Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trotter gets served

At that copious scoop website, John Minto has given Chris Trotter a bit of a serve over his shrill and pompous apologies for police actions over the past fortnight. In the process, Minto gives us an insight into the fantasy world of the Keystone Cops:

I had the experience of sitting through a bail hearing for Rongomai Bailey last week. Despite being arrested on arms charges including being in possession of a Molotov cocktail the police agreed they were unable to produce any evidence he had ever even touched a weapon. They did produce surveillance transcripts of two bugged car journeys (which incidentally are inadmissible on the arms charges). The evidence itself is suppressed but suffice to say there was nothing in even the "juiciest" bits read to court in relation to Rongomai that would not be heard at any gun club in New Zealand on a Saturday afternoon.

I'm sure the police will come up with a few headlines (Jamie Lockett "declaring war on New Zealand" was one) as time passes but I doubt any kind of credible terrorist threat will emerge despite it already being a reality in what seems to be your somewhat fevered imagination.

Minto ventures a tentative explanation for Trotter's support for the police:

People who know you better than me tell me the problem is you are not connected in any meaningful way to any groups active in any particular issues so that your commentary is often theoretical and disconnected from daily struggle. I don't know if this is true but it seems the only explanation that makes any sense to me.

I can't see how this makes any sense. From what I've seen, Chris Trotter's writing is seldom 'disconnected from daily struggle'. The problem is that Trotter's 'daily struggle' is to get his mates in the Labour Party re-elected, and his take on issues tends to reflect this fact.

Next weekend Trotter will be serving up more of his soggy New Labourism as a 'guest' speaker at the party's conference in Takapuna's Bruce Mason Centre. If you want to hear why Tony Blair counts as a lefty (rumour has it that he parts his hair on the left side), why the invasion of Afghanistan was a war of liberation, and why Tame Iti is Hitler, then you'd better start hustling for a delegate's ticket. If you want to be an extremist and stick up for the right to a fair trial and an end to massive and unjustified police raids on Maori communities, then you should give Trotter a miss and join the protesters outside the Centre. Get the details for that protest and other upcoming events, including a three hour Thursday night radio show on the raids, here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Don't blame Tuhoe for underdevelopment

This is an off the cuff response, written in breaks at work, to an article in today's paper which mightily annoyed me. I was going to submit it to the Herald, but as usual I've run past the word limit. Corrections welcomed.

David Garrett’s opinion piece on Tuhoe independence in today's New Zealand Herald typifies the Pakeha ignorance of history which is one of the main causes of racial tension in this country today.

Garrett’s article can be compared to the warnings against Samoan and Cook Island independence that often appeared in papers like the Herald half a century ago. When Cook Islanders and Samoans protested for independence, patronising editorialists and outraged letter-writers would talk of isolation and underdevelopment, and claim that there was no practical alternative to rule from Wellington. Many of the problems of both the Cook Islanders and Samoans had been caused by the racism and self-interest of their ‘guardians’ in Wellington, but that did not stop Pakeha commentators warning that independence would mean disaster.

In much the same way, Garrett believes that an independent Tuhoe state would be incompatible with the modern world. He thinks that Tame Iti and other advocates of Tuhoe independence are naïve romantics, who don’t realise that they only enjoy ‘all the trappings of modern society’ because they were colonised by Pakeha New Zealanders. Many Pakeha Kiwis share Garrett’s views about the tino rangatiratanga movement which seeks greater autonomy for Maori. They think that activists like Tame Iti are childish romantics, who want to return to the Stone Age.

The reality is very different. For one hundred and forty years, Tuhoe have sought autonomy from the New Zealand because the New Zealand state has repeatedly failed to let them develop their resources and make a better standard of living for their people. The Pakeha state has consistently acted as a break on Tuhoe aspirations. The New Zealand state is largely responsible for the underdevelopment, poverty and isolation which Tuhoe suffer from today.

Each of the examples that Garrett uses to try to advance his argument shows his ignorance of this fundamental fact of Tuhoe history.

Garrett claims that a Tuhoe nation would be landlocked, and therefore isolated from the rest of the world. Does he not know that Tuhoe have lived along the central Bay of Plenty coast for many hundreds of years? During the 1860s, the Crown unjustly confiscated vast tracts of this land, and in doing so robbed Tuhoe of much of their economic base. As a result, many of the Tuhoe who live on the lowlands between Whakatane and Opotiki have had to earn a living as casual labourers on Pakeha-owned farms. Today Tuhoe activists seek recompense for the confiscation of their coastal land so that they can rebuild their economy in the coastal part of their rohe.

