Thursday, November 29, 2012

From Peria to Hobbiton

 

In the countryside near Matamata the remains of an old village can be found. The inhabitants of this village lived peacefully, growing crops in the fields near their cosy homes. But their lives were changed by an army of invaders.

The old village I've been describing isn't Hobbiton, the fragment of JRR Tolkien's Shire that Peter Jackson has constructed near Matamata and used in his adaptions of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It is true that, in the world Tolkien named Middle Earth, the Shire is a peaceable agricultural society which is invaded and conquered by the evil forces of Sauron and his ally Saruman. But there is another, real-life village which stood one hundred and fifty years ago near the site of Hobbiton. It was called Peria, and it was established by Wiremu Tamihana, the Ngati Haua and Tainui chief who helped build the Maori King Movement.

Tamihana, who was also known as William Thompson, was one of a generation of Maori leaders who tried to blend the technology, religion, and cash economy which Pakeha had brought to Aotearoa with traditional Polynesian culture. Tamihana and his people planted new crops like wheat on their land, and built flour mills beside their streams, but they retained collective ownership of much of their property. They exported their surplus food to Pakeha colonists in Auckland on a fleet of schooners, but distributed the proceeds from these sales according to traditional customs and hierarchies.

Tamihana had founded Peria in 1846 to show that it was possible to fuse the best of the Maori and European worlds. The village was named after Berea, an ancient city which stood on the slopes of Mount Olympus. A meeting house sat in the centre of Peria, ringed by whare belonging to the different kin groups of Ngati Haua. Tamihana was literate in Maori and English, and his settlement featured a large school and boarding houses for two hundred pupils. John Gorst, a lawyer, writer, and aide to the colonial government in Auckland, visited Peria in 1856 and was impressed:

It was beautifully situated on a number of gentle eminences; on the summit of every hill were located Whares...each surrounded by its own little plantation of wheat, maize, kumara and potatoes...A Maori-built church crowned one height, the ancient burial place another...Thompson's own house, nestling in a grove of peach trees, stood on an eminence...On an adjacent hill stood a post office, from which Thompson despatched letters to all the Maori villages. In the valley below the village, a stream turned a little flour mill, where the dusky farmers ground their wheat...Every morning and evening a bell called this simple, orderly, religious people to prayers. I never saw a more charming instance of simply idyllic life...

Other Tainui chiefs set up their own modern settlements, and scores of flour mills were established across the iwi's territory.

In 1863 war came to the Waikato. After the Maori King Tawhiao refused to accept the authority of Queen Victoria and open his land for large-scale settlement, a British army marched down the Great South Road from Auckland, crossed the Mangatawhiri Stream, which flows into the Waikato River near Mercer and had been treated as the boundary between Maori and Pakeha territory, and attacked a series of pa. Some of the young men of Ngati Haua journeyed north, across the Maungakawa Ranges and along the Waikato River, and joined Tawhiao's army. Tamihana tried fruitlessly to negotiate a ceasefire, sending unanswered letters north to Auckland.
The invasion of the Waikato was commanded by Duncan Cameron, an old and melancholy general who doubted the justice of the orders he received from the colonial government in Auckland. John Gorst was also dubious about the war. In his 1864 book The Maori King he argued that by sending troops across the Mangatawhiri he and his colleagues had 'destroyed whatever reputation we had for benevolence or justice'.

Cameron was unable to control his soldiers, who drank, burnt, and looted enthusiastically as they advanced south through the Waikato. Even settler enclaves in the region, like the little town of Raglan, were ravaged, and after the war the New Zealand parliament was forced to establish a commission to award compensation to loyal householders and farmers who had lost their livelihoods at the hands of boozed-up troops.
The Waikato War ended at Orakau pa, south of Te Awamutu, where after days of near-continuous fighting Maori forces ran out of bullets, and began to fire peach stones at the larger British army. When the peach stones had run out Tawhiao's fighters and their families fled over the Puniu River into the region of mountains, forests, and caves that would become known as the King Country. For nearly two decades thousands of Waikato Maori lived in exile in kainga like Te Kuiti and Taumaranui.

Instead of retreating south with Tawhiao, Wiremu Tamihana led his hapu northeast to Maungatautari, the sprawling mountain that overlooked the Waikato River, where an ancient forest pa offered them temporary sanctuary from the invaders. When their enemies threatened to encircle Maungatautari, Tamihana's people escaped across the rapids of the Waikato by night in small boats.

Peria lay close to the edge of a vast tract of land confiscated by the victors of the Waikato War. Tamihana died in 1866 and, nearly destitute and under pressure from Pakeha settlers, including the wheat baron Josiah Firth, a faction of Ngati Haua sold the land the village stood on for a very low price. Peria was evacuated by its former inhabitants.
A year or so ago my wife and I went looking for Peria. We unfolded a map, and noticed the name of Wiremu Tamihana's old village beside a dot just west of Matamata. We drove across low hills towards the dot, and found a small reserve with a couple of old fruit trees - survivors of the orchards of Peria? - beside a row of large ugly new houses. There was no sign or plaque to commemorate Tamihana's remarkable social experiment.

We drove into Matamata, past a large sign that said WELCOME TO HOBBITON and a bad statue of a pensive Gollum. The Matamata Visitor Information Centre had posters and stacks of brochures advertising expensive guided tours of Hobbiton, but couldn't supply us with any information about Peria, or about other sites associated with Wiremu Tamihana.

It might seem odd that Matamata chooses not to publicise the story of Peria and its people. Wiremu Tamihana is an impressive figure, a visionary thinker as well as a man of courageous action, and events like the epic battle at Orakau and the night crossing of the Waikato have as much drama as anything Tolkien and Jackson have imagined. Why, we might ask, are movies not being made about Wiremu Tamihana? Why hasn't a replica of Peria been built for busloads of snap-happy tourists?
But there is an important difference between the dramas of nineteenth century New Zealand and the dramas of Middle Earth. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit offer audiences an unambiguous battle between the loveable hobbits of the Shire and the alien, almost abstract evil of Sauron. Pakeha readers and viewers can identify easily with Frodo Baggins and his friends, and despise Sauron and his Orcs.

Learning the story of the Waikato War and Peria is, though, a much less comfortable experience. In the story of the Waikato War, the army doing the pillaging and burning is made up not of mindless monsters, but of men acting in the name of the New Zealand state. The place of Sauron is taken by the business and political establishment of Pakeha New Zealand. For politicians, tourism operators, and Pakeha film and book audiences, it is much easier to think about New Zealand as Middle Earth than as a society founded on and consolidated by war.

