Tuesday, February 11, 2014

'More delusional than Darwin': arguing about the past with Tongan Mormons

A researcher from Maori television’s Native Affairs programme called me last week to ask for some help with a feature on the gang of politically motivated pseudo-historians who insist, against all of the evidence, that white people – Celts, or Vikings, or Phoenicians, or even immigrants from some distant planet - settled New Zealand thousands before the ancestors of Maori, and created a technologically sophisticated and peaceable civilisation here.

From 2008 to 2012 I wrote a number of pieces on the pseudo-historians for this blog and other sites, and even appeared on radio once or twice to discuss the phenomenon, but because I lived in Tonga I lost touch with their activities. I warned Native Affairs that Matthew Dentith, whose meticulous and perhaps masochistic investigations into all manner of curious beliefs have been rewarded with a book contract by a top academic publisher, was probably a better source on the recent antics of the ‘whites were here first’ crowd.

I have to admit that a year in Tonga has made me resigned to, if not sanguine about, the phenomenon of pseudo-history. For reasons I can’t now remember, I had imagined that the malady was confined to my white-skinned, traditionally imperialistic tribe, and that once I’d despatched myths of pyramids in the Waipoua Forest and observatories on the hilltops of Auckland it would be more or less cured. After a year of sitting around kava circles hearing stories about drowned cities in the Pacific, ancient UFO bases in the Tongan countryside, and the Lamanite founders of Polynesia, I no longer imagine that fantastic and imperiocentric versions of history are the preserve of palangi culture.
A couple of weeks ago I discovered a discussion about the history of the Pacific at the Tonga Topix site, after one the participants in the discussion mistakenly cited a post on this blog as evidence for his views.
Many of the people arguing at the Tongan Topix site appeared to be Mormons from Western Polynesia, and I doubted whether they’d have much sympathy for a monolingual palangi atheist who turned up to tell them that their narrative of the past, with its epic migration to the Americas and the Pacific by the people of the Old Testament, was wrong. At the same time, I didn’t like the idea that my blog had suddenly become a cog in the vast and creaky machine of Mormon historiography.
Here are some excerpts from the long and less than fruitful argument I ended up having at Tonga Topix.
Uiha wrote:
we polynesians r seed of Joseph that was sold to Egypt…we r part of da 12 tribes of Israel, point blank folks ,if we come frm asia wouldn't we be lookin slant eyed…we look more like native americans
Scott wrote:
Nobody claims a close connection between Han Chinese or Japanese and Polynesians. Have a look at an Ainu person or at one of the indigenous people of Taiwan. They look rather like Polynesians. There's overwhelming genetic, linguistic, and archaeological evidence to support the idea that Polynesians are, like the Ainu and the indigenous Taiwanese, descendants of the Austronesian people who emerged from Asia four or five thousand years ago. The evolution of Polynesian culture took place in the region we now call Polynesia.

Samonga wrote:
I don't think original Polynesians were Asians...however, they did mix later on... you can't really rule out migrations from South America as some of our myth migrations kinda fits in with what Uiha is talking about? The mayans believe in a descending God...so do Polynesians...Maybe it’s a mayan belief that we believe in a descending God from the heavens? Maybe the descending God is Jesus?

Uiha wrote:
mr hamilton no body knos wer polynesian people originated frm ,u n sum scientists claim we came frm asia, a slant eyed culture ,how absurd is that POLYNESIANS DON"T LOOK ASIANS…u all delusional ,frm theorizin n guessin wer polys come frm ,jussa like da numnut darwin dat say man come frm apes…u all more delusional than darwin