Garrett warns that, if Tuhoe achieve independence, roads in their rohe will fall into disrepair, and travel on horseback will become ‘a necessity rather than a pleasant novelty’. If Garrett had ever visited Tuhoe Country he would know that travel on horseback is already a necessity in many places, because the New Zealand state has failed utterly to create, let alone maintain, a decent system of roads for the local people. One of the biggest reasons for the underdevelopment of the Tuhoe economy is the refusal of successive generations of Pakeha politicians to build the roads that were needed to transport agricultural produce to markets and bring machinery and building materials into isolated settlements.

The famous Tuhoe leader Rua Kenana spent much of his life in a vain struggle to persuade governments to build roads into the Urewera heartland, where his followers were establishing farms. Even when Rua and his followers donated land for roading and offered to supply free labour for the project they were still often disappointed. Today, the historic Tuhoe settlement under the sacred mountain of Maungapohatu still lacks a proper road connection to the outside world.

Maungapohatu was violently raided in 1916, because the Crown was becoming concerned by the success that Kenana and his followers were having in developing an independent economic base for Tuhoe. Historian Judith Binney has shown how successive governments systematically underfunded Maungapohatu, so that the community went into decline, and eventually completely lost its school and other public services.

Garrett mocks Tuhoe for not developing their Urewera hinterland when he claims they have little except ‘root crops’ to trade with the outside world. He seems to think that Tuhoe backwardness is responsible for the fact that so much of their territory is still covered in bush. But the underdevelopment of inland parts of Tuhoe Country has been caused by the Crown. By the early twentieth century, confiscations and dubious land purchases had created swathes of alienated land deep in the Ureweras, and fragmented Tuhoe holdings. Modern agriculture was difficult in the Tuhoe enclaves, but with the help of Apirana Ngata’s land consolidation and development schemes thriving dairy farms and factories were established at Ruatoki and Waimana. Further development was frustrated, though, by the creation of the huge Urewera National Park on land that Tuhoe claimed as their own. Even on land they still owned, Tuhoe were prohibited from felling trees and opening new areas for farming. They were never compensated for the economic potential they lost to parkland.

When he remarks that ‘Tuhoe are very keen on firearms’ and accuses them of plotting terrorism, Garrett seems to be echoing the argument of certain talk show hosts that Tuhoe are a benighted tribe who will quickly turn to violence if they are allowed autonomy from the New Zealand state and police force. But Tame Iti’s use of the New Zealand flag for short-range target practice a couple of years ago pales into insignificance in comparison with the repeated invasions of Tuhoe country by the Crown in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. In 1869, when Colonel Whitmore brought British justice at the point of a gun, dozens of villages were burned and kumara plots were pulled up wherever they were found, ensuring that many Tuhoe would starve during the coming winter. One of Whitmore’s soldiers remembered hearing the ‘melancholy wailing’ of hungry Tuhoe women and children drifting down from the bush-clad mountains, where they had fled to escape the invaders.

Raiders like Whitmore set the pattern for relations between Tuhoe and the New Zealand state. There is an unbroken thread that runs from the first brutal invasions of the 1860s, through repeated land grabs and the systematic underfunding of Tuhoe communities, to the raid on Ruatoki North two weeks ago. The poverty and isolation that many inhabitants of Tuhoe Country suffer today has been caused by one hundred and forty years of Crown policy, not the failings of Tuhoe. Is it any wonder that many Tuhoe now favour autonomy or complete independence from such a state?

Neither autonomy nor outright independence is a miracle cure for the problems of Tuhoe. There are many questions about what form tino rangatiratanga should take, and many perspectives on the best way to use the resources which Tuhoe seek to regain from the Crown. But the right of the iwi to exercise mana whenua over its own rohe and resources should be supported by Pakeha. Tuhoe can hardly do worse than the governments we have elected.

Monday, October 29, 2007

As the protest movement in defence of the 'Urewera 17' snowballs, a lot of material about Tuhoe history and politics is circulating on the internet. On youtube you can even see out a Spanish-language mini-doc about the Tuhoe people. You can also check this remarkable clip, which puts a reggae beat behind a montage of photographs of the prophet Rua Kenana and the utopian community he founded under the sacred Tuhoe mountain of Maungapohatu, deep in the Ureweras. Many observers have compared the massive police raid on Tuhoe Country two weeks ago to the attack the Crown made on Rua's settlement in 1916.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

March for Freedom

Skyler says:

Today about one thousand people from all walks of life marched in solidarity with the 17 people arrested by armed police on Monday 15 October. We marched for a vision of our country that allows people to protest and hold dissenting views. I for one want to keep free speech alive and well in New Zealand.