Footnote: Over the last week or so Chris Trotter and Giovanni Tiso have both written well about the 'rebranding' of New Zealand as Middle Earth. I banged on about the same subject in this lecture. The late Waikato historian Evelyn Stokes wrote a fine biography of Wiremu Tamihana.

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]

Kids' stuff

I heard a story about a coffee group for new Mums whose members decided, at one of their weekly cafe gatherings, to hold a vote on which of their number had the most beautiful baby. The contest was tied, with each baby getting a single vote. When Skyler and I decided to make a book of baby photos to give to friends and family at Christmas, I remembered the story about the coffee group's beauty contest, and urged that we include photos of friends' and relatives' babies as well as our own in the book.

I also suggested that we combine photos of kids with poems about childhood, and for the past few weeks I've been pulling books off my shelves and flicking through them looking for half-remembered texts.

Of the sixteen poems which have ended up in the manuscript we sent off to a vanity publisher yesterday, my favourite is 'A Boy's Head', which was written by Miroslav Holub and translated from Czech by Ian Milner, the Oamaru-born Rhodes Scholar and alleged spy who hid himself behind the Iron Curtain after World War Two:

A Boy's Head

In it there is a space-ship
and a project
for doing away with piano lessons.

And there is
Noah's ark,
which shall be first.

And there is
an entirely new bird,
an entirely new hare,
and entirely new bumble-bee.

There is a river
that flows upwards.

There is a multiplication.

There is anti-matter.

And it just cannot be trimmed.

I believe
that only what cannot be trimmed
is a head.

There is much promise
in the circumstance
that so many people have heads.
Holub and Milner worked on poems like these in the years after the Soviet invasion of 1968 had replaced Czechoslovakia's experiment in 'socialism with a human face' with neo-Stalinist rule. Holub's short, playful, apparently apolitical texts were often able to sidle past Czechoslovak censors, yet they are capable of stimulating all sorts of seditious sentiments. 'A Boy's Head' can be read as a celebration of imaginative freedom, as well as an innocent description of laddish enthusiasms.

A pregnancy is a drawn-out business, and while Skyler and I sat about in the waiting rooms of clinics and hospitals, looking forward to ultrasounds and appointments with midwives and obstretricians, I filled up an exercise book or two with scraps of scrappy poetry and pseudo-sociological observations of radiologists (why, I wondered, do they all seem to have semi-translucent skin and permanent squints?) and orderlies. Here's something dodgy I've dug out of an exercise book for our Christmas gift:

Six Archaeological Poems

CTG

baby's heartbeat
the hooves
of a galloping horse

Palaeo

a word with watery
smooth
hollows

Lithic

a word chipped as hard
as a bone-tipped
arrow

The prehistory of language

hollow stone
in a stream
my baby nephew
gurgles
burps

Before the excavation

the obstetrician
archaeologist

Archaeologist's note

Tane, carved on totara, then
wrapped in flax -
wrapped carefully, wrapped bravely,
during a Nga Puhi raid -
and left in a swamp,
in the anaerobic waters
which are helpful
for the preservation of

saved, in the swamp's
amniotic fluid

[Posted by Maps/Scott]



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sects, secrets and lies


[The literary journal brief has enjoyed launch parties in some interesting locations over the last couple of years. After he guest edited the forty-first issue of brief, Richard von Sturmer held a launch at Auckland's Zen Centre, a surprisingly ugly building near the northern source of the southwestern motorway. Bill Direen, who took care of issue number forty-two, held his party at the Michael King Centre, which sits on the upper slopes of Devonport's Mount Victoria and offers panoptic views of the inner Waitemata harbour. Last May I took I organised a night of kava drinking at the Onehunga Workingman's Club to mark the appearance of my Oceania-themed double issue of brief. Later today brief's latest guest editor Bronwyn Lloyd will launch issue number forty-six, which has the theme 'Survival', in a green corner of the North Shore.

I blogged in August about a review I was writing for Bronwyn's issue, and about the weird characters I was encountering when I tried to research the piece. Here's the finished review.]

Sects, secrets and lies: four notes on Jack Ross’ Fallen Empire

Jack Ross, Fallen Empire, Museum of True History, Auckland and Dunedin, 2012

1. Secret dramas

My regular winter illnesses offer the odd fringe benefit, like the right to spend hours in bed reading. Given its carefully contrived atmosphere of mystery, I felt like I should have read Jack Ross' Fallen Empire secretly under the sheets, behind a locked door. Fallen Empire was produced to accompany a recent exhibition by Karl Chitham at Dunedin's Blue Oyster Gallery. Chitham is the creator of the Museum of True History, a sort of faux-institution which has for several years now been offering up pieces of faux-history to bemused gallery audiences.

At the Blue Oyster last month Chitham showed off drawings and models which were supposedly created by a mystical sect called the Society of Inner Light. Jack Ross' book, which is illustrated by three of Chitham's murkily atmospheric drawings, collects fragments of three plays that the Society's initiates allegedly performed in a private theater. In his introduction to Fallen Empire, Ross claims that the texts were found along with 'costumes and religious paraphenalia' at a derelict storehouse in Raetihi. Ross sketches the ideology and history of the Society of Inner Light:

There's a lot about Atlantis and Lemuria in their surviving writings. They held some very revisionist ideas about the accepted chronology of world history...Polynesian culture was, to them, primary and almost inconceivably ancient. The emissaries of civilisation (for them) emanated originally from the Pacific - specifically from the lost continent of Mu, which now survives only in the form of scattered islands of the Oceanic archipelago...The main body of members came to New Zealand after WWI...The last one standing turned out the lights, leaving everything in situ, sometime around 1973...
Each of the plays in Fallen Empire was written for a chorus and a small number of actors. The choruses feature laconic free verse, while the scenes they bookend are written in prose. In the editorial note that follows his introduction, Ross complains that most of the scenes in each play have been lost, but explains that 'the opening and final choruses...survived in full' because they were 'transcribed onto sheet music and kept in a separate folder from the rest of the script'. By disposing of most of the script for each play, Ross is able to focus on a few scenes and dispense with the tiresome business of building plots.

