Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fletch Were The Maori Here First? Rewriting NZ History

[ADMIN: This post does not reflect the opinions of all the authors here at NZ Conservative.]

I suppose this will cause a bit of controversy, but it's really quite interesting.

Down my way, we get a free local magazine called Franklin eLocal and they have been publishing a series of articles that challenges the accepted lore that the Maori were the first inhabitants of New Zealand. One person who is investigating this is Northland researcher Noel Hilliam, who has been compiling evidence of this country’s earliest settlers since 1954 and is retired curator of Dargaville Museum.

Academics from various universities in New Zealand who talk privately
to veteran Northland researcher Noel Hilliam are astounded
at his research material and indisputable evidence of habitation
in early New Zealand. They encourage him to keep speaking out
about the truth, but none will back him publicly. They are afraid to
jeopardise their jobs and research funding by going against the relatively
recent official belief that Polynesians were the first to settle
in New Zealand.

Noel has written to John Key numerous times and also Chris Finlayson, neither who seem to want to know about it. Finlayson emailed back and actually directed him to look at Michael King's The Penguin History of New Zealand, as though that is somehow the Bible of our history.

The problem is that when any remains are found, they are given to local iwi without being examined, or else land with artifacts is being given back to Maori and researchers haven't got permission to go and study finds.

Noel comments: “You will learn the true early history of this
country’s earlier peoples from the Maori and original hand written
records of the Land Court minute books. Those people based
their recorded history on fact and had no reason to lie. The
distortion of our history has come about over the last 30 –40 years.
When Governor Bowen came to the Northern Wairoa in the late
1860s, he met with 600 odd assembled Maori from all over Northland
at Te Kopuru. He put it to those assembled the question of
“who did these ancient skeletons belong to?” Maori replied they
did not know who these early peoples were and to “do with them
what you wish, they are not our people.” This is recorded in Bowen’s
papers and journals of the time, which can be read in the Alexander
Turnbull Library. Around 60,000 of these skeletons were taken to
Eden Mill in Auckland over three years and ground up for fertilizer
– ‘Bone Dust,’ but there are still many more in sites around. They
did not get them all.” (The next episode in this [eLocal] series will feature
Eden Mill.)

It's not just writings - there is heaps of archaeological evidence that has been found including non-European skulls dating back 300 years and 'Maori' heads with blonde or red hair.

Recently, an earthmoving contractor uncovered 120 skeletons
buried in the foetal position at a new housing site in the Bay of
Islands. He contacted archaeologists in Auckland who said to go to
the police. They asked him to show the site to a local Maori, who
said the remains were not Maori. The contractor was told to bulldoze
the whole site and cover it up

In any case, if you want to read more, check out the archives at The latest issue has the article (November 2009), and there are other articles on the same subject in the September, October, November 2008 issues and January 2009. All are in PDF format downloadable from the site. They have more articles to come.

40 comment(s):

KG said...

Heh! No wonder this isn't more widely known. Together with the Littlewood Treaty it would derail the grievance gravy-train.


I recall many of these stories when I lived in Dargaville ten years ago.
I was quite fascinated by it all, but as a recent arrival from Britain at the time, perhaps I did not understand the significance of it all.
There was much said up there that contradicts the official versions of history.
I recall tales of old Portuguese ships running aground well before Cook and Co came to New Zealand and I recall stories of some ancient stone circles or something in Waipoua Forest that predates Maori settlement too.
Yet, the Department of Conservation is involved in a cover up here.
I am sure there is a strong case to be made that Maori were not the first and politics should be put aside to see what breally happened.
But I guess there are too many vested interests at stake.


I recall many of these stories when I lived in Dargaville ten years ago.
I was quite fascinated by it all, but as a recent arrival from Britain at the time, perhaps I did not understand the significance of it all.
There was much said up there that contradicts the official versions of history.
I recall tales of old Portuguese ships running aground well before Cook and Co came to New Zealand and I recall stories of some ancient stone circles or something in Waipoua Forest that predates Maori settlement too.
Yet, the Department of Conservation is involved in a cover up here.
I am sure there is a strong case to be made that Maori were not the first and politics should be put aside to see what breally happened.
But I guess there are too many vested interests at stake.

I.M Fletcher said...