I went on this march today to say NO to strengthening the terror laws (which would see the PM given the power to be judge and jury over suspected "terrorists"). I want to see the withdrawal of the Terrorism Suppression Act and its amendments. I marched today to defend all of our civil rights.

I support Tuhoe and their right to self-determination and support the return of their confiscated land. I am saddened that their communities had to put up with a para-military style invasion by the police. I call for bail to be given to the all arrestees and support their right to a fair trial.

I came away from today’s march feeling heartened by the strength of the collaborative will of the people on the march. I hope that we can build on that solidarity & help the arrestees and their families with the struggle ahead. Let's strengthen the opposition to the Terrorism Suppression Act and its amendments. Also, let us not buy in to the climate of fear that the police/SIS/war on terror is trying to instill in this country.

Below's the photo requested in the comments box:

Maps says:

I overheard the following conversation on today's demo:
'Dad, I think I might be anarchist. I might join one of these anarchist groups.'
'Don't join the anarchists son, join the Maoris - they've got better flags.'
Fair enough too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The threat to your civil liberties - and your trousers

The actions of the police in recent days are hard to explain - until we realise that they're desperately upping the stakes, after losing the first round of 'Operation Eight'.

In New Zealand, pressure from the Bush administration in the weeks after 9/11 ensured the passage of a law which gave the police shiny new powers to search, arrest, and prosecute anyone who might even think about committing very vaguely defined 'terrorist acts'.

Over the past few years, and the past eighteen months, especially, the police and the spooks of the SIS appear to have used the 'War on Terror' as an excuse to pursue a vendetta against a few of their old enemies. Pesky Maoris, tree-hugging hippies, annoying peaceniks, and Bolshie trade unionists have all been placed under survellience, in an operation that has cost the police alone a cool eight million dollars - so far. (The SIS has repeatedly had its operating budget increased in recent years, and there's no doubt, after John Key's latest gaffe, that some of that dosh has been blown on 'Operation Eight'.)

The cops have made a mess of 'Operation Eight' over the past week and a half. With those eight million dollars at stake, they went all ninja in Tuhoe Country, smashed their way into activist pads in the big cities, and invited the media along to film the party. Carefully leaked articles in the Sunday papers talked of an 'IRA-style war' by a grand coalition of mokoed Maori, vegan peaceniks, and Save the Snails activists.

Within a few days, though, it was clear that eight million dollars hadn't bought a very good case. At best, the police had a handful of unlicensed guns and some recordings of Tame and a few mates sounding off about George Bush.

Quite frankly, I'd have been much more surprised if the cops managed to find a couple of licensed guns in the Ureweras. And if they want to find folks expressing a desire to see the untimely demise of America's beloved Commander in Chief, all the cops need to do is drop into one of dozens of internet discussion forums on a rainy day, or tune in to talkback radio whenever a right-wing host like Leighton Smith or Michael Laws isn't working the edit button.

Many of the allegations leaked by 'anonymous' sources to the papers made less sense than Graham Henry after that game at Cardiff Arms park. We were told that terrorist cells were 'poised to strike' in the main centres - but police raids and inquiries in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch failed to net anything more deadly than laptop computers.

We were told that Tame Iti had decided six months ago to abandon all his other projects and 'dedicate himself totally' to building Te Qaeda cells in the Ureweras - yet Tame made a well-publicised trip to Fiji only three months ago.

We were told that Labour's Cabinet was briefed about the seriousness of the terrorist threat before 'Operation Eight' began - yet the Maori Affairs Minister has bluntly declared that he doesn't think Tame is a terrorist, and Helen Clark is refusing to endorse police actions. Ross Meurant, the senior cop who regularly found red and brown terrorists under his bed in the '80s and 90s, has rubbished 'Operation Eight' and declared that the police are 'brainwashed' by racism. Coming from the man famous for having the reddest neck in Northland, that's quite a criticism.