The three plays feature characters and settings from a slew of cultures and myth-cycles. In Maui in the Underworld, for instance, the legendary Polynesian trickster finds himself marooned on the island of Homer's Calypso. Maui persuades Calypso to let him leave her domain, saying that he wants to find and outwit Hine-nui-te-po, the Maori goddess of death. After sailing from the mythical Mediterranean and being wrecked on the torrid coast of New Zealand, Maui encounters Hine-nui-te-po, who allows him to return to Hawai'iki. In the final scene of the play Maui first feasts with and then, for reasons which aren’t clear, slaughters his brothers in a whare on Hawai'iki. As Maui stands over their bodies and boasts of how he will defeat Hine-nui-te-po, the brothers come back to life, and sing the play's closing chorus:

You can't strike
bargains
with Death
audacious Maui

better to live
on earth
an indentured man
scratching a bare living

from the soil
than to reign
over all the dead
in worthless pomp

take pride in tales
of your
distant descendants'
deeds

Your fame will last
as long
as a kinsman
bleeds

2. World famous in Raetihi

By locating his sect in Raetihi, a small, economically distressed town on the volcanic plateau of the North Island, Jack Ross might seem to be emphasising its marginality. The geographical isolation of Raetihi can be seen, surely, as a metaphor for the apparent intellectual isolation of the Society of Light from mainstream New Zealand, and the stagnation of the town seems to parallel the stagnation of the Society, which failed to maintain its membership in the decades after World War Two.

Ross' Raetihi setting might also be an attempt to play on some of the associations that small towns have in the minds of big city Kiwis. We like to condemn provincial New Zealand as dully conservative, but half-suspect that it is really a hotbed of sin. We want to believe that the small-town RSA turns into swinger's club on Friday nights, and that the local vicar grows pot out the back of his manse. The rise of 'Kiwi Gothic' genre, with its love of mixing the grotesque and the provincial, reflects the way urban New Zealanders see their rural and small town kin.
And yet we can contest the idea that the Society of Inner Light is no more than a fantasy set in a small town. There are, or at least have been, real-life parallels to the Society in New Zealand, and they have not all been as obscure and ill-fated as the outfit documented in Fallen Empire.

After it ran into trouble with prudish London policemen early in the twentieth century, the Golden Dawn, that famous gang of magicians which included, for a while at least, WB Yeats, dispersed to various parts of the world. One group of Golden Dawn initiates exchanged uptight London for libertine Havelock North, and built a temple there which was used until the 1970s. Theosophy, the hyper-syncretic religion founded by a conwoman known as Madame Blavatsky, set up shop in New Zealand in the late 1880s; Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophical splinter from Theosophy turned up here later. All of these groups combined an interest in elaborate and exotic rituals with a wildly diffusionist view of history which saw certain 'chosen races' crossing and recrossing the globe and populating mythical continents like Lemuria and Atlantis.

The Havelock North Golden Dawn, the Theosophists, and the Anthroposophists remained relatively small groups, but it can be argued that hyper-diffusionism and ideas of the manifest destinies of various races appealed to many Pakeha New Zealanders, including a number of political and intellectual leaders, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

 Edward Treagar, who was a pillar of the political and cultural establishment of nineteenth century New Zealand, believed that Maori were an Aryan people who had crossed the half the globe to reach these islands, and had been destined to reunite here with their Aryan brothers the British. William Massey, who was Prime Minister of New Zealand between 1912 and 1925, belonged to the British Israelites, a cult which insisted that one of the lost tribes of Israel had come to dwell in England, Scotland and Wales, and had later been directed by God to conquer barbarous regions of the world like Polynesia. As James Belich and other historians have shown, the notion that New Zealand was a sort of divine gift to the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic races - a 'better Britain' or 'God's Own Country' in the South Seas - was widely and intensely held by early generations of Pakeha.

3. Mixing myths

The mashup up of mythopoetic material in Fallen Empire has many precedents in Pakeha culture. Baxter blurred the lines between Maori and Greek mythology, and Graham Billing put Homeric as well as Polynesian Gods into his epic novel The Chambered Nautillus.

If Jack Ross had felt lazy, he could perhaps have lifted texts for Fallen Empire from a real-life archive. The Kendrick Smithyman Papers at the University of Auckland Library include an odd, unfinished play where Greek Gods hang out in a Kiwi coffee shop during a wet evening in the 1950s. The Auckland archive also includes an unpublished, unperformed play by Frank Acheson, a Native Land Court judge and literary dabbler, in which Maori Gods visit their Greek cousins on Mount Olympus.

The mythographic mashups of writers like Acheson have to be related to the colonial history of New Zealand. When one people colonises another, they often appropriate the mythology as well as the lands of their victim. It is no coincidence that the reigning architectural style of Victorian Britain was a violent eclecticism, which saw gothic spires, Mughal domes, and Moorish brickwork adorning the same railway station or hotel. Like the Maoriland writers who plundered Maori myth, the architects of imperialist Britain thought nothing of ransacking the cultures of subject peoples.
At the very time when Pakeha control over the whole of New Zealand was being established in the second half of the nineteenth century, Pakeha writers and artists were choosing an idealised, pre-contact Maori society as subject matter, and Pakeha collectors were hoarding pre-contact carvings. In the early twentieth century, as Maori were completely marginalised, the name 'Maoriland' came to stand for New Zealand. It can be plausibly argued that, when they put Maui or Te Whiro into a poem or story or painting, Pakeha were annexing Maori mythology. Maori heroes and Gods were assimilated, and became part of the same mythic landscape as St George, Merlin, and Robin Hood. They were like rare native birds taken out of their forest home and resettled in the ornamental garden of some colonial town, amidst oaks and poplars.

The 'Maori renaissance' of recent decades has been, in part, an attempt to reverse the annexation of Maori to Pakeha culture. By creating a series of controversies about Pakeha artists' use of Maori material - by querying Gordon Walters' koru, or Colin McCahon's take on Tuhoe history, or CK Stead's right to edit an anthology of Polynesian writing - cultural activists have demanded the recreation of boundaries that were erased a century or more ago. The partial or even total incommensurability of Maori and Pakeha culture and experience has been asserted.

Jack Ross' Society of Inner Light makes the Pacific the cradle of civilisation. It was the Polynesians, the Society says, who taught the rest of the world, including Europe, the rudiments of agriculture.

