Have taggers joined the conspiracy?
Just north of the petrol station and Autobahn cafe which mark the highest point in the southern motorway's gentle ascent of the Bombays, several volcanic rocks of varying sizes sit near the traffic, protected by a bank and by one of those fences of gnarled and lichenized wood which still subdivide much of New Zealand's countryside.
In the Bombay Hills and in the nearby Drury Hills volcanic rocks are a less than remarkable sight. Several local volcanoes shot rocks into the air for tens of thousands of years, before being decommissioned by erosion. There must have been quite a fireworks display for the Haast eagle and the huia to behold.
Today the hills on Auckland's southern border are frequently raided by amateur landscape gardeners. I remember being forced to help my father haul a few of them into the boot and back seat of our car, and then to unload them again at the bottom of our yard, where they were supposed to provide some companionship to a few struggling shrubs. Few of the motorists who pass the rocks near the Bombay Hills service station would give the objects a second look. They are not even particularly large, by local standards.
For a pseudo-scholar who has been an occasional subject of this blog, though, the handful of rocks on the wrong side of that scruffy fence are the 'Bombay Obelisk', the southernmost component of an incredibly intricate network of monuments established millenia ago by a lost civilisation of superhuman white people. In his self-published book Ancient Celtic New Zealand and at the website of the same name, self-proclaimed 'astro-archaeologist' Martin Doutre provides numerous rather inscrutable diagrams in an effort to show how a series of sets of stones at various Auckland locations, from Silverdale in the north to Maungawhau and One Tree Hill on the isthmus to the Bombays in the south, were all part of the network, which has itself has parrallels in other regions of the country. According to Doutre, the ancient super-Celts used the 'Bombay Obelisk' and similar constructions to make astronomical observations and to survey their lands. (Not all of the piles of stones on our hills are the remains of observatories, though: according to Doutre, some of them are the ruins of ancient storehouses raised by the super-Celts.)
On one of the many strange pages of his website, Doutre explains that it was an 'English antiquarian' named Stuart Mason who first noticed the significance of the 'obelisk'. Doutre assures us that the obelisk has since been solemnly inspected and 'tested' by the extravagantly-bearded 'engineer/Druid' Barry Taylor.
In an admirably patient examination of Doutre's 'astro-archaeology' published on the New Zealand Skeptics website, David Riddell finds no evidence that the 'observatories' discussed so excitedly in Ancient Celtic New Zealand are any more than chance collections of stones. Riddell is puzzled by the 'geomancer's mile', the unit of measurement which Doutre uses to connect the sites he has 'discovered' across Auckland and New Zealand:
...how well recognised is this unit, the Geomancer's mile? A quick Google search turned up precisely two pages which use the term -- both of them on the Celtic New Zealand site. Yahoo! did slightly better, locating another site, www.gnostics.com, which uses the term...
Besides finding Doutre's surveying skills wanting and his mathematics kooky, Riddell is struck by certain basic implausibilities in the tale of ancient Celtic New Zealand:
Perhaps the biggest problem with the Celtic New Zealand scenario is that so much alleged evidence for it is tied up with the supposed surveying network. Apart from this, the "pre-Celts" seem to have left little trace of themselves. It's as if our entire civilisation had vanished and left nothing but trig stations, survey pegs, the Linz offices, and a few astronomical observatories. If there really had been a vibrant, mathematically sophisticated population living here for 4000 years, there would be more evidence of their former presence. And would they have been so easily vanquished by a few boatloads of Maori?
Unable to find any empirical basis for Doutre's claims, Riddell suggests that they might have their origins in politics rather than in scholarship:
The Celtic New Zealand home page asserts: "Politics and the agenda's [sic] of racial groupings have no place here. We simply wish to uncover the truth as it relates to the distant past and in doing so know better the land which is our home in the present." Yet the first four items on their Articles page are links to the Treaty of Waitangi site, to an item on an alternative early draft of the Treaty, an account of "Waitangi Tribunal and Government terrorism against a NZ farming family" -- the Titfords of Maunganui Bluff, and a link to the One New Zealand Foundation website. There most definitely does appear to be an agenda here...
Regular readers of this blog will know that Riddell's fears about Doutre's political agenda are not misplaced. Along with his friends and fellow pseudo-historians Noel Hilliam and Kerry Bolton, Doutre has had a range of associations with the racist far right of New Zealand politics. He has had a particularly close association with the One New Zealand Foundation, the Northland-based outfit which campaigns for scrapping of the Treaty of Waitangi and an end to state funding for the Maori language. Doutre believes that if his version of New Zealand history were accepted as fact, then political 'reforms' like these would have to be implemented.
Doutre also looks forward to the 'return' of taonga like the famous carvings in the Maori court of the Auckland War Memorial Museum to whites. He believes that ancient Celts, not Maori, invented the hei tiki and built great waka. For reasons which are not hard to understand, Doutre's views are highly unpopular with Maori.
Like his hero the neo-Nazi pseudo-historian David Irving, Doutre claims to be the victim of a campaign by a sinister global conspiracy to distort the past and destroy historical evidence. In some of the more feverish messages he has left on the internet, Doutre has talked of a conspiracy encompassing Kiwi academics, 'radical' Maori, the Department of Conversation, and the United Nations, and complained that teams of ruthless men have been roaming the Kiwi countryside blowing up sites and objects associated with his ancient super-Celts.
Last year Doutre managed to con the New Zealand Herald into reporting his opposition to the destruction of a couple of boulders at Silverdale which were supposedly part of Auckland's network of ancient observatories. Apparently the transport bureaucrats who were pushing a new stretch of motorway through the spot where the boulders sat were part of the anti-Celtic conspiracy.
Now it seems that taggers have joined the campaign against Doutre and the ancient white tangata whenua of New Zealand. When Skyler and I were venturing over the Bombays into the realm of the barbarians last weekend we noticed that the poor old 'Bombay Obelisk' has been covered in graffiti. I'm not sure whether I approve of the tagging of Doutre's beloved rocks. Call me old-fashioned if you like, but I prefer graffiti which says something - graffiti which calls on the government to resign, or calls the police the world's biggest gang, or memorialises Tupac Shakur or Ian Curtis - to the self-referentiality of tagging. I am rather amused, though, by the idea of Martin Doutre raging against another attack on a sacred relic of the ancient super-Celts, and I look forward to seeing him trying to work a couple of teenagers with spray cans into his claims about a global anti-white conspiracy.
Footnote: in case anyone claims that Doutre and the other anti-Maori pseudo-scholars have become so ridiculous that they are now ipso facto politically irrelevant, I should note their apparent links to the Coastal Coalition, an outfit which has been attracting the odd news headline lately, and the endorsement of their views by Muriel Newman, the Coastal Coalition spokesperson, former ACT MP, and wannabe antipodean Sarah Palin.