apple so we can tell right from wrong? (and blame chicks for all our problems)

    Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. Everything comes from the Earth, and to the Earth everything shall return. A planet so cunningly devised that the worlds best scientist put together could not have even dreamed about it let alone replicated it. Have you thought that perhaps God is an ancient metaphor for the living planet Earth – and that you are therefore batting for the wrong side?

    You don’t need a bible to tell right from wrong (thanks Eve). Go to bed tonight and think about what you can propagate to benefit equality and happyness for current and future generations – not what is best for the farmer’s next year’s cash profit.

  11. Mr Dennis Says:

    Jeff

    When a farmer plants trees, he does so intending to harvest them in 30+ years (after which he will most likely replant, the area will generally stay in forestry even if occasionally logged). That income is a big part of the long-term gain. Legislation that protects them may prevent him from getting any money back – and in the meantime he must continue to pay rates, must pay the cost of establishing and maintaining them – which he cannot do with no prospect of income.

    You misunderstand my stance on global warming. That is an issue I refuse to pick sides on, because science demands very high standards of proof which I have not seen on this issue from either direction. Science is not decided by democracy or consensus, but by the results of reproducable and testable scientific experimentation. Furthermore I am unwilling to take either position on pure faith. I therefore favour proposals that will be positive whichever side turns out to be correct.

    Your faith in international law controlling human nature is very strong, but unfortunately history would not agree. Ultimately overpopulation and demand for resources will outweigh any temporary treaty – humans have always used resources (fighting for them if necessary) and always will. Even if such consumption is slowed by treaty, it will never cease.

    I wish to protect the earth because God created Man to tend and keep the earth. We must be good stewards of His creation. In order to do this we MUST promote practical policies that will actually succeed, rather than jumping around with nice sounding slogans.

    Who is doing more for the earth, the person who achieves a slight improvement, or the person who shouts loudly for a large improvement and actually achieves nothing?

  12. Jeff Says:

    That’s rubbish Dennis.

    Planted forests are exempt. No sustainable management permit or plan from MAF is required to harvest them. In fact you can get a subsidy to plant trees to sequester carbon.

    Furthermore, multilateral agreements have influenced legislation so mongrels exploiting flogged land can’t hack down every last tree standing. For example by 1920 Banks peninsular was left with only 1% of forest cover left. How stupid.

    Do you want our descendant to be offshore banker’s tenants of a bare rock? That’s where the trends were leading, and still are. Go swim in your local creek. If your can. Your farm in Canterbury? Go stand outside and see what is left but grass, grass and more grass. Pity you cant smoke it.

    As for global warming, if it is true and we continue, 6 billion people could die. There won’t be enough room in heaven for the culprits. Geeze Hilter only took out a few million. If global warming is is not true we save some fossil fuel for our descendants who can probably burn it cleaner and get more energy use from it. What is wrong with that?

  13. Jeff Says:

    Whoops I said “our descendant” I meant “our descendants” I wouldn’t want anyone to think that we had a child together. I’d have it aborted immediately and forthwith.


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