The Society of Inner Light's claims about Pacific history are, of course, unfounded. Polynesian culture evolved only several thousand years ago, amongst the Lapita people who had pushed east through Melanesia to the islands we now call Tonga and Samoa. Most of Eastern Polynesia, including New Zealand, was settled only within the last fifteen hundred years. But the Society of Inner Light's insistence on the priority and pervasive influence of Polynesian culture might be considered a satire by Jack Ross of the pseudo-history that men like Massey held dear. Where so many Europeans have seen Polynesia as a place without history, whose people need to be awakened forcibly from their barbarous torpor by Christianity and commerce, the Society of Inner Light sees Polynesians as the bearers of the torch of civilisation and progress.
And yet it can be argued that, even if the ideology of the Society of Inner Light is inimical to Eurocentrism, the intellectual and literary methods of the outfit are profoundly Eurocentric. As we have noted, the very notion that the myths and Gods of quite different cultures can be mixed merrily together was part and parcel of nineteenth century colonialism.

4. Jack’s puzzles

Fallen Empire offers, then, a couple of puzzles. We can read the book as a statement about the marginality of hyper-diffusionism and ideas of racial destiny in New Zealand society, because of the obscure location and eventual extinction of the group it portrays. On the other hand, the connections between the ideology of the Society of Inner Light and the doctrine of many real-life New Zealanders, including powerful men like William Massey, can make us see the location and organisational failure of the Society as ironic rather than symbolic. And we can read the Pacific-centred vision of history espoused by the Raetihi sect either as a poetic rebuke to the Eurocentrism of many Pakeha, or as another piece of irony, given the group's colonialist eclecticism.

Jack Ross is an artful writer. His memorable first novel, Nights with Giordano Bruno, was adorned with occult and astrological symbols that bemused some readers; a later novel, The Imaginary Museum of Atlantis, sometimes resembled a series of crossword puzzles. In his editorial note to Fallen Empire, Ross says that he will let readers decide the 'larger meaning' of his strange new book. The task isn't easy, but it feels worthwhile.

[posted by Scott Hamilton]

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Labour and the F word

Last weekend's Labour conference was a tempestuous affair. Rank and file party members ignored the pleas of their leaders and voted for democratic reforms, while allies of David Shearer denounced his rival David Cunliffe to every journalist they could find.

If there is one thing that Labour members can agree upon, even in this time of division, it is the evils of factions. Cunliffe's well-connected critics accuse him of building a faction in the party; Cunliffe's supporters in the blogosphere and elsewhere consider this charge a calumny. Both sides in the current dispute hark back to the 1980s, when the fourth Labour government's right-wing economic programme caused turmoil inside the party, when they warn about the dangers of factionalism. They agree that, without what Shearer ally and party whip Chris Hipkins called 'total unity', Labour cannot win the 2014 election.

But do factions really deserve all this opprobrium? Traditionally, the left has understood a faction to be a group formed inside a political party to advocate openly for a set of policies. Factions hold private and public meetings, publish propaganda, and recruit new members, as they try to convince the wider party of the rightness of their views. To belong to a faction is not be disloyal to a party - it is simply to work in the open with other members of that party in pursuit of a common goal.

Labour's sister parties abroad have been friendlier to factions. The British Labour Party, for instance, has long contained a variety of factions which hold their own public meetings and publish their own propaganda. The left-wing Socialist Campaign Group has existed since 1982 and commands the loyalty of fourteen MPs, including John McDonnell, who challenged Gordon Brown for the party leadership and post of Prime Minister in 2007, and Diane Abbott, who fought with the Milibands for the party leadership last year. At the other end of the party's ideological spectrum stands Progress, a faction established by MPs and activists nostalgiac for the neo-liberal economics and neo-conservative foreign policy of the Tony Blair era. The influential grouping called Compass, which advocates a moderate form of social democracy, has taken up positions between the Campaign and Progress factions.

In the 1980s the British Labour leader Neil Kinnock famously purged a left-wing faction of the party called Militant. Perhaps not coincidentally, Kinnock lost the next two elections. Tony Blair was no fan of party democracy, but he was obliged to tolerate the Campaign Group because most of its MPs enjoyed strong support in their constituencies.
Many members of New Zealand's Labour Party appear to confuse a faction with a clique, but the two are very different things. Where a faction organises in the open, and tries to win a majority of a party to its views, a clique operates secretly and undemocratically.

Labour's painful experiences in the 1980s do not, as many of its present-day members imagine, count as proof of the dangers of factionalism. As Bruce Jesson showed in his book Fragments of Labour, the party was hijacked, in the months leading up to its 1984 election victory, by a clique of converts to radical right-wing politics. This clique, which was led by Roger Douglas, was clever and ruthless enough to set the policy programme of the government David Lange set up after the election.

Jesson argued that the job of Douglas was made easier because of the lack of a large, intellectually powerful left-wing faction inside Labour in the early '80s. Lange and other leading MPs were seduced by Douglas partly because they could see no alternative to his ideas. When Douglas went to work after the election, selling state assets and deregulating financial markets, the party's grassroots was confused, and slow to respond.

Today another right-wing clique has captured the commanding heights of the Labour Party. As Chris Trotter has noted, David Shearer's most enthusiastic supporters are not rank and file Labour members but right-wing  media commentators like Fran O'Sullivan and David Farrar. Shearer advisors like Josie and John Pagani have made their admiration for Blair and Thatcher clear, and Shearer's money man David Parker tried to fight last year's election by positioning himself to the right of the National Party. Shearer's own speeches and interviews have included ominous exercises in beneficiary and teacher-bashing.
While Shearer and his colleagues have been trying to shift Labour to the right, David Cunliffe has won wide popularity with grassroots members by making a series of speeches which have argued that Labour should return to social democratic policies. Cunliffe has become the unofficial leader of Labour's internal opposition.

At last weekend's conference Labour's rank and file won democratic reforms which threaten the power of the clique around Shearer. After being defeated on the conference floor, Shearer threw some left-wing rhetoric and a major housing programme into his speech to delegates, winning their applause. Now that the conference is over, though, the Shearer clique is trying to push back at the grassroots, by reprimanding and demoting David Cunliffe for disloyalty.

Both the Shearer clique and the mainstream media have been keen to present the dissent at Labour's conference as a product of Cunliffe's machinations. Cunliffe has been condemned as an egoist who is creating conflict in his party simply to satisfy his own ambitions. The disciplining of Cunliffe will, we are told, help restore calm to Labour. But the real source of Labour's troubles is the split between the Shearer clique and the opinions of the party's rank and file, who are in no mood to see a repeat of the right-wing policies of the '80s.