Scott wrote:
Once again, Uiha, the ancestors of the Polynesians, the Austronesian peoples who came out of mainland Asia and Taiwan five thousand or so years ago, are not the same people as the Han Chinese, the Japanese, the Koreans, and so on. Google some images of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan, or the indigenous peoples of Taiwan.
David Burley has dated Lapita pottery pulled from sites along Tongatapu's Fanga'uta lagoon at close to three thousand years old. Are you suggesting that the people who settled at Nukuleka and elsewhere on the lagoon were the same people in the Bible, which records events which are supposed to have occurred about three thousand years ago? How did they travel across the world, develop a distinct material culture, and set up shop in Tonga?
The sad thing is that Tongans who buy into this stuff are recycling the myths concocted by discredited white men like Heyerdahl and the early Mormons. They've internalised a false version of their history, and ignored the data unearthed by both palangi and Polynesian scientists over the last century.
You claim that people only arrived in the Americas about three thousand years ago. It's hard to know where to begin replying to such a notion, but it might be worth mentioning Monte Verde, a site in southern Chile which has become famous for being the oldest known human settlement in the Americas. Monte Verde has been extensively excavated, and scientists have dated it using radiocarbon techniques, the analysis of pollen spore, and stratigraphy. They estimate it was settled about twelve thousand years ago. 

Tongagodz wrote:
I looked into this Mormon claim to descendants of the ancient people of the Americas voyaging to the isles of the Sea and their time frame would have been about 550 AD and there were more than one voyage there and back and these people were coming to live it wasn't an expedition... from what we know to be true about our ancient people, that came from the Gods and we were fair skin folks w a bridge to our nose n t average height for a man was 6ft. So, of science can improve upon all that we welcome it.

Samonga wrote:
Anything is possible? Polynesians in early days were noted to be fair skinned people? I’m just stating possibilities n questions as we wont know the truth until we depart from this life. With Asians going into Tonga these days,4 generations from now and the next DNA sample will have Tongans under Asia n their descendants will be taught they came from Asia...

Scott wrote:
We can observe the histories of many Pacific societies and see evidence of migrations changing the material culture and ideas. For example, we can look at Kiribati and note the names of Samoan mountains that turn up there, despite the flatness of the landscape, or we can look at the way that a Tongan vocabulary has overwhelmed the substrate of a non-Tongic language in Niuafo'ou.
It is reasonable, on the basis of evidence like this, to suppose a Samoan migration to Kiribati and a Tongan migration to Niuafo'ou. But where are the thousands of American words in Tongan and other Polynesian languages? Where are the tools made in American styles, out of American stone? Where is the DNA?

Tongagodz wrote:
tonga has pyramid tombs for the ancient kings…pyramid building for interning deceased royals is not an Asian fang, it reeks biblical…Lapita people were water folks they weren't into building these type of structure…There's no way that these ocean folks could evolved on they own into these types skills necessary to accomplish out pf nowhere in the middle of the ocean such remarkable accomplishments. 
Scott wrote:

The notion that some cultures are static, and can’t change without contact with superior people from distant regions of the world, belongs to nineteenth century European thought. Whether or not they receive stimulus from outside, cultures change continually in all sorts of ways. Aotearoa had very little if any contact with the rest of Polynesia, and yet Maori society in the North Island evolved profoundly in a few short centuries, moving from a virtually hunter gatherer basis to a sedentary basis and seeing the construction of monumental sites. In the Chathams things moved in the other direction, as the Moriori evolved a simpler culture to deal with an extreme environment.

In his classic book The Evolution of the Polynesian Chiefdoms Patrick Vinton Kirch tries to create a theoretical framework in which the changes that Pacific societies went through can be understood. He emphasises the growth of population and the depletion of resources on small islands, and links these events to the growth of hierarchy and to warfare. It's no surprise Tonga, with its fertile soil but limited area, became very hierarchical and martial over the centuries.

If you're going to claim that the Lapita people didn't develop into Tongans, but instead were helped out by a migration of American people, then you need to show us the material, genetic, and linguistic evidence for such an event. The shoreline of Fanga'uta lagoon has been extensively excavated, and we have a clear picture of the layers of materials found there. Where is the layer of materials - tools, weapons, and so on - that hails from the Americas? Where are the American words in Tongan? Where is the non-Austronesian DNA?

Samonga wrote:
So what if they didn't find anything in Nukuleka? There’s evidence but still hidden under ground n evidence at the bottom of the seabed...pity uz cant get there, like getting to the bottom of the waters between Eua n Tongatapu… Tonga didnt have the resources or tools say what the Americas had...but they adapted with what they had? They had no massive rock slabs so they got it from Uvea...they wanted bigger boats so they chop the trees in the Lau group...who taught dem? Obviously some foreigners came with this knowledge, they were also sun worshippers...

