The mystery of the disappearing website
I suggested that Hawarden was almost certainly the creator of the Wairau Bar Mystery website, which castigated the reburial and accused the Rangitane of being 'thieves' for claiming ownership of the ancient bones. Although the Wairau Bar Mystery site had refused to identify its author, it was easy to note stylistic similarities between the prose on the site and the denunciations of the reburial that Hawarden had placed under her own name on discussion forums elsewhere in cyberspace. A visitor to this blog pointed out that the Wairau Bar Mystery was registered in the name of a 'Judy Neall' of Riccarton, but that name has never been associated with debates about New Zealand's prehistory, and a certain Rosanne Hawarden just happens to live in Riccarton.
Last night a commenter calling herself Sandy Lai Wing made an angry intervention in the discussion about Rosanne Hawarden's ideas. Sandy wondered whether I might be the same person as Keri Hulme, but I think it is rather more likely that she is the same person as Rosanne Hawarden. Sandy's prose certainly resembles Rosanne's - note, in particular, the way that periods go missing and sentences run into each other, as the writer gets more and more indignant - and the very involved (and quite irrelevant) details she gives of Rosanne's career and the ethnic makeup of the SINZASA group Rosanne leads also make me suspicious.
A few minutes after Sandy vented her frustrations, an anonymous comment appeared underneath the post I made a couple of weeks ago about Bill Keir's criticism of the Celtic New Zealand circle. This comment had all the hallmarks of the Rosanne Hawarden style, and it also recapitulated one of the most curious arguments on the Wairau Bay Mystery website:
There is plenty of evidence to show Maori (which is only a name used after whites appeared) were not first in New Zealand, however ignoring all that argument If Maori truly were first please provide evidence of how they sailed to South America and returned with kumara when not one canoe has ever been found with South American wood. No wooden boat could travel so far without being repaired. If Maori history so right and others so wrong I wonder why not one jot of evidence has ever been produced to prove they made such trips.
The author of the Wairau Bay site had claimed that the question of how and when the Polynesian ancestors of the Maori reached New Zealand was unresolved, because no physical remains of any of the waka that supposedly made the journey had been located. I find this line of argument odd, because it seems to imply that the remains of thousand-year old waka should be lying around New Zealand, and because it assumes that no other form of evidence can take the place of such remains. All of the archaeologists, botanists, and biologists who have been digging up camp sites, testing pollen spores to see when forests were first cleared, and carbon dating rat bones have evidently been wasting their time.
If we followed the logic of this strange argument, then we would have to reject the notion that the Aborigines settled Australia first, because no traces of the craft they used to cross the Timor Strait remain. We would have to abandon the idea that the Vikings discovered Iceland, or settled on Greenland, because none of the longboats which made those journeys have survived.
The idea that the Polynesians reached South America was once controversial, but in recent years researchers based in the University of Auckland have studied a series of bones discovered in Chilean caves, and found that they belonged to a Polynesian chicken. Their findings have been hailed around the world as very strong evidence for Polynesian journeys to South America. Not many archaeologists or historians have been worried by the absence of the waka that made those journeys. Of course, arguments that the ancestors of the Maori did not reach New Zealand first, and did not reach New Zealand on waka, suit Rosanne Hawarden's worldview rather well. As I noted on Tuesday, Hawarden is a follower of Gavin Menzies, the bestselling pseudo-historian who claims that Chinese sailors discovered New Zealand on their way back from Antarctica in the fifteenth century. Menzies has proclaimed that 'Maori don't exist', and that the ancestors of the people who call themselves Maori were Melanesian slaves who were being transported on a junk when they rebelled against their Chinese masters, took Chinese concubines as mates, and settled in New Zealand. No epic waka journeys were necessary.
This morning I typed the URL for the Wairau Bar Mystery onto my computer, so that I could take a closer look at the similarities between the arguments on the site and the comments which have been appearing here. Strangely enough, though, the Wairau Bay Mystery seems to have disappeared from cyberspace. Perhaps 'Judy Neall' decided that the site revealed a bit too much about its author.