Yup, apparently these stones are all over NZ. Here's an excerpt from another issue of eLocal (Sept 2008) which you can find the PDF for online -


How many of you have noticed a cluster of large stones near the
Pukekohe southern off ramp at Bombay and thought - “They look
like standing stones?” Well, you would be right. It took a visiting
British Antiquarian to spot and draw them to Martin’s attention.
These stones are obelisk boulders with ancient spiral incising and five hand hewn bullauns cut into them, and are not unique. They are part of a network of such points covering the entire Auckland isthmus – and beyond. Bullauns are Neolithic ceremonial ‘holy wells,’ used for ritualistic cleansing found in rock structures throughout ancient Europe. (later adopted by the Christian Church as baptismal fonts.)
The Bombay stones were uncovered in 1992 when engineers dug to
build the Southern motorway extension. They were repositioned on farmland close to their original site, while several others were buried nearby.
Construction Superintendent, Nick Botica was told by advisors at the
time that the tephra ash covering the obelisks and other component
parts of the Bombay Hill structure came from the Taupo eruption
of 186 AD – providing positive evidence that this site was last used over 1800 years ago. If the tephra is from Taupo, then there can be no doubt the intricate incising and bullaun bowls were created by humans over 1000 years before Maori arrived on these shores.
The Taupo eruption is said to be the largest volcanic explosion in
recorded history, the noise from which was heard in China. It’s quite possible that shock waves and ground tremors from the massive
eruption toppled the standing obelisks at the Bombay Hills. Over
ensuing days or weeks beyond the eruption they were covered in
a blanket of volcanic ash and not found again until Nick Botica’s
roading crew happened upon them in 1992.

KG said...

That looks like a good magazine Fletch but the site's format is just awful!

I.M Fletcher said...

LOL, I know, it's a bit amateur. That's the way we roll down this way.

Lucia Maria said...


could you put in a direct link to the story, as I've noticed they have links to individual pages. I just don't have the time to go looking for each article through mulitiple PDFs and there may be other out there just like me.

Not to mention that loading one of the PDFs just crashed my computer (probably because I was searching through the PDF at the time), so not keen to repeat the experience.

I.M Fletcher said...

Sure, sorry.
They have links to the issue with all the pages, or just links to separate pages. The story in the latest issue is on pages 12, 13, 14, and 15 of the issue. Is best to RIGHT click on them and SAVE LINK AS.

The September 2008 issue page links are for pages 16, 18, and 20 (ads in between).

I only have dialup here as well, so the process of downloading whole issues can take me some time. For links to the other issues, you will have to investigate their archive, but the RIGHT click and save link as is the best way.

I.M Fletcher said...

So, just to clarify, they've done it a weird way in which you can download each whole issue as one multi-page PDF (which is best for those with a fast connection) or a page-at-a-time (each single page being a PDF).

I.M Fletcher said...

Full issue September 2008
Full issue October 2008
Full issue November 2008
Full Issue January 2009

Full Issue November 2009

WHen saving, please RIGHT click and 'Save Link As' or similar.

MrTips said...

stunning stuff and really interesting!

I hope you have saved a copy of all the PDF links on your own PC for records.

In case someone decides to make elocal remove such heresy from their own servers.

KG said...

That's a thought Tips--I'll download 'em and burn them to disc.

maps said...

Hi Fletch,

Along with a few other members of the 'conspiracy' which studies New Zealand history, controls museums,
brainwashes children, and so on, I spent a bit of time responding to the articles in Franklin E Local last year.

The articles use the 'research' of Martin Doutre, a self-proclaimed expert in 'astroarchaeology' who also has some rather eccentric views on subjects like the Holocaust, the people responsible for 9/11, and apartheid. Basically he's a neo-Nazi nut. Anyway, you can decide for yourself if you take a look at my original critique of the E local articles and the debate that ensued, which pitted Doutre against a number of serious researchers into New Zealand history:

maps said...

I just had a look at the old debate on SRB and realised it is quite long-winded. If anyone hasn't got the time to run through all the details, I'll just ask them to consider, as an example of the evidence ranged against the 'Celtic New Zealand' argument, the DNA tests which have traced Maori ancestry back through Polynesia and Melanesia to southeast Asia with such success over the last decade.

If, as Doutre et al say, Maori wiped out the Cetlic men who supposedly settled New Zealand and interbred with their women, then we ought to find some DNA trace of this. We don't.

As a commentator on the 2005 study which took Maori DNA back to prehistoric Taiwan wrote:

'There no early European haplotype alleles found in Maori DNA. The manner in which Y-STR haplotypes mutate enable us to trace Maori genetics began in the indigenous Taiwan DNA some 40,000 years, with alleles from Indonesia and Sumartra being admixed along the way of slow boat migrations into South East Asia, and eventually were admixed with genetics from Melanesia, where admixing ends until the introduction of Eurpoean genetics occurred into Maori DNA, and that is conclusively proven as ‘very recent’.

The beauty of the Y-STR haplotypes mutations is that they show geneological sequences of evens from the original version of the genes through to the latest version.'

Martin Doutre and his co-thinkers have responded to all the DNA studies which contradict their arguments by attributing them to a conspiracy by the Jews/Marxists/New World Order/PC establishment. The fact that many of these studies were conducted partially outside New Zealand (the 2005 study was conducted partially in Singapore) only makes such responses sillier.

And sadly, Doutre et al deal with every other piece of evidence which contradicts their worldview in the same way - the absence of European skeletons under the Taupo tephra, the absence of pottery in New Zealand, the lack of evidence of forest clearance before a thousand years ago - it's all a conspiracy.

