Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fletch Mining, Indigenous Peoples, and the Foreshore

I see that the National Government has, according to Guyon Espiner, done a huge back down on the issue of mining in New Zealand, but is it just a diversionary tactic? Hide the pea under the other shell while they distract you with something else. In this case could the mining backdown could be seen as the magician's "beautiful girl assistant" (I say that because of a scene I remember from TV show 'The Mentalist')

Patrick Jane: I was thinking: why do magicians have beautiful girl assistants? 
Dr. Linus Wagner: Why? 
Patrick Jane: Because they're reliable distracters of attention. People will look at a beautiful girl for a long time before they look where they should be looking if they want to see how the trick really works.
In a magazine article, Dr Muriel Newman thinks that perhaps we should have been looking at what was going on in the other hand -
[A high profile diversion] was the tactic National used with the foreshore and seabed review, which was timed to coincide with the highly controversial mining review. As was to be expected, the mining review totally swamped media commentary, even though the mining proposal was targeting 7,000 hectares, while the government’s plans for the jewel in New Zealand’s crown - the foreshore and seabed - covers 10 million hectares and includes resources worth tens of billions of dollars.
Newman also comments on the signing of the UN's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and how the National Party has invited the UN’s special rapporteur to come back to New Zealand for some back-slapping. She points out an open letter in the Dominion Post last month by Chris Trotter to National (which I must have missed but which can be read HERE)  -
Interestingly, political commentator Chris Trotter, in an open letter to National Party members published in the Dominion Post last month, picked up on this theme, warning that moves to embrace Maori extremism that were afoot deep within the party organisation, could prove disastrous for National. He explained how in the 1980s radical Maori nationalists - led by the Harawira family - took over New Zealand’s most popular overseas aid charity, Corso, leading to its eventual demise. He went on to say, “If you, the members of the National Party, do not rouse yourselves, then your own, once proud, political brand will suffer the same fate as Corso's. Already, ideological extremism has driven thousands of your members out of the party. And now those same extremists, working hand-in-glove with radical Maori nationalists, are getting ready to tip both your government and your dramatically restructured party organisation into the same death spiral that destroyed Corso.”
As regards "indigenous peoples", law lecturer and Treaty expert David Round explains - 

There is, in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, one very surprising omission. Nowhere is there any definition of who or what exactly an indigenous person is. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that someone or something indigenous is ‘born or produced naturally in a land or region; native to that soil, region’. In that sense, all native-born New Zealanders are indigenous. We may speak a language and have a culture that developed elsewhere; but so did the first Maori when they arrived from the Hawaiki they still remember. On the other hand, if ‘indigenous’ is used to refer to a people whose ancestors have lived in a place from time immemorial, then New Zealand has no indigenous inhabitants.”
Newman goes on to point out what I have posted on before; that there were other peoples here before Maori -
Archaeologists agree that humans first settled in New Zealand well over 1,000 years before the main Maori migration, which is estimated to have arrived around 1200 AD. Their evidence is based on the exhaustive forensic examination of historic plant and animal remains. They believe that the settlement of New Zealand was most likely a continuous process, a view that is certainly consistent with early settler journal accounts (from the proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand) which indicate that not only did Moriori precede Maori, but that when they arrived in the Chatham Islands, “they found the country in the possession of aboriginal natives called Hiti”- inhabitants of the “Flint age”, who used not stone, but “chips of obsidian as cutting implements.” There is also strong evidence of an early presence of people of Celtic and Chinese ancestry as well as Greek, French, Portuguese, Spanish and others - in addition to settlers of Polynesian descent.
It should be noted here, this has also been proved as far as ash layer testing and the bones of rats brought to NZ, and this view was taken by the Archaeological Association Conference in 2002, as mentioned in this online article 'Academics Agree to Pre 1350AD NZ Settlement

Despite the clear evidence, some archaeologists did not want to accept the story the bones told: that the accepted theory of human settlement in New Zealand from AD1200-1300 was incorrect. The method of ash layer dating was vigorously attacked, but intensive retesting found it to be sound. A vote at the 2002 Archaeological Association Conference was split – 27 voted for and 24 against early human arrival. There was eventually a majority consensus that humans had brought the rats to New Zealand in 100AD, but didn’t stay.
So, if there are no clear indigenous peoples, I do not like the road of division that the Government seems intent on taking New Zealand down.

6 comment(s):

Gooner said...