We were told that Clark was the target of an assassination plot - yet no special security arrangements were made for her either before or after the arrests, and it is well-known in the activist community that one of the arrestees is a member of Helen's old Princes Street branch of the Labour Party. A few days before the 2005 election, I had a long conversation with another arrestee during which he urged me to use my vote to get a Labour-led government elected. Te Qaeda clearly works in mysterious ways.

In the months after the invasion of Iraq, Bush administration muppets repeatedly told critics to wait patiently for evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and links to Al-Qaeda to be made public. Give us time to complete investigtions, they kept saying. All the evidence will eventually be revealed, they told us. Of course, there was no evidence - if there had been, it would have been rushed onto Fox News faster than a Texan can draw a pistol. The requests for time were stalling tactics, designed to take pressure off Bush.

The same is true of the repeated cries of 'we need more time' that we now hear from the Kiwi police. The cops and the spooks have spent eighteen months and millions of dollars trying to nail a terrorist army in the Ureweras, and they've failed - not because they haven't had the time and resources, but because there was and is no terrorist army in the Ureweras. As Maori protest against the antics of police ninjas in Tuhoe Country and activists and high-profile lawyers get behind the arrestees in the big cities, the police are under mounting pressure.

Rather than admit they have blundered, though, the cops are playing double or nothing. By locking the media out of court, opposing bail for trivial firearms charges, leaking vague but lurid inventions to the more excitable papers, and attacking those who criticise them as apologists for terrorists and - bizarrely - P addiction, the cops are trying to buy time and put off the terrible day when they have to return to the real world and admit that Tame Iti is not some Tuhoe Osama.

The police are also lashing out, blindly and in vain, against more and more ordinary New Zalanders, in a desperate attempt to uncover evidence for what does not exist. Last week they followed up their raids on Tuhoe country and activist hangouts in the main centres with a series of house calls on such grave threats to national security as a banking analyst, a group of Maori musicians, an elderly, apolitical man who happened to have a Tuhoe son-in-law, and a middle-aged couple who raise chickens in Taupo. More windows have been broken, more laptops have been confiscated, and more knickers have been sniffed, but those ground to air missile launchers and napalm bombs have remained frustratingly elusive.

The police appear to be responding to these setbacks with a clever little manoeuvre. Since they can't find anything that fits the Oxford English Dictionary understanding of 'weapon', they've created their own definition, and put it to use. That, at least, is the way I interpret the raid the police made on veteran trade unionist and socialist Jimmy O'Dea today. Jimmy O'Dea is well-known for helping to organise trade union support for the epic and ultimately victorious Maori campaign to win back Bastion Point. O'Dea was instrumental in getting Auckland's workers to go on strike in protest at the decision of the Muldoon government to use the army to break up the occupation in 1978. Presumably that's enough to make him an honourary member of Te Qaeda.

O'Dea, who is now seventy years old and in poor health, found himself confronted by eight - that's right, he counted 'em, eight - carloads of police demanding to see his 'hunting knives and trousers'. It's not clear yet whether Jimmy got to keep his pants on, or whether the cops took the weapon away for safe keeping, along with the 'evidence' they pulled out of knickers' draws last week.

I believe that public opinion is turning against the police, and that 'Operation Eight' will eventually be exposed as a very expensive exercise in conspiracy theory politics. The police have gone for double or nothing, and they will end up with nothing. When that happens, I'll have a good laugh at our local Keystone Cops.

I can't laugh yet, though, because sixteen arrestees are still sitting in prison cells. Like many of you, I suspect, I know some of these victims of 'Operation Eight'. I'll be taking part in the Global Day of Action against this coming Saturday. If you're in Auckland, the event gets under away at noon, in Aotea Square. If you can't make it on Saturday, then flick some cash toward the Civil Rights Defence Committee, which is doing a fine job of defending all of us against the police.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Here are some photos (click to enlarge 'em) from the recent jaunt to the East Coast. Thanks to Ivan and Amy for letting me (and Skyler) stink out their bach at Onepoto Bay... The shadow of the massive and unjustified police raid on Ruatoki North and the arrests of activists in other parts of the country hung over our trip. Detouring through Tuhoe Country, we tried to get a good photo of Taneatua Squash Club, the centre of 'Operation 8', but we were - how should I put this? - persuaded to leave the vicinity hastily by one of the cops swarming about the place.

There was huge anger about police actions in Tuhoe Country, and Bay of Plenty rags like the Whakatane Beacon - hardly bastions of radicalism, I can tell you - were openly scornful of claims in some of the big city media that a 'Te Qaeda' cell was operating in the Ureweras. Check out indymedia for the latest on the whole tragicomic affair, which is now prompting protests as far afield as Germany and Greece.