Even the evident lack of aquatechnology amongst the ancient Celts, which means it would have been impossible for them to get anywhere near New Zealand, is dismissed by Doutre in his book as the product of the suppression of the true historical record by the Romans. The Romans were in on the conspiracy!

Obviously most of the readers of a conservative blog like this will have very different views on subjects like race relations, the Treaty of Waitangi and so on to me. I'm not going to change your views, I'm sure, but I'd urge you to argue for them using reputable sources and scholars, not conspiracy theory nutters like Martin Doutre. Contrary to the myth of a hegemonic conspiratorial intellectual establishment that Doutre puts forward, there are plenty of academics and intellectuals who take a conservative, critical view of the Treaty and Tino Rangatiratanga - CK Stead, Elizabeth Rata, Dennis Dutton, and Paul Moon (who has been at pains to distance himself from the attempts by Franklin E Local and Doutre to lay claim to his views) are just a few of them.

We shouldn't abandon a respect for scholarship and rational argument because of our political agenda. (And this argument holds for the lefties who fall for silly conspiracy theories about 9/11 and Israel running the world, as much as for the righties attracted to Doutre, to the pseudo-science of Creationism, and so on.) If we sacrifice schoalrship and rationality, then we are all in trouble.

On a more positive note, here's a possible pre-Cook European visit to New Zealand for which some fascinating evidence has emerged in the last year or two:

I.M Fletcher said...

maps, thanks I will look at that, but this latest article has nothing to do with Doutre. The guy's name is Noel Hilliam and he was curator at Dargaville museum and it seems that a lot of people support him and his findings (privately if not publicly). Personally, I find his research very compelling.

Like most issues of this sort there are folks with opinions on either extreme, but I can't see why serious study is not allowed of these remains which are just automatically given back to iwi without question.

I think there is enough evidence to prove that Maori weren't the first here, but what does that mean exactly? Do Maori owe ancestors of these early people compensation for taking their land? Are their any even left (did Maori kill them all?)

Even if there aren't any serious ramifications, it's our history and that history should be set straight. As Hilliam pointed out (and I quoted) 'You will learn the true early history of this
country’s earlier peoples from the Maori and original hand written
records of the Land Court minute books', and some of these can be found in the Turnbull library - it's not like it's made up.

maps said...

Hi Fletch,

I've had a bit to do with Hilliam recently, and unfortunately he's cut from the same cloth as Doutre. The Dargy museum has washed its hands of him, and the Histroic Places Trust is investigating him for the desecration of graves in the Kaipara.

Hilliam's cluelessness isn't confined to New Zealand prehistory - he made a fool of himself a year or so ago by claiming to have found a German U boat in the Kaipara.

I don't know of any researcher outside the lunatic fringe represented by Doutre and Hilliam (and calling them researchers is generous, as they have no training at all in any relevant discipline) who thinks there is any evidence at all for pre-Maori occupation of New Zealand. The notion that Moriori were a pre-Maori Melanesian people (as opposed to Maori who went to live on the Chathams and developed a unique culture there) was put forward in the late nineteenth century by Best and Smith, but disproved by HD Skinner in the '20s. It has lingered on in popular imagination, but not amongst any scholars.

The more recent theories of Celts and a supernatural 'Nation of Waitaha' were put forward in the '80s and '90s by New Agers and neo-Nazis respectively - neither theory has ever had any credibility.

I think there is a danger of making this issue inherently political, when it actually isn't, any more than research into, say, evolution, is inherently political.

As I said on another blog, to a proponent of the Celtic NZ thesis (yes, I know, I spend too much time talking about this issue!):

'As far as we know Maori were indeed here first, but even if they weren’t that doesn’t, in their eyes and in the eyes of the Treaty, stop them from being indigenous. That’s because Maori understand indigenity as something which derives not from first occupation but from a series of activities – taking possession of the land, naming it, burying the dead there, burying placenta there, and so on (it’s no coincidence that the Maori word for land is also the Maori word for placenta).

You suggest that if the remains of a pre-Maori civilisation were discovered, then the Treaty would have to be torn up and Maori would have to abandon their claims to be the tangata whenua of New Zealand, and that there is thus an incentive for Maori and pro-Treaty researchers to hide evidence of a pre-Maori civlisation. But you ignore the fact that there have already been Treaty settlements where a group of Maori have been recognised as indigenous, and offered certain resources, despite the acknowledged fact that they were not the first occupants of their rohe.

A good example is Kai Tahu, the iwi which was recognised as the tangata whenua of most of the South Island and given a range of resources in one of the first major Treaty settlements in the early ’90s. No Kai Tahu leader has ever denied that the iwi was not the first to take possession of the southern part of the South Island. The Waitaha and Ngati Mamoe peoples lived in the area before Kai Tahu arrived sometime in the seventeenth century. These prior peoples were either conquered or assimilated, or both, and Kai Tahu became the tangata whenua of Murihiku.