Fletch, very perceptive.

The three things to keep an eye on are these:

Waikato River Act (giving veto to Maori for use of water)

These are festering sores, and are certainly cans of worms. During the Waikato River debate, the Act Party was opposing it all the way and Tariana Turia was heard to mutter "Wanganui River is next".

David Winter said...


The dates used to support the "long chronology" very likely arose from errors in the C14 dating (probably in the way the samples were handled, but possibly down to the the biology of the rats). You can read about a re-dating study here , but the smoking gun is that the inferred age of the bones is more dependant on when they were dated then where they came from or which stratigraphic layer they were from. Given all samples were dated in the same lab it seems very much like a bias in the way the samples were handled pre 1996 or so produced the odd resutls.

Moreover, support for the "short chronology" model comes from all quarters. There are no seeds with mamalliam gnaw marks older than about 1250 AD. If the NZ was settled in 100 AD then the settlers couldn't have come from East Polynesia (settled about 800AD) and there really weren't any other maritime civilizations around at the time that could have settled NZ without covering most of the Pacific first. The early chronology model predicts a relatively large founding population (based on genetic data from modern Maori) and that's consistent with what we know about continued exchange between NZ and the pacific (NZ obsidian on the kermadecs, multiple rat lineages in New Zealand...). Widespread deforestation doesn't start till about 1250.

And so on it goes. None of those points by themselves represent a knock out blow to the old chronology model. But taken together they form a consilience: New Zealand was first settled about 800 years ago by the ancestors of modern Maori.

I.M Fletcher said...

David, I just think that there is too much evidence out there, a lot of it which the general public does not know, including the excavation of the "stone city" in the Waipoua Forest, which cost the taxpayer half a million dollars in the 80s and which the general public was turned away from seeing.

But most of the people of New Zealand do not know what was found in Waipoua Forest over the three year investigation, at a cost to the taxpayer then of $500,000. The detailed mapping and notes of the complex of stone walls, hearths, stone structures defined as altars by the archaeologists, incised obelisks, petroglyphs (rock carvings), standing stone circles, circular stone mounds and stone-lined waterways were instead sent away to remain hidden under a 75 year embargo, restricted until 2063. In 1988, archaeological records on the Waipoua Forest excavations were transferred from Kaikohe to the National Archives in Auckland. The Transfer of Archives form states: “Prior consultation requires approval of the Te Roroa-Waipoua Archaeological Advisory committee or other appropriate subsequent Te Roroa authority.”

It was like pulling teeth trying to get the results access to the results of the studies done there, but eventually they did, including the dating of material in a midden dump there to 950, plus or minus 50. (see report)

There's something fishy about having the results embargoed until 2063 as well (see agreement incl embargo clause hand-written).

There is just too much evidence, including that emailed in by readers to the magazine talking about stories their grandparents passed down like this one -

Rea Anderson of Pukekohe is of Ngati Tipa descent. Her family lived at Port Waikato for several generations. Now almost 70, Rea was raised by her grandmother Te Rewanga Wi Putini Kahui, known as Rewa. “She told me there was a very tall Pakeha race living at Port Waikato long before Maori. They were very fair. She had been told about them by her father and her grandfather. I met an old lady from the Chatham Islands. She told me how Maori sailed from Taranaki to the Chathams and killed the people. She said they were Moriori and she was of their descent. When she was a girl, she and her grandmother walked along the shore of the harbour and saw bodies that had been thrown in the water, uncovered in the sand. They buried them. Her grandmother told her that they were a tall, fair haired people, that they were there before the Maori. She said “my people didn’t fight. They were slaughtered.”

The general man in the street doesn't have a reason to lie. There is just so much evidence left behind of the early settlers that were here before Maori.

As I said earlier, the Archaeological Association made it's decision in 2002 that there were humans here before Maori.

David Winter said...

As I said earlier, the Archaeological Association made it's decision in 2002 that there were humans here before Maori.

No they didn't. Some people supported the idea that Maori have been in NZ for a long time. Others didn't.

The celtic stuff is, I'm afraid, considered a respectably hypothesis by professionals

David Winter said...

You probably worked it out, but that should is "...not considered a respectable..."

David Winter said...

Hi all,

Finally got around to writing a post on this, trying to contrast the levels of evidence and argument used by real archeologists and these "alternative" types.

I see it's in the backlinks down there, so check it out if you like

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