Uiha wrote:
not only do we have physicle evidence ,but spiritual evidence, JESUS CHRIST appeared to da people of da americas,n established his church among them n the LORD taught them of the FATHER IN HEAVEN ,n ordained them with the HOLY PRIESTHOOD ,n da HOLY CHOST,n wen JESUS ascended to da sky,the LORD promised dat he will return,the native americans speak of da great white spirit wen da europeans came to da north americas ,n da actec montezuma made a fatal mistake by mistaking Cortez as da great white god dat promised to return frm da sky, n in Tonga captain was told of da OTUA dat lived in PULOTU(HEAVEN),daannngggg we all jussa conected da dots n proved we originated frm america ,n da BOOK OF MORMON is a true account of da people of da americas,n THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST AND OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS is da true church of CHRIST that was established by JESUS here on da americas n was written on GOLDEN PLATES that GOD gave to JOSEPH SMITHin the name of JESUS CHRIST HALLELUJAH praise da LORD amen

Jestr wrote:
Tongans are mixed, many of us got mela and poly blood, due to karate kung fuing all over the pacific. It is mainly Sa's that claim to be pure polys. Evidence is evidence buddy, you came from down through south east Asia.

Scott wrote:
The idea that Tongans had to wait around for some pale-skinned South Americans to turn up and teach them how to create monumental architecture is not credible. There are numerous examples of societies developing such architecture on their own. There was no need to go to 'Uvea, because of the supplies of beach rock in Tonga. The quarries on Pangaimotu, Fafa, and Hihifo beaches show that plenty of rock was taken locally. Some stone might have come from 'Uvea, but by that time monumental architecture would have been well and truly established.
Samonga claims that the excavations of archaeologists at Nukuleka and other places in present-day Tonga are worthless, because the ancient people that came from the Americas settled on islands that have since sunk to the bottom of the sea.
There are two problems with this idea. In the first place, a lot of study on the geology of Tonga has been done, and we know which islands were where thousands of years ago. Maps of the palaeoshoreline of Tongatapu, for example, show how much of present-day Nuku'alofa was underwater when the Lapita people arrived close to three thousand years ago. There was less, not more, land in Tonga thousands of years ago, because sea levels were higher, so the only way an island could have existed then and sunk since is through some sort of volcanic eruption or earthquake. I'm not aware of any evidence for such an event. If it occurred then it would surely have left a tephra, or layer of debris, in the soil for excavators to find.

Let's assume, though, for the sake of argument, that a large number of Americans came to Tonga long ago, built a civilisation on an island, and then saw that civilisation disappear. The problem of the lack of evidence for any sort of influence from the Americans on Tongans remains. Where is the American DNA in Tongans? Where are the American artefacts? Where are the American words? Perhaps it could be argued that the Americans stayed on one remote island, had no contact with Tongans, and then disappeared without a trace under the water. But even if that outlandish scenario were assumed to be true, the fact would still remain that there is no discernible trace of American influence on Tongan culture or in Tongan blood.

I can only assume that those who want to make Americans into the ancestors of Tongans have religious reasons.

Tongagodz wrote:
l will make a claim that upon discovering Tonga some witnesses inquired about a set of stones steps found right on to Nuku'alofa warf, that was really high and it turns out they were remnants of a pyramid t size of t ones in S America it was said it was made in a zigzag form exactly like ancients Americas n Egypt. Bcoz of natural disasters it sustained damage n t natives slowly took the stones for personal use and later it was probably destroyed.

Maorigurl wrote:
Hi Scott, I'm reading through a lot of your comments & blogs & what I wanted to ask you is; You put a lot of emphasis in theories from scholars & discoverers, papers & journals but I see nothing from traditional polynesian methods. We are all cultures which hand down our skills & history by word of mouth, stories, dance, song, folklore & teaching none of which you mention, does this mean it is not a valid source for you?
Just so you understand my point I have learnt everything I know about my culture in the first instance in this way & continue to learn by this method & now papers, theories etc in which I try to align what I already know. How is it that our most powerful source of knowledge handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth (which could essentially describe journals are but read generations later with no one to fill in the questions or the small details) not also be included in our assumptions, validations of how we come to be?