Now, you might consider it a deplorable state of affairs that Maori and the Waitangi Tribunal define indigenity by criteria other than initial occupation, but the fact that they do shows that the discovery of the remains of a pre-Maori civilisation would not derail the Treaty process and stop Maori claiming indigenity. There’d be no need for an elaborate conspiracy to disguise such remains – Maori leaders and other supporters of the Treaty would simply say ‘Ah well, there were these other ones, but they died out and we were the ones who were in possession of the land and had become tangata whenua by the time the Europeans arrived’.

In other words, why politicise this issue?

I.M Fletcher said...

maps, I just find ancient cultures interesting and this interested me very much; after all, it's not like there's no evidence.

I'm not trying to politicize the story, it's just that if there were other people here before, then why hide it? It's part of the history of this country. Maori definitely did not build the standing stones and markers all over Auckland and there are bones that pre-date theirs. Maori have always spoken of a fair-skinned people who preceded them called “Patu-paiarehe” or Turehu.

Another quote -

"Another pertinent question asked is: If the Polynesian
Maori brought their artefacts and cultural symbols and motifs here, then why are they not found in their lands of origin? Professor Thor Heyerdahl wrote: ‘Irrespective of how
and when the Maori began to cover their carvings with spirals, the habit is absent in their
Polynesian homeland.”

As I say, very interesting to me.

Edward said...


A number of points.

1)Noel Hilliam and Martin Doutre are linked in their ideas insofar as a supposed conspiracy by the government and pre-Maori people are concerned - try to do a little digging, you'll find they reference each other often.

2)Furthermore, I am very familiar with Hilliam's ramblings, as are the rest of New Zealand's archaeologists and historians and let me assure you he does not recieve support by any academics - not one iota in private or in public, and I should know as I am an archaeologist. I'm not sure where you heard that from, but i'm guessing it wasn't from any actual archaeologists or historians?

3)I'm not sure I agree with you that there are opinions on either extreme on this issue. There is unanimous agreement by those with actual training and fieldwork in this discipline or area, who's job it is to research the archaeological record, and who all disagree quite strongly with Hilliam and Doutre. Also, study of remains is carried out all of the time by archaeologists in NZ, so i'm not sure where you got the notion that it's 'not allowed' from, but again I suspect it wasn't from an actual scholar? The reason why Hilliam can't carry out 'serious' study on these remains is becuase he is not a serious scholar - he has no formal training or experience in archaeology or forensic anthropology so it would be inconcievable for him to handle such remains.

4) I disagree entirely with your assertion that there is "evidence to prove that Maori weren't the first here". Firstly, i'm open to reasonable possibilities or alternative hypotheses - if an archaeologist came across such evidence it would make his/her career rather than break it - but such alternative hypotheses need to be backed up by evidence. And where is this evidence? The so-called evidence I have seen by both Hilliam and Doutre simply don't hold up - they are misinterpreted from natural or early Polynesian phenomenon. Where are the structural foundations of said previous civilisation? Where are their supposed metal implements? Where are their agricultural feilds or soils? Where are the carbon dates? Where are the examples of early dates in the stratigraphy? Where are their middens or trash piles? Where are their quarries? Where is any of the material evidence which would be needed to back up the claims of Hilliam? It simply isn't there, and believe me, i've looked myself. It's what i'm trained to do. At the end of the day every archaeologist of NZ history disagrees with Hilliam because no evidence exists to support his argument. It's not a conspiracy, its simply reality.

Edward said...

5)You're right, it is our history. And it has been studied actively by a rich tradition of scientists and other scholars for the last hundred years which have arrived at the current consensus. I'm afraid the likes of Hilliam and Doutre cannot claim to fit into that - neither of them have any relevant formal education or experience in archaeology or any related discipline - and so, suprise suprise, when no one with the requisite training agrees with them, well, they must all be wrong and part of a conspiracy? Really? I'm afraid Hilliam is no authority on these matters, and, if he really does want to prove his hypothesis, why didn't he go to university to train like the rest of us so as to gain an understanding of at least the basic principals of the scientific method?

6) As for the land court records, again, most scholars of NZ history or prehistory are familiar with them. I don't recall anything in there to clearly state anything about pre-Maori people other than the folk stories of the kind which every culture has - the Irish have their leprechauns and fairy folk afterall don't they, and we don't run around claiming that is based on reality do we? As you say, the records are there for all to see, and i'd rather that then people swallow whatever some random guy in a small town with no training whatsoever has to say.

I sincerely hope you take the time to digest what i've put in my points and also what Maps has written to you. Again, i'm open to alternative possibilities, but only if they can be backed up by compelling evidence. The references to academics supporting Hilliam are simply false, and I just hope that you will not be sucked in by anymore of this nonsense. As Maps said, this really isn't a matter of politics but rather a matter of scholarship and reason. I sincerely hope you decide to choose the more rational side, as I know i'm unlikely to be able to persuade you myself.