Over the last week Pakeha up and down the country have been getting a crash course in Tuhoe history, but the teachers haven't always been entirely reliable. A lot of newspapers have mentioned that the repreated invasions of the Ureweras between 1865-1872 were prompted by the shelter the Tuhoe gave to anti-colonial fighters Kereopa Te Rau and Te Kooti, who carried out notorious attacks in Opotiki and Gisborne respectively before fleeing to the Ureweras. Few, though, have explained the circumstances behind the actions of either man. Kereopa is notorious for gouging out the eyes of Opotiki Minister and government spy Carl Volkner, but few people know that his sister and mother had just been murdered by British troops in the Waikato. Te Kooti is well-known for killing seventy people in cold blood a few hundred kilometres round the coast, but few of those who condemn him retrospectively realise that his victims included people who had killed his kin, stolen his land, and sent him to exile on Chatham Island.

Volkner gets a fairly easy ride on the memorial stone at the back of the church he built and died in; about fifty kilometres east of Opotiki, Te Kooti is inadequately remembered by a sign on the edge of Ohiwa Harbour. At the end of a long gravel road one finds Wainui marae, Te Kooti's last home and his likely burial place. Across the road from Volkner's old church is the swanky new Opotiki museum building. I had a long chat with one of the volunteers - they're all volunteers - who have the job of moving thousands of artefacts ranging from greenstone mere to rusty scythes to wartime ration books out of storage into the three storey, purpose-built premises. She wanted to pick my brains, because I've been working in the museum up to Auckland, but I thought I had more to learn from her. Onepoto Bay is the name for the eastern end of Wharekahika, which Europeans renamed Hicks Bay, after a bloke on Captain Cook's boat The Endeavour. The local people belong to Te Whanau a Tapaeururangi, one of about thirty subgroups of the 60,000-strong Ngati Porou iwi.

The hills around Hicks Bay, and around the East Cape area in general, were formed millions of years ago, on the bottom of the sea, before being pushed upwards by colliding tectonic plates. If that sounds a bit dull, you could try the traditional Maori explanation, which has the trickster God Maui fishing the Cape and the rest of the North Island out of the sea. Whatever the reason, the East Cape is a place of strangely shaped rocks and cliff-faces studded with the fossils of extinct sea creatures.

The region boasts a microclimate, as well as a unique geology - it's frost-free all year round, and tropical fruits like bananas and paw paw grow to a sizes unparalleled in many parts of Northland, let alone the rest of New Zealand.
Hicks Bay and the nearby settlement of Te Araroa are divided by the Te Koau peninsula, which is made almost enirely of limestone and riddled with caves. Te Koau means 'the shag', and a legend says that one of the most spectacular rock formations on the peninsula (I only got half of it in my photo) gets its shape from the bird which Maui sent from his canoe to explore the island he had just fished up. The poor thing got its wing caught, then turned to stone. Another legend says that a fearsome dog lives deep in Te Kuri, one of the many caves on Te Koau that was used for burials. Te Kuri is a vertical cave, and a howling sound can sometimes be heard coming from its depths. I certainly heard something, when I found the entrance to the cave. Even if it is just the wind you hear, you'd be a fool to go any closer than that entrance. If you don't break your neck, you're sure to break a tapu. Local historians say that John Cassidy (Katete, in Maori), an American trader who was one of the first non-Maori to settle in Onepoto Bay, suffered a lingering death from a strange disease because he violated tapu in the area.

At the western end of Hicks Bay, the Matakaoa peninsula and the peak called Patanga form the ancient boundary between Ngati Porou and their sometime rivals Te Whanau A Apanui. Matakaoa is covered in pa sites - the best-known of them sits above the Hicks Bay wharf, and is called Makeronia, which is Maori for Macedonia (no, I don't know why either...)

Makeronia is a 'modern' pa, which means it was built with guns and artillery bombardments in mind. It was the northern tribe Nga Puhi, led by the notorious raider Hongi Hika, who first brought the gun to the East Cape region. When Hongi's canoes put ashore and his warriors opened fire, Ngati Porou's young men ran into the bush, broke sticks off the trees, and ran back to aim them at the northerners. When Hongi and his comrades didn't keel over, the men with sticks realised that their mana wasn't powerful enough, and ran way to hide.