Uiha wrote:
foreigners need to stop theorizin about our proud heritage

Scott wrote:
Hi Maorigurl, you make a fair point. I accept that there is a disconnect between the motives and methods that many Polynesian have when they talk about their history and the motives and methods of most academics investigating the ancient history of the Pacific. Academics often want dates, and like rigorous empirical methods, whereas folks telling stories round the kava bowl rely on oral history, songs and so on, and are less interested, in my experience, in getting some precise date for an event than in making some sort of point to their listeners.

But I don't think this is necessarily an ethnically-based difference, because some of the key academics studying Pacific history are Polynesian, and the fact is that many palangi - the palangi who live in the rural region of NZ where I grew up, for instance - also have little interest in academic study of the past, rely on oral tradition, and are less interested in getting the dates right than making some practical point.

The Tongan historian Sione Latukefu did a lot of oral history in Tonga, but wrote a famous essay insisting that this evidence had to be backed up with other types of evidence, like the written record or archaeological data. And Te Rangi Hiroa/Sir Peter Buck seems to have taken a similar position.

I think that oral history can help us understand a culture, but I am sceptical about how much we can rely on it for facts. It seems to me that when people tell a story they are telling you about how they see the event they are describing, and that this is what is valuable. Whether the event occurred in the way they describe, or occurred at all, is another question. I think there are particular problems with trying to use oral history to establish chronologies of past events. It's amazing how quickly dates get muddled when stories pass from mouth to mouth.

A student of mine was doing a history of his village of Kala'au, and some of his informants discussed the visit of a group of scientists interested in the huge rock that sits near their homes. The scientists visited in 2008, but the villagers, when talking to my student last year, thought they had turned up in 2004.
Last November I visited the village Kolomaile on 'Eua and talked with some of the elders there about the raid on 'Ata by slavers, which occurred in 1863. The elders dated the event to 1887.
I think that people like Uiha show the importance of getting the facts of the past right, even if, as you point out, the facts aren't all that matter when we think about and talk about the past.
[Posted by Scott Hamilton]


Blogger Matthew R. X. Dentith said...

That is really, really interesting (and, sadly, not just a view found in Tonga; I know of Cook Islanders who proclaim similar views and I recently heard the claim that the Austronesian language family derives from Sanskrit).

I'm also curious as to what happened to the Native Affairs thing, given that they never made contact with me. You've obviously got more street cred on the topic than I!

12:34 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

A lot of people have these confused notions. In many ways it is because, for religious or other reasons, they want these things to be true. Many Polynesians actually see the "white culture" as superior to their own (as do many Europeans). Many have a deep seated inferiority complex about this. Deep down or other wise they see "black people" as being inferior. it is an idea that derives from European racial theories taken over later by the Nazis but already promulgated, via readings or misreadings of the bible (Genesis, with Ham etc and all the way to the pretty psychotic Book of Revelations). They come from Genesis and other things and derive fantastic coincidences (meanwhile no one has ever witnessed a miracle, like say Jesus Christ bringing someone back to life but nowadays scientists and doctors do it all the time).

So they read the Bible, listen to the Mormon elders or whoever, and it confirms, in many cases their inherent racism which derives from this insecurity and lack of pride in their own incredible past.

A friend of mine who is Maori and is pretty smart, studied accountancy etc and made a lot of money, started trotting out some fantastic and unrealistic versions of history, supposedly from "word of mouth" (which is what the Bible, the Koran and all those other fairy stories are based on really, mixed with some history: but mostly it is not of much use in "how to behave" or even "how to die" or in deciphering history or even ontological or "spiritual" mysteries...

If you asked say Tama Iti if he thought we were populated by White Europeans he would be quite upset!

The fact is that the majority of people of this earth are dark skinned for the reason that we all derive from Africa, and thus our basic pigmentation, caused by the % of melanin in the skin, is a function of how close we are to direct sunlight - that is being dark skinned in places where there are strong levels of UV light equates to survival in long term. The Chinese had the first and possibly the most advanced of all the civilizations long before the Europeans had emerged from savagery (but THEY didn't colonize Polynesia!) ...