Below is a link which might be useful for reading up on these conspiracy theories and why serious scholars reject them and also a link to the NZAA statement on the matter:

maps said...

Hi Fletcher,

do you really think that Maori motifs like spirals not present elsewhere? Have you ever travelled in Polynesia? Seen a tapa cloth?

Heyerdahl's theory that Polynesians come from South America hasn't been credible for a long time, but now that we have DNA evidence of the lack of connection between South American peoples and Polynesians I would have thought that anyone would have bought better of citing his opinion.

The 'standing stone markers' around Auckland are piles of rocks that triggered Martin Doutre's imagination, and the oral traditions of pale-skinned fairy folk that some iwi have are treated, by the iwi themselves, as stories, not as reports on reality. Are taniwha and the hairy wild men mentioned in the same traditions real, too? How about the leprechauns of Irish myth?

To be fair, Martin Doutre and Noel Hilliam believe in leprechauns as well as turehu - they explain the tiny doorways to raised Maori storehouses by saying they were designed by and for Celtic little people!

You see how ridiculous this stuff is? I share your fascination with ancient cultures, but real scholarship is always better than the work of kooks.

I.M Fletcher said...

LOL, I said when I started that this would be controversial.

Perhaps we may never really know, but both oral and written historical evidence doesn't quite match up with what you're saying. Let's just see what happens I guess. I do know that all the people I have talked to who have read the articles believe there is some truth to them, especially the ones who have seen those carved standing stones in their areas that are supposed to predate the Taupo eruption.

A lot of the evidence seems to have conveniently been destroyed - skeletons ground up, sites of stone walls demolished, remains paved over. The question is: why? Maybe in the past it didn't seem to matter, but surely our 20th century archaeologists aren't so lax as to just let these finds be destroyed without some good reason?

Even people taking the time to post on here who never have before tells me something....

I will await the next eLocal article with interest.

Edward said...

I.M. Fletcher,

I don't think it's really as controversial as you think - there's simply no evidence for Hilliam's or Doutre's assertions - but I can appreciate you are interested in prehistory, and I think that's great.

I think the oral and written history does match up pretty well with the consensus, which, after all hasn't just been arrived at by archaeologists, but also from evidence in the fields of linguistics, history, geology, chemistry, botany...the list really does go on and also includes Maori studies itself.

And I guess if after decades of research which has been carried out you still don't really want to believe it, or would rather wait longer, then I guess that's up to you. At the end of the day the burden of proof is in the hands of such people as Doutre or Hilliam to make a compelling and hole proof argument. No sign of it yet though.

As for the people you know, fair enough. Many people believe many different things, but if it isn't backed up by the evidence (and if they don't have the requisite skills or background knowledge to differentiate) then in this situation there isn't much reason to use that as a point of argument.

As for the assertion that a lot of evidence has been destroyed, I already addressed this point: where have you gotten that info from? The elocal, Hilliam or Doutre? Because none of these sources involve anyone who actually carries out archaeological assessments or excavations or knows what is involved, so they probably aren't the best sources to get info from about what archaeologists do. The last thing any archaeologist would do would be to destroy archaeological evidence - we keep everything: charcoal, midden, artefacts, shards of stone, bones, very accurate recordings of features - and it can be very very tedious work going through it all (many graduates including myself have had the first hand horror of having to sit and measure and count shellfish from midden or shards of rock from quarry sites for weeks and weeks..not as fun as it sounds). Also, why is it that Hilliams, Doutre and the elocal (which all actually reference each other) only cite invisible evidence? Evidence which was supposedly destroyed according to them although they never actually viewed it, or, alternatively, were the only ones to have ever viewed said evidence? I'm afraid it sounds a bit suss to me and seems more like a convenient straw man argument to set up and knock down. Again, we [archaeologists] aren't interested in destroying the very material we study - we'd put ourselves out of work! Perhaps the 'why' should be directed to Hilliam's and Doutre and why their 'irrefutable evidence' can't be supplied?

Edward said...

As for your last point, well, I guess I’m damned if I do and damned if I don't then aren't I? If I comment on here to try and put forward the perspective of an archaeologist, in order to balance out and try and correct some of your info, then I must have some ulterior motive and be part of the conspiracy, right? Yet, if I say nothing and stick my head in the sand then I do the public and society in general a disservice by failing to try and educate people about issues which are my speciality, and which may be being misunderstood, and thus fail my obligation as someone fortunate enough to have studied archaeology, right? You see my predicament? If I say something I’m 'one of them'. If I say nothing, then all sorts of incorrect info and misnomers keep being disseminated.
I come across sites I’m not a regular on all of the time, because I’m passionate about archaeology and it pains me to see people being led down the irrational path of pseudo-science and conspiracy theories when I know people are much more intelligent than that.

