Justin Taua: Maori must confront racist pseudo-history
Pseudo-historians like Doutre and Bolton hold openly racist views - Bolton is New Zealand's most famous neo-Nazi, and in an infamous debate at the Scoop Review of Books last year Doutre admitted to being a Holocaust denier and an admirer of the British neo-Nazi David Irving - and yet they also claim that their bizarre views about New Zealand prehistory are supported by many Maori.
As Matthew Dentith has noted, the pseudo-historians and their publishers have failed ever to produce a single Maori scholar who shares their ideas. This is hardly surprising, given that the myth of an ancient white race of New Zealanders is intended to deprive Maori of their status as tangata whenua and to denigrate their cultural achievements by claiming that taonga like waka and carved meeting houses were actually created by whites.
The recent controversy over Noel Hilliam's activities in the northern Kaipara region has shown what Maori really think of the pseudo-historians. Hilliam's looting of prehistoric grave sites in the Kaipara region and his misrepresenation of an ancient Maori carving in Dargaville museum have been condemned by Te Uri o Hau, the tangata whenua of the northern Kaipara, as attacks on their history and culture. After complaints from Te Uri o Hau and also from outsiders like myself, Dargaville museum has distanced itself from Hilliam, and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust has opened an investigation into his visits to prehistoric grave sites.
Now the veteran trade unionist and Maori rights activist Justin Taua has aimed his fire at the pseudo-historians. Justin comes from Tuakau, a small town just south of Pukekohe in the central Franklin District, where he is well-known for the roles he has played in the National Distribution Union and, more recently, in the Maori Party. Justin is known outside Franklin for his involvement over the years in causes like the anti-war movement, the foreshore and seabed hikoi, and the campaign for an inquiry into the death of Stephen Wallace. Justin has spoken at political meetings and demonstrations in many parts of New Zealand, and in 2006 he was invited to South America to meet trade unionists and indigenous rights activists there.
Justin is well aware of the long history of racism that Maori and other minorities have suffered in central Franklin. In the 1850s and early 1860s, the area sat on the boundary between the independent Waikato Kingdom and the settler state based in Auckland; in the aftermath of the invasion and conquest of the Waikato, many of Justin's ancestors had their land confiscated by the victorious settler state.
Some Maori land escaped confiscation, and in the early twentieth century the lower Waikato and central and western Franklin became a base for the attempts of Waikato leaders like Princess Te Puea to revive the fortunes of their people. Some of the first collective farms Te Puea established were in Franklin, and in the interwar years a string of marae were opened in the area, often in the face of Pakeha opposition. Justin's Nga Tau E Rua marae in Tuakau was opened by Te Puea herself, and was a symbol of the determination of Maori to retain their cultural identity.
Many of the Maori who had their land confiscated after the 1863-64 war became casual labourers in the market gardens which flourished on the volcanic soil around Pukekohe. The first postwar market gardens were run by Pakeha, but in the early decades of the twentieth century many Indian and Chinese immigrants began to plant crops like potatoes and onions on small plots of rented land around Pukekohe. Many of them employed Maori, and intermarriage between the two groups became relatively common.
The legacy of the Waikato war and the arrival of relatively large numbers of non-European immigrants both helped to make Pukekohe a stronghold of organised racism. In a fascinating but depressing essay published in the New Zealand Journal of History in 1985, Jacqueline Leckie described how the White New Zealand League was founded in Pukekohe in the 1920s to campaign for the deportation of 'aliens' and the 'purity' of the white race. The League attracted hundeds of members, and even won the support of some trade unions. In a recent comment at this blog, Leckie's fellow historian Mark Derby noted that even as late as the 1950s Pukekohe's movie theatre had segregated seating, and that barbers in the town centre were for a long time known to refuse to cut the hair of Maori and Indians.
Given this history, it is perhaps not surprising that the Franklin E Local, a publication based in Pukekohe, has emerged in the last year as the champion of the racist theories of the likes of Martin Doutre and Noel Hilliam.
In an article which has appeared in the Maori Party publication Nga Motu News and which is being circulated at party meetings, Justin Taua urges Maori to confront the Franklin E Local and other sources of racist pseudo-history in twenty-first century New Zealand. He invites readers of his text, which Ive reproduced below, to pass it on to friends and contacts.
Franklin E Local Sham
Since September 2008, ‘Franklin E Local’ which is a free monthly giveaway distributed in the Franklin District of Counties Manukau, has been waging a racist campaign designed to undermine Maori history and political determination in Aotearoa.