One of your correspondents hasn't even read any evolutionary theory and thinks Darwin said we had descended from apes. This was never claimed. Humans descended about 2 million years ago from a lemur-like creature.

These people have very little knowledge of much except what the bible bashers tell them, which is a pity. Many of them are lazy.

I'm sick of these stupid Mormons and religious crackpots polluting young minds with crazy ideas. The Moslems and many other religious organizations are not much better.

But it is an uphill battle as racism is probably here to stay and is not limited to Europeans. I worked with Maori who referred to Samoans etc as "bungas" and "blacks", when I protested to one young Maori that he himself was Polynesian he was quite vociferous in denying that he was a "dirty black".

Mind you, most of the white working class tradesmen I worked with were strongly and sometimes irredeemably racist.

Racism might be o.k. if it reflected any truth, but it is unfortunately so often simply wrong - illogical. In that sense it can be dangerous. Whether Tonga was populated by Americans may not be critical but the fear or misconception that all humans are not fundamentally the same, is dangerous.

3:28 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Re pigmentation it explains why some people in the far North of the world are relatively dark skinned as near the poles the levels of UV are often higher that about 20, 30, or 40 degrees South (hence the Laplanders and the fact that some Scots are dark skinned - and others in Northern Europe or Russia etc)...

The Bible does a lot of damage equating "blackness" and "badness" or "evil" (whatever any of these terms really mean).

3:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

also classism...working class brown people aren't allowd t create their own reality...oh no must stick with ESTABLISHED versions...WHY????

5:27 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Isn't what just "racism"? Scott's story or my reply? How is it "racism"?

Who said anyone couldn't create their own reality?

The problem is, is it reality? And: what is reality.

It doesn't matter who you are - you can hide behind being Maori or Polynesian - in the long run we in the world have to come to a general consensus about a working reality. My being a European doesn't mean that there isn't a certain workable reality other than mythology. You can get a "natural" or non-European "cure" for appendicitis (and probably die in agony) but I will go to a doctor, whether he be Maori or European as long as he is using commonsense or good science. I certainly wont call into one of those mumbo jumbo Chinese medicine places that claim to cure everything with dodgy herbs or acupuncture etc

We are all much the same. "Brown people" have no privileges here now this is New Zealand. Tonga is Tonga. If you want to believe a fantasy don't push it on others if it is probably false.

It is time this nonsense about culture and the rest of it was canned and we all got down to business...

Maps is onto it.

6:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

reality is how it is DEFINED

your racist definition CONFINES me


the past can be changed just as easily as the future...to change is to make LIBERATION

7:12 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Interesting! And you are? Walter Mitty?

7:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

read and LEARN

A recent internet film has focused on the power of attraction to create wealth. Contrary what many think, wealth isn't our most important issue. Freedom is of the highest importance when the entire world is at stake. When freedom is taken away, so it will be with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom is the essence of all that we are, and the basic source of happiness. Anyone doubting freedom as a top priority should look at the history of the people of the old Soviet Union, eastern block countries and East Germany. They were born, lived and died in an oppressive, paranoid existence that's hard to grasp. Yet today, there exists a group of self-appointed world dictators that want to re-create that old style tyranny on a permanent basis for the entire planet. As many have already described it - a prison planet without bars. We don't have to accept that destiny, for the mind is a force on earth that when properly directed is greater than all the dictators combined. Please understand that this essay isn't about the power of positive thinking, even though it is somewhat related. The difference here is that the power of positive thinking is often just a surface feeling and attitude, while covering up an internal sense of hopelessness deep in the soul. [1] Several experiments have proven that we can change reality, and later I'll give you one you can try yourself. rense.com

7:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so...the past CAN be changed...even more than the future...OK????

7:42 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Hi Matthew and Richard,

thanks for the input. I have the sculptor Sio Siasau staying at the moment, and he tells me that at least one of my interlocutors is probably a relative of his!
He feels that the view that Tonga was settled from the Americas is confined to Mormons, who comprise 12-25% of the population (stats on religious affiliation are argued over vigorously in Tonga), but I have heard variations on the argument that Tongans are God's people from non-Mormons - variations which substitute things like UFOs and continental drift for the Hagoth story the Mormons tell.