Anyway, I guess that's all I can say really. The links I provided you earlier had a few good books which you could always get out to at least get a balanced perspective. Doutre and Hilliam don't even know what archaeology is, let alone how to do it, so I really would recommend looking those books up. Again, I’m glad you've taken an interest in NZ prehistory, it really is very fascinating - and the real stuff is even more interesting than the fancies Hilliam can condure. I do hope you'll at least consider what I’ve said and also do some wider reading of the scientific and scholarly literature.

Anyway, good luck.


MrTips said...

Prof Keith Sinclair RIP, thought there was enough evidence from archeological sites to write that there was a group of peoples here before the Maori. It was his opinion the Maori assimilated them and he wrote so in his History of New Zealand text book I read at University.

So the concept of the Maori not being first is not so far fetched.

maps said...

You seem to be misremembering Sinclair's views, Mr Tips. Here's what he actually writes in the first chapter of his Penguin History of New Zealand:

'It was once thought, because of a Maori tradition, that the aboriginal inhabitants, the tangata whenua or 'men of the land', were darker than the Maori and probably Melanesian. This was not impossible, for Melanesians reached Fiji; but no Melanesian remains have been found in New Zealand. From the design of their stone adzes, fish hooks, and personal ornaments, we know that the first inhabitants to leave any traces came from Eastern Polynesia.' (pg 14)

Sinclair was writing almost fifty years ago, but even then the Victorian theory that Tuhoe and the Moriori people of the Chathams were the remnants of a Melanesian people had been discredited. DH Skinner's expeditions to the Chathams after World War One had established that Moriori were physiologically Polynesian, that their language was not Melanesian but rather a dialect of Maori (whakapapa becomes hokopapa and so on), and their physical culture was recognisably East Polynesian.

In the decades since Sinclair wrote we have done many more digs and acquired new forms of investigation, like DNA testing and pollen spore analysis. As Michael King noted in the first chapter of his own Penguin History of New Zealand a few years ago, there is still 'not a skerrick of evidence' for the idea that a non-Polynesian people settled this country before Maori.

From the point of the scholars, then, the notion that Maori were not first is indeed, in the light of what we currently know, 'far-fetched'. Of course, we could all be part of a gigantic Jewish-Marxist-PC establishment conspiracy, as Doutre and Hilliam allege...

ZenTiger said...

Edward, Maps. No comment is wasted here, as it enables our readers to consider a range of information and make up their minds for themselves.

Thanks for broadening the discussion.

Edward said...

Hi Mr Tips,

I think you've misunderstood his arguments there. I'm not trying to take away from his work, but his work focused largely on Maori-European history. His work is also a bit outdated, as there is a huge literature on the subject which people seem to refuse to read.

The archaeological literature also goes through all of the evidence clearly and methodologically, as there really isn't much room for subjectivity in modern archaeology, so if people could just read some of it, as I suggest, they can make up their own minds based on an informed decision. The thing I don't get is that people like to cite the one or two individuals who have an alternative hypothesis, as though this counts as the scholarly consensus, while refusing to read through the massive literature which clearly outlines why those hypotheses don't work. It really is a bit intellectually dishonest.
Also, science and modern scholarship in general changes overtime as the evidence accumulates. Think about how early archaeologists used to think that stone hand axes found in Europe were the result of lightning strikes, or even the infamous 'piltdown man'. These ideas were discredited as new information came to light. The same can be said of early notions about NZ prehistory (when early amateur historians first thought that early South Island Maori who hunted Moa were a people from the upper paleolithic, some 10,000 years ago!).

Edward said...

At the end of the day, just because someone may have once thought that there were people who settled here before Maori, doesn't mean that that view still holds water. If, as again I suggest, you do a little wider reading, you will find that the idea is in fact far fetched and simply a relic of the past. All of the evidence is there, laid out in tons and tons of archaeological literature. I doubt very much that anything I can say on here will persuade you, and it would be impossible for me to put all of the information here for you unfortunately.

I suppose no one is forcing you or anyone else to believe archaeologists or the current consensus, but it just seems really weird to me that people will choose to believe an untrained guy who doesn't even understand the basics of archaeology, or early, outdated and since proven false hypotheses put forward by one or two historians, over the unanimous support of the current consensus by people trained in archaeology and related fields. I really don't understand it. To me, it's like believing the opinion of a random guy who isn't trained in internal medicine over the opinion of a trained and experienced medical doctor, or, alternatively, holding to the views of medical science from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It just makes no sense.

Both you and Fletcher seem like articulate people, as do many other people who buy into this nonsense, and that's why it seems all the more a pity that I need to struggle to get things across which are as accepted as plate tectonics or gravity is. I really don't get it. All I can say is please read through my previous comments, I don't feel that asking you guys to merely do some wider reading of the modern scholarly literature to get a balanced view is an unreasonable request is it? After all, isn't it better to have an informed decision?