While it is understandable that critics of Shearer support Cunliffe, they should not allow the conflict of ideas inside the party to be turned into a conflict of personalities. Critics of the Labour Party's current leadership are already communicating with each other at places like the group blog The Standard. They should organise themselves into a faction which champions the left-wing alternative to the policies of the Shearer clique. If Labour's grassroots opposition showed its size and made its case, then the Shearer clique's attempts to  personalise and trivialise the divisions in the party would fall flat.

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]

Friday, November 16, 2012

Shooting the Domain

If you see several blokes wandering across the Auckland Domain this morning, stepping onto dog turds and tripping on their shoelaces as their old-fashioned cameras track slowly across barren turf, beds of staring roses, and supine pondwater, try to refrain from jeering. Paul Janman and I will be trying to kickstart our long-stalled film about the Great South Road by shooting some footage in Auckland's favourite park.

The Domain may appear innocently bucolic but, as I explained in the first manifesto of the Committee for the Reconstruction of Space and Time on Pig Island, it was a marshalling ground for the biological invasion of the Waikato Kingdom in the 1860s. After a British army led by the melancholy pacifist General Duncan Cameron had conquered most of the realm of King Tawhiao in 1963 and 1864, the settlers who took over super-fertile confiscated lands around the Waikato and Waipa Rivers imported a series of species - trout, ragwort, orchids, blue duck - which had been nurtured in the ponds and gardens of the Domain by the Auckland Acclimatisation Society. On the slopes of Maungatautari and Kakepuku ragwort and gorse blazed amidst the ruins of felled forests; in the scores of peat lakes around Kirikiriroa trout feasted on long-isolated species of native fish.

After taking the advice Alfred Hitchcock gave us to heart, Paul has decided to use archaic technology to tell the story of the Great South Road and the events of the 1860s. He has sought out cameras which are hardly more advanced than the clumsy and cantankerous device that soldier-artist William Temple used to record his advance down the Great South Road into the Waikato Kingdom in 1863.

Apart from shooting the innocent-seeming waters and gardens of the Domain this morning, Paul and I will be visiting the ruined railway workshops which sit in the middle of the park's tract of bush. As Paul and I argued in one of the proposals for our film, New Zealand's rail system, with its hundreds of lovingly designed stations, branches to remote towns and villages, and impudently looping and spiralling sections of alpine track, was once an expression of the country's faith in modernity and industry. Since the deindustrialisation of the '80s and '90s, though, and the rebranding of New Zealand as a 'clean, green paradise' full of smiling hobbits happy to run hotels and B and Bs for wealthy American tourists, the rusting, economically useless regions of our rail empire have become an embarrassment. Sections of track have been torn up, or made into pleasant cycle lanes for ecologically minded tourists; old stations have become cafes filled with bad amateur paintings and flower arrangements.

Councillors and city planners are still arguing about whether the Domain workshops should become a cafe, a museum, or an acre of replanted bush; in the meantime, the station and the locomotives that sit hopelessly about it have acquired a devastated look, thanks to rot and rust, and to the winos that have made them into drinking dens. Tourists taking the train south from Auckland's new, minimalist central station can glimpse this ruin for a couple of seconds, before the trees of the Domain close over again.

[Posted by Maps/Scott]

Monday, November 12, 2012

Are refugees from 'Obamanation' heading downunder?

Near the end of Michael Mann's Heat, the best movie to come out of Hollywood in the nineties, the jaded bank robber played by Robert De Niro urges his sweetheart to leave Los Angeles behind and emigrate with him to New Zealand. For De Niro's disillusioned villain, New Zealand is a distant paradise where the sirens and gunshots of America can be forgotten.

In the aftermath of last week's presidential election, some Republicans are also fantasising about making new lives in New Zealand. As I  noted last week, many right-wing Americans were confident that Mitt Romney would thrash Barack Obama, despite a long series of opinion polls which suggested that the Democrats' man was on track win four more years in the White House. Now that Romney has gone down to defeat, the mood on many Republican blogs and messageboards has turned apocalyptic. A few bloggers have claimed, on the scantiest evidence, that Obama 'stole' the election through ballot-stuffing or some more high-tech form of trickery; others have blamed the result on demographic changes with have made 'takers' like African Americans, Hispanics, and young people into a majority of the population, and rendered the 'makers' who support the Republican Party powerless.
For most relatively detached observers, Obama is a moderate social democrat who has, like Franklin D Roosevelt in the thirties and Jimmy Carter in the seventies, used Keynesian measures like quantitative easing to try to deal with an economic crisis created by his predecessors. For many on the right of Republican Party, though, he is an Islamo-communist who is well on his way to destroying America. Warning of the sharia law, nationalisation of all property, and slaughter of whites which are coming, many right-wingers have talked of fleeing the 'Obamanation' that their beloved homeland homeland has become for some remote arcadia.

Although it was produced before the election, an article at a site called Activist Post  about the five best sanctuaries for refugees from America has been circulated widely over the last week by distraught Republicans. Activist Post ranks New Zealand as the world's third most desirable bolthole, after Uruguay and Costa Rica but before Argentina and Iceland. According to the Post, New Zealand 'might be the most isolated fully developed nation in the world', and boasts both 'friendly people' and 'many remote places to hide away'.
Activist Post hints that American refugees might like to make homes in one of New Zealand's 'smaller islands', like 'the Cook Islands or Chatham Island'. I can't see the Cook Islanders being happy at once again being made subjects of Wellington, and I wonder whether the perennial Antarctic winds and extraordinarily tangled local politics of the Chathams might make even the most fervent Obamaphobe long for the good old US of A.

If angry Republicans do head our way, they won't be the first group of American refugees to seek sanctuary in the Pacific. When the Civil War ended with the liberation of slaves and the break-up of many big plantations in 1865, diehard Confederates tried to recreate their old lifestyle in other parts of the world. Thousands of Dixielanders tried to gouge colonies out of Mexico and Brazil, but others headed for the South Pacific, and began growing crops like sugar, cotton, and coffee in places like Fiji and Queensland.