I have the impression that there is a certain instability to the theory the Tongan Mormons offer: on the one hand, it piggybacks on 'orthodox' Mormonism and on Heyerdahl by talking of an ancient white race bringing gifts across the sea; on the other hand, it aggrandises Tonga's pre-Cook civilisation, by linking that civilisation with the glories of the Mayans and the Israelites. The conventional Mormon view that the Polynesians were degenerated Israelites, whose skin had been turned dark because of their sins, has been forgotten, and we are presented with the triumphal progress of a race of god-men. The darkness, both literal and figurative, in the story comes from the indigenes that the Israelites found when they arrived in Tonga, who were, according to my interlocutors, either Lapita or Melanesian. If Tonga was less than perfect when Cook arrived, it is because of these folk.

Perhaps the weirdest aspect of the whole argument is the assertion that the Tongans Cook meant were more or less Christian, even if they had forgotten some aspects of the gospel and been partially corrupted by pagans during their long exile from Israel.

8:45 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Before I comment on the above I could mention that I met up again with a chap (Oscar Mooseman) who I think is part Tongan and is also Mormon, he went to Tamaki College in the 60s, was very intelligent, and in fact it was rumoured that his brother became a criminal as while he was great at maths etc he "failed" at English in School Certificate. Now this reflects a truth about the problems immigrants face requiring to be proficient in English.

The rest of the 'story' is a bit of or more part of the local legend (as of the legend of Simmonds...perhaps another day): but in any case I had a conversation with him about religion and philosophy and his ideas are more flexible than most Mormons I have met...and he is a nice fellow, I saw him again today in GI...

9:17 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I mean he and I were at the same school although at the time I only had heard of his brother I think.

ALSO - Maps - I have posted here (below) my long delayed "review" of Smithyman's 'Campana to Montale'


I'll put this up on FB. I have other stuff on this "parallel Blog" - that is // to EYELIGHT and a part of it.

9:20 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

'Oscar Mooseman'

What a name! Incidentally, Sio has just been telling me how much he enjoys reading your comments on this blog, Richard. He says they're giving him ideas for artworks..

10:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the Book of Mormon, Hagoth (/ˈheɪ.ɡɑːθ/[1]) was a Nephite ship builder who lived in or around 55 BCE. At least two of the ships he built were lost. The occupants of one ship were presumed drowned. Hagoth and his shipbuilding accomplishments are briefly described in the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon:

5 And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward.

6 And behold, there were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they took their course northward. And thus ended the thirty and seventh year.
7 And in the thirty and eighth year, this man built other ships. And the first ship did also return, and many more people did enter into it; and they also took much provisions, and set out again to the land northward.

8 And it came to pass that they were never heard of more. And we suppose that they were drowned in the depths of the sea. And it came to pass that one other ship also did sail forth; and whither she did go we know not. (Alma 63:5-8)
Differentiating between scriptural and apocryphal accounts of Hagoth and his ships, one LDS writer makes the following observations:

The Book of Mormon does not equate the “west sea” with the Pacific Ocean. The Book of Mormon does not tell us that Hagoth was on board any of the ships that were lost. Scripture does not say that he captained a vessel or that he was an explorer or an adventurer, or that he led people. For all we can tell, the skilled Hagoth’s main objective was to profit from the shipping industry. It is possible for peoples in various places to be related to Hagoth’s people (the Nephites) without Hagoth personally making an ocean voyage. Coastal and Island hopping colonies, once associated with Nephite shipping, could have built more vessels and traveled very far. It is also important to realize that the peoples of the Pacific islands may have come from more than one direction.[2]

Non-scriptural sources suggest that Hagoth led an expedition, sailing into the Pacific Ocean from the Americas. Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[3][4] and scholars[who?] have stated that the peoples of the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, Polynesia, and New Zealand, are descendants of the Nephite Hagoth and his supposed followers.[5] According to the Book of Mormon, the Nephites were descendants of Israel. Many rank and file members of the LDS church in Polynesia have come to believe that Hagoth is their ancestor.[6] Non-Mormon scholars largely dismiss this hypothesis, citing genetic, archaeological, and anthropological evidence which indicates that Polynesian peoples come from Maritime Southeast Asia.[citation needed] Even if the Polynesian peoples were largely descended from Malaysian roots, this would not preclude the possibility of some incidental admixture from other cultures and peoples. One problem with considering Polynesia to be at least partly peopled by "Nephite" descendants is that the Book of Mormon itself does not insist upon the point, and there is likewise no official doctrine in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints covering it.[citation needed]

10:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many Mormons[who?] believe that the Polynesian people originated from the descendents of Hagoth who led his people off on a ship and was never heard from again. Although Hagoth was a Nephite, these Mormons regard Polynesians as Lamanites.