As I said in my last comment, i'm not here to ram evidence or my opinion down your throat, but just to ask you to use your reason and get a balanced view from reading the literature which is written by modern scholars, rather than by franklin elcoal editors. If you think that plea is unreasonable, then i'm completely wasting my time on here as you will have already made up your mind based on what you wish to believe, rather than the evidence.



Edward said...

btw thanks zen tiger, I appreciate that.

MrTips said...

Maps and Edward

Thanks for the info. I am not concerned one way or another on the issue, just concerned that ideas are not put down because they are politically incorrect.
And I take your info as good. I have been educated on the matter :-)

Interesting to hear that Sinclair's view has lost truck. So much for universities!

I just find it all rather interesting that's all.

I.M Fletcher said...

I also am taking on board your posts, but I am not convinced one way or the other really. The qualifications (or lack thereof) of people looking into the subject don't really compel me to believe one side over the other. It's the physical evidence that will make the case one way or the other for me personally.

Big boulders with non-Maori carvings that predate Maori are hard to overlook, as is the written evidence of the past by people who had no reason to lie.

Perhaps in not being professionals if gives these men (HIlliam et al) actually some freedom not to be biased in conforming to the status quo or to be worried by potential ridicule.

I also think that just because people are in a minority it doesn't mean that they are wrong.

If you’d asked any scientist or doctor 30 years ago where stomach ulcers come from, they would all have given the same answer: obviously it comes from the acid brought on by too much stress. All of them apart from two scientists who were pilloried for their crazy, whacko theory that it was caused by a bacteria. In 2005 they won the Nobel prize. The “consensus” was wrong.

Edward said...
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maps said...

Hi Fletcher,

the difference is that the two people who made the discovery you mention were trained scientists who were able to formulate and test their theories, and eventually to get into the peer-reviewed literature.

By contrast the 'Celtic NZ' circle are totally untrained eccentrics driven by conspiracy theories and, in many cases (Doutre, Bolton), by neo-Nazism. As a look at the Celtic NZ website will show you, they are incapable even of writing a short article in a coherent manner, let alone constructing an academic paper.

These people simply have no idea of the most basic concepts which researchers need when they consider New Zealand history and prehistory.

Take this notion of 'non-Maori carvings'. Hilliam thinks the pou from Putou which was until recently on display in Dargy museum and is reproduced in the E Local article is carved in a 'non-Maori' style. For anyone with the slightest knowledge of the subject, the claim is absurd: with its simple spiral and relative lack of carved detail, the pou is instantly recognisable as archaic Maori in style.

Take a look at the Kaitaia lintelpiece in the Auckland museum, one of the most famous Maori carvings ever found, and the similarities are immediately apparent. Take a look at the Uenuku carving in Te Awamutu museum and they are even more obvious. And take a look at the work of the carvers of East Polynesian cultures, and also the work of Moriori, and you'll see more immediate similarities.

When people like Hilliam call the Pouto pou 'non-Maori', or make bizarre statements like 'there is no Polynesian precedent for the spiral motif in Maori art', it's very difficult to know what to do in response except to shake one's head. They simply haven't a clue what they're talking about.

I take it you're still referring to the supposed Celtic standing stones that Martin Doutre claims to have found all over Auckland and other areas when you talk about 'big boulders with non-Maori carvings'.

Doutre's claims that there were 'Stonehenge-like observatories' on the volcanoes of Auckland is based on his calculations of the distances between the stones on places like Mt Mangere. He makes astronomical calculations and then claims that these calculations show parralels with various stone sites in the northern hemisphere.

This supposedly indicates that both the Kiwi Celts and the folks who made sites like Stonehenge were members of an ancient religion which had advanced knowledge of astronomy and also of mysterious 'energy flows'. The observatories in NZ and the 'observatories' in the northern hemisphere were supposedly locked together in some sort grid which transmitted energy. Doutre keeps finding 'ancient configurations' in the stones - he talks about 'The Eight-pointed star of Isis', the 'Grand Cross', and the 'Twelve-pointed star of Gigal' and so on.

All this is, of course, New Age poppycock, which has nothing at all to do with the real history of Stonehenge (which simply wasn't some kind of sophisticated observatory, as Doutre claims it was), let alone the real history of Mt Mangere and similar sites.

Edward said...
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maps said...


Doutre uses a 'geomancer's mile' as his unit of measurement when he makes his abstruse, rather mad calculations about the relationships between the different standing stone sites. Nobody except for him seems to use this unit of measurement, and it seems to have no fixed value. Basically it means whatever Martin Doutre wants it to mean.

As for these 'non-Maori carvings' on the stones: well, I've seen some of these stones in question up close and, yes, some of them do have carvings which are probably non-Maori. But since they are graffitti from historic times I'm not sure they count!