In his fascinating but depressing book called The White Pacific, the African American scholar Gerald Horne shows how the Confederates brought their old racial attitudes with them when they fled to the Pacific. In Fiji, they put locals to work as virtual slaves on their plantations, and formed a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan to destabilise the government of the indigenous King Cakobau. The Klan's violent rhetoric and actions won it wide support from Fiji's white community, until Cakobau decided in 1873 to accept British sovereignty rather than risk Confederate hegemony.
Both Confederate and Yankee war veterans settled in small numbers in New Zealand. The great Kiwi poet Kendrick Smithyman remembered a couple of old men from opposite sides of the war who saw out their days at the retirement home his parents managed in the small Northland town of Te Kopuru. Whenever the two veterans ran into each other in the hall they would shout ancient insults and begin fencing with their canes.

In the twentieth century American refugees to the South Pacific tended to espouse left-wing rather than conservative politics. Back in 2008 I blogged about Robert Ford, the Spanish Civil War veteran and nephew of the famous film-maker John Ford who came here in the fifties to escape Joseph McCarthy's anti-reds crusade. In the sixties other Americans preferred a few years in New Zealand to a tour of Vietnam.

In its coverage of America's election, the Guardian found the time to mention the many Republicans talking about resettling in New Zealand. Britain's favourite liberal newspaper quoted a Kiwi tweeter called Ali Ikram, who doubted whether Republicans would feel at home downunder:

4 Republicans moving 2 New Zealand here Romney is a sheep breed, we haven't had a revolution yet & The White House is a strip bar 

I can think of a few additional reasons why refugees from 'Obamanation' who wash up in New Zealand may be disappointed with their new home. Our healthcare system is considerably more statist than anything envisaged by Obama, our gun laws are relatively strict, our political representatives do not, with the exception of John Banks, take the Book of Genesis literally, and our premier summer game is, let's face it, a lot slower and more complicated than baseball. Perhaps those would-be refugees should think their decision over for four years or so?

[Posted by Maps/Scott]

Friday, November 09, 2012

Grounded at Ardmore


We are on the extreme promontory of the centuries! We are already living in the absolute, since we have already created eternal, omnipresent speed. We want to glorify war — the only cure for the world...We will sing the gliding flight of aeroplanes whose propeller sounds like the flapping of a flag...we will put an end to the seemingly indomitable hostility that separates our human flesh from the metal of engines. After the animal kingdom, the mechanical kingdom begins! 

- from The Futurist Manifesto, 1909, and an additional statement by Marinetti, 1912

That ordinary midweek Ardmore winter night,
air-to-air combat film, all camera gun stuff,
no sound of course, no commentary,
just one clip spliced on to another,
Name of pilot, date, Type of (target) aircraft.
Poor quality film, visibility impaired.
When fire was opened synchronised camera jumped
spastically. studio simulation does the job 
much better.
                   An ME 109 came into sight,
pursued through evasive tactics making use
of cloud. He knew he’d someone on his tail
before the screen began to jump,
ranging bursts.
                        In cloud, and out, swung
then pulled back climbing on a curve
off-screen. Which steadied, like a postulate.
Held, a moment long enough, you felt
a prediction coming true, it came
from top right headed lower left,
dead on course to centre screen
which jumped again, erupted. That was
all.
     People talk about inevitability
of the work of art. This was
inevitable, purpose purely stated,
then complete. A kinetic art,
like ballet? Language as gesture?
                                                  That night
the huntsman, not aware beforehand, was
in the audience. He had to take a lot of barracking.
"Come on," he protested, "lay off, eh. It’s a bit 
blush-making, isn’t it? It’s not like rhubarb."
Rhubarb was then a technical term.

- from Kendrick Smithyman's 'Silent Movies'

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Can the Republicans accept defeat?

Opinion polls suggest that today's American presidential election will be settled by a narrow margin. According to the great majority of pollsters, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are set to win similar shares of the popular vote, but Obama is likely to prevail in enough states to secure a majority of electoral college votes and book another four years in the White House.

Given the tightness of the race for President, it is understandable that Democrats and Republicans are both predicting that their man will win today. Opinion polls are not infallible, as John Kerry learned when George Bush beat him in 2004.

What is surprising is not Republican optimism about today's result, but the sheer scale of the victory that many of Romney's supporters expect. On the right of the Republican Party, especially, pundits and grassroots activists alike have been predicting that Romney will win by a landslide.

According to conservative pundit Michael Berone, Obama will take a thumping, as Romney prevails even in traditionally Democratic states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Romney needs 270 electoral college votes to win the keys to the White House; Berone expects him to score 315. Dick Morris, a former adviser to Bill Clinton who has drifted rightwards over the last decade, is even more optimistic. He predicts that Romney will take 325 electoral college votes, 'in the biggest surprise in recent American history'.

Over at Pajamas Media, a sort of watering hole for right-wing bloggers, almost everyone seems to expect a blow-out win for Romney, and some commenters are predicting that Obama will lose all but a handful of east and west coast states. If the Republican pundits and activists are correct, then an awful lot of opinion polls must be wrong.
On the rare occasions when they have considered the possibility of an Obama victory, right-wing pundits have insisted that such an outcome could only be the result of a massive, coordinated campaign of fraud by the Democratic Party and other sinister forces. Conspiracy theorists already accuse Obama's team of putting corpses on electoral rolls, taking billions in secret donations from foreign regimes, and planning to bus Mexicans across the border to polling booths.

To understand the gap between electoral reality and Republican expectations, we have to consider the ideological bunker the American right has built for itself in the Obama era. For the last five years Republicans have accused Obama of being at odds, both personally and politically, with the great majority of the American people. Obama's cosmopolitan background, academic experience, and popularity in 'socialist' Europe have all been cited as evidence of his 'anti-American' character. Mildly social democratic policies like Obamacare, quantitative easing and the bailout of General Motors are said to reflect the President's alien heritage and affinities.

Grassroots Republican groups have insisted that Americans voted for Obama out of ignorance in 2008, and that now that they understand his anti-American nature they will reject him decisively. The right believes that Obama's only reliable long-term support comes from 'minority' groups which are themselves at odds with mainstream American culture and values - groups like intellectuals, liberals, feminists, illegal immigrants, gays, Muslims, and racially obsessed African Americans.