10:51 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Yes, the Mooseman's knew my friend Glenn Turner (not the cricketer) with whom I played chess - who was also part German but not any Polynesian as far as I know. I'm glad Sio likes the comments. There is a lot going on here - for example this chap is talking about changing reality and then asserts not only power of positive thinking...well if he means some psychological value he is onto something as I wouldn't disparage positive thinking as such but it is confused with changing reality which starts to veer into Philosophy. The terms aren't defined.

I was interested in Thor Heyerdahl as a teenager but I knew even then that he might have a a kind of racist agenda, but perhaps not 'consciously', and I loved his book about Easter Island - now Bronowski, who is great in 'The Ascent of Man' (I know the title is a worry) but he is really worth reading - but he is sometimes quite adamantly Eurocentric (although he has a lot of depth elsewise)...he hates the stupidity of the statues - their appearance - but that is one thing I cant coincide on. In one of his books Heyerhdahl talks of getting locals at Easter Island to raise a statue. It actually undercuts such as von Daniken as they succeed, and it shows who, indeed, it would be relatively easy for humans to build the pyramids. There is no mystery as to how they were built to anyone who knows engineering or has built anything! Heyerdahl actually shows this...

But he himself I am sure concedes he didn't conclusively prove a migration...but his voyage is quite epic all the same!

Another local (Pakeha, Palangi) who is boat builder tried to tell me that Maori are inferior...but I said no, they are of a people who had a great civilisation throuhout the Pacific and I think it was in Buck I read they had basically named just about every rock. European explorers had to ask for help to locate places...and from memory in the time prior to good timing systems they often didn't know where the longitudes were - Polynesian sailors and others (Melanesian etc) traveled just about the entire Pacific...the boat builder (who has a Maori wife or girlfriend!) told me the Egyptians populated NZ!

It is chronic. What i hate is that the logical possibilities of doubt are eliminated by these guys. INtersintingly though we are also in an area where questions of knowledge acquisition - how do we know things, starts to become important.

There is a danger in bashing people over the head with facts and DNA evidence etc

Important though is a book I read by Bodmer etc on evolution and biology and in that he showed that the genetic difference between say Europeans within Europe are greater than the differences between Europeans and Africans - to give one example.

Now as a poet I can also see other sides to these things, and the question of origin, ultimate origin, is deeper for me than any organised religion can delve into. It is in fact what the theologians refer to as Mystery.

I cant see Sio's art easily but I will keep a look out for it via libraries. I saw John Pule briefly at Bob's launch. I remember him telling me how he went mad with his first poetry book, he walked all over Auckland selling it, even at petrol stations...There are some great Polynesian artists and writers - why do these people need confirmation that they are "special" - on my first chap book I wrote that I was descended from the Big Bang! (I was making a dig at Sullivan's claims on his book to be from (some Maori tribe) and of Irish descent - a double whammy! I'm only of English descent! Not much of interest there for the PC brigade: but I veer away from Morrisseyism !!

11:04 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

5 And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward.

Some of these things are strangely beautiful. I was reading this and I read '..launched it forth into the wet sea..' no insult or anything I do this a lot when reading. It is a kind of creative dyslexia. I thought of rewriting some texts with deliberate misreadings... (Sladek, or Thurber? - you have to read your Thurber and your Edward Lear!)

But I think it comes also from the fact that anyone who comes to learn to read and write and who in the past didn't - it applies to us all - will deeply value and venerate the word. These biblical stories are hypnotically powerful in a way that "dry science" cant be...the B of M reads somewhat like Bunyan. The language, Bach's music or the music of hymns, it is all very powerful... This is why the chapter St John that starts "In the beginning was the word..." I think word was Logos (it was translated from the Greek I think)...and this is the kind of thing that both enhances our art and cultures and bedevils it. Hence perhaps, inter alia, Smithy's "We stand in language..."