And if you're going to take Doutre as your guide to the rocks of Auckland, I hope you're also prepared to buy into some fairly eccentric interpretations of our geological history: in one of the E Local articles, Doutre claims that all the experts have gotten it wrong, and Rangitoto is actually an old volcano!

What are the old texts in the Turnbull that you mention which you think are proof for a pre-Maori settlement of New Zealand? I go down there regularly and would be happy to look them up.

Edward said...
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Edward said...

No worries Mr Tips, and thanks for at least hearing us out and for the reasoned response. Believe it or not, I too am against political manipulation of evidence. I became interested in archaeology for various reasons, which included a fascination with the mystery of the past and a wish to try and tease out the facts. Evidence is evidence to me.
As for Sinclair and Universities, yes, we squabble over things all the time but to me that's the beauty of it. Most scholars will happily change their opinions if there is enough evidence. At least I would. Open and honest dialogue can help us all learn. And it is all interesting - I think it will be very rewarding for you to delve into it and get a feel for how and why conclusions are arrived at.

Good luck and nice talking to you.


Thanks also for hearing us out and being willing to look into both perspectives. You're entitled to your opinion about qualifications - I disagree with you, but that's ok - as you say it's the physical evidence which matters, and as I said, it's all laid out in a very methodological manner in the scholarly literature for you to make up your mind on.

I still think with regard to the boulders you speak of, that you are basing your opinion on an unreliable source and have already made up your mind that they have "non-Maori carvings that predate Maori". Who says they are non-Maori or that they predate Maori? I know a girl doing her MA thesis on Maori rock carving at the moment - she explicitly mentions the style and ties it in with similar styles around the Pacific. It's up to you, but I think it's good to think critically about our presuppositions on matters such as this.

Also, I view the idea that not being professional gives you freedom from being biased as actually the reverse. Archaeologists are trained to think critically about our cultural and political biases, and about those of our teachers, as any failure to do so can affect the finer points of the interpretive side of analysis. Hilliam et al. on the other hand, need not and know not how to control for this at all so nothing get filtered through objective eyes.
An example: Doutre claims that there are astrological boulder markers in a field. How does he come to this conclusion? For a start, said boulders lie amongst numerous other boulders in a volcanic field, yet 99% of the other boulders are ignored. Why? Because he is trying to make a meaningful pattern. But why ignore all that other data? Doesn't that bring in a huge sample bias to his analysis? Yes, yes it does. Think of it this way; a sheet of paper is covered in hundreds of black dots, if you already have an idea in your head of the pattern you want to make, say, a cat or a pentagram, then you will and can inevitably make that pattern by connecting certain dots. But that isn't a real pattern because you've just ignored the majority of the other data. This is something someone qualified knows, but which Doutre et al. can't grasp.

I do agree with you that just because someone is in a minority doesn't mean they are automatically wrong. But not knowing what they are talking about or having a grasp of the basics (natural and cultural transformations in the archaeological record for example) is a pretty good indicator that they are wrong.

Edward said...

Your last point is the same one I made in an earlier comment. Science and scholarship change as new evidence comes to light. But your doctor example highlights precisely what I'm talking about: things don't work backwards in science. Doctors aren't about to turn around today and start claiming that stomach ulcers come from acid brought on by stress, that would be a move backwards and a complete and active mode of ignoring all the evidence which has since pointed to the contrary.
The ideas Hilliam and Doutre put forward are in exactly the same situation as the doctors ideas of ulcers 30 years ago. And modern archaeology is in exactly the same position as modern doctors. Doutre and Hilliam's ideas are old. Very old and very outdated. They are not the first people to reissue them and they won't be the last I'm sure. For modern scholars to accept their views is to go backwards and ignore all of the evidence which has accumulated since the 19th century when these ideas had their origins. In short, Hilliam and Doutre might claim they are on to something new, but really all they are doing is regurgitating old spurious ideas.

Anyway, take it or leave it I guess. I am at least confident from discussion with both of you that you will ponder both sides rather than just swallowing whatever the elocal has to say hook line and sinker. And I thank you both for the discussion, and for your honest approach to hearing us out. I find it is beneficial for me as much as I hope it is for you. If I can just suggest searching 'Google Scholar' if you can't get to a library, as it generally is pretty good and is a forum where uncritiqued works don't end up (as you must know, the internet is full of pretty unreliable stuff).

If you have any specific questions I'll try and pop back to answer when I can (if you'd like more of my rambling, though i'm not entirely sure), but otherwise good luck and keep your heads about you with this stuff.



Edward said...

Sorry about my sporadic deleted posts, two people posting at the same time can be messy :)

Lucia Maria said...

Maps and Edward,

Thank you for your contributions to this topic. Very enlightening.


I've had to put a disclaimer at the top of this post. I really don't want the opinion that there is some conspiracy to prevent the true first settlers of NZ from being acknowledged as something promoted by this blog. While there are some subjects I am willing to go out on a limb for - this is not one of them.