Because they have equated their ideology with mainstream America, it is very hard for the Republican right to appreciate that Obama retains considerable support across their country. If they acknowledged that half of Americans still back Obama, then right-wingers would have to recognise that their own political programme, with its emphasis on moral conservatism and economic liberalism, is increasingly unpopular. Bans on abortion, the teaching of Creationism in schools, and tax cuts for the wealthy are hardly winning policies in an increasingly diverse country stricken by unemployment and a declining manufacturing sector.
 It is interesting to compare the attitude of right-wing Republicans to Obama with the response of left-leaning Democrats to George Bush junior. When Bush won the 2004 election, many Democratic activists reacted not by denying the result, but by pondering the nature of the American electorate. In an influential book called What's the Matter with Kansas? Thomas Frank argued that cultural conservatism had led many white working class Americans to defy their economic interests and vote for Bush.

Democratic activists have generally been able to acknowledge and analyse electoral defeats because they are not committed to equating their politics with the culture and values of the American majority. The Republican right, by contrast, has become convinced that its ideas are identical with those of mainstream America, and that its political opponents are inherently anti-American.

If Obama wins today's election, then the Republican right will face the choice of either acknowledging reality, or else hunkering down in the ideological bunker it has built over the past five years. It is likely that many Republicans will convince themselves that Obama stole the election from their candidate. A large minority of Americans will consider a democratically elected President an illegitimate usurper. The delusions of the Republican Party do not bode well for democracy.

[Posted by Maps/Scott]

Monday, November 05, 2012

Alternate histories


When I was thirteen I discovered The Warlord of the Air, the first of three novels in which Michael Moorcock recorded the adventures of Captain Oswald Bastable, an Edwardian Englishman who is blessed or cursed by the ability to move through alternative versions of the twentieth century.

In the first Bastable novel, which reads like a half-affectionate, half-scornful pastiche of one of Rudyard Kipling or John Buchan's fin de siecle romances, the good captain is sent by his superiors to investigate Kumbalari, an ancient civilisation tucked away in a conveniently remote Himalayan valley. Bastable enters Teku Benga, the capital of Kumbalari, where 'crazy spires and domes' mock 'the very laws of gravity', becomes lost in a vast building called The Temple of the Future Buddha, whose dark walls are covered with ugly gargoyles, and is thrown into the future. Bastable ends up in 1973, but his version of the seventies is very different from the one we remember. European empires still cover much of the globe, airships rather than airplanes ply the skies, Winston Churchill is best-known as a former viceroy of India, and Mick Jagger is a well-groomed officer in the British colonial service.

In the two sequels to The Warlord of the Air Bastable visits further alternate versions of the twentieth century. In one version of the future Bastable discovers that the Confederacy won the American Civil War; horrified to see slavery thriving in the 1970s, he joins an invasion of America by a technologically superior African Empire. In an another version of the seventies Bastable encounters Stalin, who has become Tsar of Russia and is about to launch a nuclear war against the rest of the world.
Oswald Bastable helped create a fashion for alternate histories amongst novelists. Over the past decade or so the interest in alternative history has spread to academia and to the mass media.

It is tempting to see a correlation between the popularity of alternate histories and the near-absence of utopian literature in the twenty-first century. A century or so ago the utopian tract was a thriving part of Western literature. Socialists, atheists, religious zealots, suffragettes, prohibitionists, anti-imperialists, and ultra-imperialists all flocked to the genre, and novelists like HG Wells and Jules Verne found bestsellers there.

The utopianism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reflected the confidence of an era when economic expansion and new technologies seemed like they might liberate humanity from want and injustice, if only they were administered according to the tenets of this or that -ism. In the twenty-first century such hopes seem naive to many of us. Rather than look forward to a glorious future, we seem increasingly inclined to look back at opportunities lost and dangers ignored.

In a piece for the London Review of Books, Slavoj Zizek argues that alternate histories are especially popular amongst right-wingers, who like to fantasise about shooting Lenin at the Finland Station, or giving the American Civil War to the South, or letting Charles I keep not only his head but his crown. Zizek insists that the left as well as the right should be interested in alternative history. Denouncing determinist views of change as 'dreary', he argues that left-wing revolutionaries like Lenin have been aware of the necessity of taking daring actions to force history onto a new course.
Both Zizek the Leninist and the would-be assassins of Lenin seem to assume that, once its course is determined, history is something homogenous. Like Aristotle and Hegel, they see history as a stream that flows steadily in one direction, without eddies or countercurrents or forking channels. Once an historical epoch has been inaugurated by a dramatic event like Lenin's arrival at Finland Station, this epoch characterises the whole world. Such a view is unfortunate, because it ignores the different ways that time and history are experienced in different societies, and the inevitable existence of exceptions to every historical trend.

I've argued that the Tongan past is important, because it offers us an exception to a very big and bad historical trend. Unlike every other Polynesian society and the great majority of southern hemisphere societies, Tonga was never colonised by a northern hemisphere power in the nineteenth or early twentieth century. To study Tonga, then, is to study a real-life alternate history. A friend recently asked me why I was taking a job in Tonga, rather than looking for work in New Zealand or some larger, wealthier nation. He looked slightly bemused as I tried to explain that, whenever I step off the plane onto the tarmac of Fua'amotu airport, I feel like Oswald Bastable stepping into an alternative reality.

Over the last week or so I've been creating some papers to teach next year at Tonga's 'Atenisi Institute.
I've decided not to try to teach this particular paper, because it seems too detailed for an undergraduate course in sociology. Perhaps somebody would like to steal it, improve it, and offer it to a few Masters students back in New Zealand?

ALTERNATIVE HISTORIES: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF NEW ZEALAND AND TONGA 

Many young Tongans spend years in New Zealand studying or working, or both, but few arrive with much knowledge of the society that will become their second home. For their part, too many Pakeha New Zealanders regard Tonga as little more than an occasional rugby opponent and a possible destination for a cheap holiday.

Because Tonga and New Zealand are societies with strong similarities amidst strong differences, and because they have histories which mix similarities and differences, they are ideal for comparative study.

1. Aotearoa and Tonga: same origins, different paths 

Tonga and Aotearoa were both settled by Polynesian peoples. Despite the similar cultures of their founders, though, the two societies followed very different paths. Tonga developed over millennia into a highly stratified society, with some of the institutions of a state and with colonies in neighbouring lands like Samoa and 'Ouvea. Maori society, by contrast, was fragmented and relatively egalitarian. There was no larger social unit than the iwi, and iwi fought amongst each other regularly.

Using Patrick Vinton Kirch's acclaimed general theory of Polynesian history as well as the detailed investigations of archaeologists like David Burley and Dennis Sutton in Tonga and New Zealand, we will seek to understand why such different societies could have developed in pre-contact Tonga and pre-contact Aotearoa.