‘E Local’ issues from Sept 08, Oct 08, Nov 08, Jan 09 and Feb 09, all contain ‘pre-Maori New Zealand’ articles. The October 09 issue features a promo promising a continuation of the ‘hit’ series ‘pre-Maori New Zealand’ in the next E Local issue for Nov 09. In the September 08 issue, a feature article entitled ‘Who walked New Zealand pre-Maori’ contained fanciful accounts of a Celtic occupation of Aotearoa pre-Maori. It is presumed that the feature article was written by none other than ‘Franklin E Local’ editor Mykeljon Winckel. Ironically an item on Miss Teen NZ 2008 Kahurangi Taylor who features on the front cover of the same issue, serves to cover as an antidote the shambolic rantings of the E Local editor. Similarly an article in the May 09 issue on Ngati Tahinga Kaumatua Mina Whare, served the same purpose.
The bash the hell out of Maori and then sooth their feelings approach is a tactic all too common by racists who like to dish up the old ‘some of my best friends are Maori’ bullshit. E Local as part of its community good-cop PR last year, launched a book called 'Franklin and its people 2008' to cynically enhance and give legitimacy to the extreme right-wing views of its editor.
Conspiracist magazines such as ‘Nexus’ follow a similar Pattern to ‘E Local’ by inserting legitimate articles next to crap about UFOs with the idea of transferring the legitimacy to the UFOs.
The lack of response from Maori and their organisations from within the rohe (area) where E Local is distributed is of major concern. For more than a year, E Local editor Mykeljon Winckel has been promoting the fantasist writings and theories of Martin Doutre author of ‘Ancient Celtic New Zealand'. At present, publications by Doutre (a self-confessed Holocaust denier and white supremacist) are available in public libraries including those in Franklin District. And they are not in the ‘Fiction’ section either.
Supporting Doutre in his endeavour to rewrite Maori and New Zealand history are the former curator of the Dargaville Maritime Museum Noel Hilliam and New Age archaeologist Barry Brailsford who invented the ‘Kaimanawa stone wall’ made by ancient Celts. Add to the mix disgruntled Kaipara farmer Allan Titford (who got screwed by the Crown not Te Roroa) and the proto-Fascist ‘One New Zealand Foundation’, and you have all the ingredients to fuel the lies promoted with relish by Mykeljon Winckel.
Doutre and his gutless mates contemptuously brush off all challenges put to them by university specialists in New Zealand history and archaeology. The consensus among the academics is that Doutre and his revisionists are a political phenomenon rooted in an international white backlash and Aryan Neo-Nazi racism.
Doutre maintains that there is a conspiracy led by Maori-friendly academics to silence the real history of New Zealand. Judging by the attendances at local community halls up and down the country where he and his followers speak, there seems to be a receptive audience among New Zealanders needing to re-enforce their own prejudices.
But more importantly, where are the voices from Maori, from Tangata Whenua in challenging these criminals? Are we so disconnected from what is happening around us? The fact that Franklin E Local is being peddled within the rohe bounded by Te Puaha O Waikato in the south and Te Maanuka in the north should be a wakeup call for all people not just the haukainga.
Maori academia and Iwi media in all spheres including the internet are deafening by their silence. Maori Television which produces by far the best current affairs and political content in NZ has been left wanting. Standard diet politics seems to be the order of the day. Destructive nutcases like Doutre don’t even warrant enquiry or get a roasting.
In May TVNZ's ‘Close-up’ did an extremely light-hearted story on Martin Doutre and some odd looking boulders on the North Shore. In the end, it left the viewer no more enlightened than before. It’s too early to make a direct association with the rantings of Doutre and the role of the embedded mainstream media, but on May 6, in a New Zealand Herald piece written by Wayne Thompson, Doutre and his assistant Russell Ireland were able to promote the issue of the North Shore boulders. At the very end of the article, a legitimate account of how the boulders came into being was given by a Geological Society spokesman, but not before Doutre was able to plant the perception in the mind of the reader of a pre-Maori people's connection to the boulders. His mission was accomplished.
As mainstream corporate media tightens its noose, dumbing down content and becoming ever more conservative, the rightward shift begins to incrementally accommodate the views of the more extreme right-wing. So called community publications such as Franklin E Local with Mykeljon Winckel at the helm, serve to accommodate that process dressed up in a different disguise.
Open your eyes and look at those back issues of Franklin E Local that you have tucked away somewhere and decide for yourselves what the next move is going to be as individuals, communities and work sites. That challenge goes out to all Marae, Iwi organisations, trade unions and political groupings worth their salt.
Important reference material can be found at Blog site http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2009/01/pseudo-history-countering-cranks.html This contains many up to date features on topics that are enlightening in their form and content. Scroll down and you’ll find material directly related to the topic at hand and many others of interest.
Karuwhero Kahui no Paakau Marae, Te Puaha O Waikato
Ngati Tiipa me Ngati Tahinga me Ngati Reko