Ngati Porou soon got the hang of the new technology, and turned their economy upside down to produce the cash crops and trinkets that European traders would swap for real firesticks. Like many other iwi in the nineteenth century, they created a mode of production that utilised elements of a market economy yet retained non-capitalist features like the use of collective labour and the communal ownership of most land.

Not even Hongi Hika and his taua could take the pa at the top of Whetumatarau, which is the hill which rises behind Te Araroa. It looks more than a little like Table Mountain in Cape Town, and its almost vertical, fossil-studded slopes became especially tricky to climb when the local people rolled boulders down them.

A lot of people think of the East Coast as an isolated, virgin place, but early last century it was riding a dairying boom, and tipped to become one of the powerhouses of the Kiwi economy. Poor roads and good prices led to the creation of impressive slaughterhouses, co-op shops, and wharves in bay after bay. Many of the farmers were Ngati Porou. But the steep, erosion-prone hills of the East Coast wouldn't support dairying for longing, and neither could the banks which held the mortgages on farms. Before it went into decline, the East Coast dairying sector did manage to inspire the land consolidation and development schemes implemented on a national scale by the great Maori leader Apirana Ngata (he's the bloke on the fifty dollar note).

Today decaying wharves, co-op stores and slaughterhouses can be found up and down the coast. The slaughterhouses, which have usually lost one or more walls and been colonised by moss and epiphytes, look like nothing so much as ruined abbeys.

Ngata, whose was born at Te Aaroa, was an ethnographer and cultural activist as much as a politician. He helped to revive the traditional art of carving, and presided over the building of new wharenui (meeting houses) on dozens of marae.

The church at Tikitiki, about thirty kilometres to the east of Hicks Bay, was built under Ngata's supervision to commemorate the (pointless) sacrifices of young Ngati Porou soldiers in Europe and Turkey during the First World War; it combines carving in the distinctively rounded, flat Ngati Porou style with European imagery and designs. I wish those young Ngati Porou men had sat the war out, like the Waikato and Tuhoe did.

I'm not sure whether it's ironic or fitting that Hongi Hika's depredations led, in a few years, to the conversion of the East Cape to Christianity. Some of the slaves he took north learned about the new creed from missionaries in the Bay of Islands; when they were freed and returned home in the early 1830s they brought the Bible with them.

In the 1860s a new type of missionary arrived to promote the Pai Marire doctrine, which blended Christianity, traditional beliefs and fierce anti-colonial rhetoric. The 'hauhaus', as the adherants of the new religion were called, ended up fighting a brief Ngati Porou civil war against pro-British Anglicans based at Makeronia, amongst other places. With the help of the government and Pakeha volunteers from Opotiki and Gisborne, the loyalists emerged triumphant.

The Pakeha government announced its intention to confiscate large areas of Ngati Porou land as 'punishment' for the disloyalty of the hauhaus, but the loyalists threatened to turn the guns they had been given to fight the hauhaus against Pakeha troops and settlers, and the land remained largely in their hands. The defeated hauhaus had to renounce their faith, but nobody seemed to mind when many of them became followers of Te Kooti's new Ringatu movement, and - a decade or so later - of the Mormon Church, which still has a strong presence on the East Coast today.

Another nineteenth century conflict eventually mellowed, too. After the end of World War One, Apirana Ngata arranged for work brigades composed of Nga Puhi vets to come to Hicks Bay to cut down bush and break in new farms. At first Hongi's descendants got into regular scraps with their unwilling hosts, but eventually the wily Ngata had his way, and the two groups buried the hatchet and began to intermarry. Mt Hikurangi is the highest point in the eastern part of the North Island, the first part of either of the two main islands of New Zealand to see the dawn, and an important regional symbol for both Maori and Pakeha East Coasters. Ngati Porou legend says that Hikurangi was the first part of North Island that Maui pulled out of the sea, and that the God abandoned his boat somewhere on the mountain. (Perhaps those Christian fundies who keep hunting for bits of the Ark on Mt Ararat would have better luck looking for Maui's waka?) A Ngati Porou subtribe called Ngati Uepohatu lives at the bottom of Hikurangi, and claims direct descent from Maui.

Alas, I still haven't made it to the East Cape lighthouse, and several other iconic spots on the Coast, and we don't have any photos of Tolaga Inn, one of the grandest old run-down pubs in New Zealand, because we were too busy drinking and losing to the locals at pool. Next time...