2. Losers and keepers: Aotearoa and Tonga in the nineteenth century 

Tonga's unique record as the only Polynesian society to avoid colonisation makes it a window through which we can see an alternative history of the Pacific. Tonga's Tupou I was, after all, only one of a clutch of leaders who tried to defeat the designs of European and American imperialists by building a strong modern society on Polynesia foundations. In Aotearoa, King Tawhiao created a thriving nation in the central regions of Te Ika a Maui, but was unable to unify Maoridom, which lacked Tonga's history of political unity, and was defeated in the Waikato War of 1863-65. Later attempts to create an independent Maori state, like the Parihaka movement in Taranaki, were also crushed.

Looking at narratives of nineteenth century Tonga by Ian Campbell and Sione Latukefu, and accounts of New Zealand history of the same period by the likes of James Belich, we will try to discover why  Tonga remained independent when Maori protonations like the Waikato Kingdom suffered colonisation.

3. Different roads to the future: modernisation in Pakeha New Zealand and in Tonga

By the late nineteenth century both Tonga and New Zealand had been brought under the control of a centralised state. In New Zealand Pakeha controlled the state, but in Tonga Polynesians held the reins of power. Both New Zealand and Tonga's governments sought to move their countries into the modern era, but they chose radically different methods in their pursuit of modernity. While New Zealand followed other white settler-states like Australia and Canada in erecting a capitalist economy on the ruins of indigenous societies, Tonga's King Tupou I tried to find a compromise between the feudal economy which had existed in his country before contact and capitalism.
Under the series of reforms for which Tupou is famous, feudal chiefs lost their serfs and their right to tax the harvest of small farmers. Small farmers got the right to security of tenure on their land, which was effectively nationalised by Tupou, and the right to pass the land on to their offspring. The nobles got their own estates, which they ran on a semi-feudal basis, as a sop, and also the right to administer the tenure system on behalf of the state.

Tupou's reforms created an odd sort of ceasefire between Tonga's classes, and the country soon developed a hybrid economy, which featured a feudal mode of production based in the nobles' estates and a traditional Polynesian lineage mode of production based in the small farms and in the villages. How successful was Tupou alternative to capitalist modernity?

4. Waves from the north: the experience of globalisation in New Zealand and in Tonga

Although New Zealand was a capitalist nation by the last decades of the nineteenth century, its economy developed in relative isolation from those of larger capitalist powers like the United States. The social democratic reforms of the Savage and Fraser governments of the 1930s and '40s strengthened the country's insulation from global capitalism, by placing many large companies in state hands, limiting and tariffing imports, and developing a domestic manufacturing sector.

At the same time that Savage and Fraser were protecting New Zealand from the ravages of the free market, Tonga's Queen Salote was working to lessen her country's dependence on imported goods, and to shrink its cash economy. In the 1940s, though, Tonga's economy was suddenly liberalised by the arrival of thousands of free-spending American military personnel. The American demand for local goods and services enticed many Tongans to give up traditional activities like subsistence farming and enter the cash economy. Queen Salote's successor, King Tupou IV, was an enthusiastic supporter of capitalist development, and dreamed about turning his country into a 'Hong Kong of the South Pacific'.
Tupou IV's reforms of the Tongan economy in the 1970s and '80s coincided with the rise of the ideology of neo-liberalism the United States and other large capitalist powers. The term 'neo-liberal globalisation' is used to describe the way Western governments and multinational financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund have sought to open the economies of Third World nations like Tonga to exports and foreign investment.

In the twenty-first century, both the IMF and nations like the US urge Tonga to undertake new reforms to make its economy still more open to foreign goods and investors. Tonga has been urged, for instance, to change its constitution so that its land can be sold to foreign investors.

Neo-liberal globalisation came to New Zealand as well as Tonga in the 1980s and '90s, as successive governments removed the state ownership and regulatory frameworks which had insulated the local economy from the global capitalist market. In Tonga as well as New Zealand, neo-liberalism has been a controversial doctrine. We will examine the Tongan and Kiwi experiences of neo-liberal globalisation.

5. Thinking differently: intellectual and artistic pioneers in Tonga and New Zealand

Both New Zealand and Tonga have produced many significant intellectuals, but the first modern intellectual movements to appear in the two countries could hardly be more different from one another.

In 1930s New Zealand, a group of young writers and artists declared themselves cultural nationalists, and began to produce work which emphasised New Zealand's distance from the rest of the world, and the need to produce uniquely New Zealand forms of expression.
Tonga's first major modern intellectual movement coalesced around Futa Helu and his 'Atenisi Institute. Where New Zealand's cultural nationalists emphasised the isolation of the South Pacific from the rest of the world, and the inadvisability of trying to use northern hemisphere ideas to deal with South Pacific experience, Helu and other 'Atenisians believed that Tongans needed to strengthen their society by assimilating some of the concepts of classical Europe. Helu abhorred the notion of a uniquely Pacific style of writing or art, and argued that the region should be one of the tributary streams feeding a 'world culture' that includes Plato and Italian opera as well as tapacloth and the lakalaka. Tongan intellectuals who have worked outside the 'Atenisi tradition, like the social anthropologist and satirist Epeli Hau'ofa, have also tended to reject the notion of Tongan cultural nationalism.

Relating Tongan and New Zealand intellectuals to the history of their respective nations, we will discuss why the Kiwi cultural nationalists and the Tongans have differed so dramatically over so many issues.

6. Oceanic currents: Tongans and Kiwis abroad

In his classic essay 'Our Sea of Islands' Epeli Hau'ofa discussed the massive movements of people which have been such a feature of postcolonial Pacific history. Hau'ofa argued that, far from fleeing their cultures or selling out to capitalism, Polynesians who move to large foreign cities in search of work and other opportunities are breaking out of the narrow political and conceptual boxes colonialism made for them, and resuming the tradition of inter-island travel which flourished in pre-colonial times. Why, Hau’ofa indignantly asked, should people be criticised for refusing to be bound by lines on a map made by their colonisers? Why shouldn’t they take themselves and their culture wherever they want?

Today increasing numbers of New Zealanders are leaving their nation, and seeking work in Australia or other larger and more prosperous countries. There is controversy about this emigration, with some older Kiwis seeing it as a betrayal. What can New Zealand learn from Tonga, a country which has for decades now watched its young men and women fly off to larger nations offering more opportunities?

[Posted by Maps/Scott]