11:17 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

This, all this is why I did that portrait of the (I think he was Cook Islander originally) based on his quiet story of sadness that his church was to be moved. I left his face white not for ethnic reasons but to give contrast and I had "rays" going toward his face...now that devotion to religion or what I call Mystery I can understand.

But when it is associated with negative thoughts and ideas that the Tongans or anyone else really needed Christianity it is sad. We may all need some kind of "spirituality" but we don't need to link ourselves with "The Israelites" etc

Another neighbour is Turkish and he hates Chinese and anyone from say Iran (they are all terrorists) and there is nothing good from China, they never had anything, it all originated from Anatolia!! - but this guy is not such a bad bloke, his problem is that he has this tortuously complex "history" that somehow links the English with the Hittites and all these strange mythopoeic "histories" of how the Polynesians arrived: it is all massively convoluted and mixed with his valorization of the US and Nato forces and Attaturk (who in some ways was a progressive)...

It is all a way of validatiing what he sees as his own failures in his life. People hang onto some myth of their origin rather than accepting that they are part of a large family of beings, including animals, living now, not thousands of years ago in Egypt or Israel or wherever...

This means also in his case that he can avoid changing himself in any positive way (learning to speak better English - his English is pretty bad despite he has been here for years - learning to learn about his neighbours (his are Tongans and they put real Turkey bones in his garden!))

...so it goes on the sad disjunctive tale...

11:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

u have far little or no faith in god , very weak and u probably be the first to sell your soul to the devil, harden up and read the bible, your weakness makes Satan smile , farg u icehell , im glad u not my friend lol

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4:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'harden up and read the bible'


richard take heed...

4:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

666=6protons, 6nuetrons, 6electrons=carbon=black=te kore=pure energy of the universe=SUN=FACT

5:28 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Are you saying that St. John the Evangelist was a nuclear physicist and was "in advance" of Dalton, and other chemists and scientists?

I think this 666 has been translated (probably from Greek) and the number now is associated with apocalypse of some devil or whatever.

One problem I have with a conventional Christian God - is why all the horror, the misery? Children quite young dying from terrible diseases, people of all ages dying often in the most atrocious ways...

If there is this God, who can actually "organise" everything: then why is all so messy, so complex and often so seemingly meaningless? No one has come back from the dead that I've spoken to.

The "miracles" of Jesus Christ are clearly legends recorded by those wanting to push Christianity. These myths and legends, beautiful as they are, were kept by the Church in the Vatican and, as Christianity increased in its inherents, theses miracles were declared to be true. In fact anything that fitted the superstitions of religion was made "sacred". For hundreds of years it was kept as a kind of secret power as it was in Latin and no one really knew what the priests werre talking about.

The big trump card for Christians is death: they can terrrorise people, especially ill-educated people, into believing they will burn forever in hell etc and thus it means they can keep their power.

None of this proves them wrong but these are the kind of questions of the arguments for and against God you will find in any basic Philosophy text book. They are very old ideas and they repeat in many superstitions...

In Ancient Iraq one of their "religious" books included a story of a flood. Why? Because wherever civilisation developed was near or associated with rivers (the Tigris and Euphrates, the Nile, the Yangtze: and these all flood, which means that silt is taken from the river and this helps to fertilize the surrounding soil so food can be grown and cattle grazed etc - hence the origin of so many flood myths...similarly the Greeks had many myths of sacrifice etc Dionysius or even (if you read C.K. Stead's book 'My Name was Judas' (in that book Judas was actually NOT the betrayer of Christ but in fact Christ basically betrayed him, in fact Judas comes across as a nice bloke while Christ is arrogant and a bull shit artist - but in that book Stead points to Diogenes and his followers)...

As to the Bible, I have read it. My sister took to religion but my parents (and my other two siblings) were atheists and nothing very bad happened to them, they had a good life here in NZ.

I have my own world view.

It seems to me that one of the big enemies of progress in places such as Tonga is ignorance and Religion (not religion, that is something else) or the Church, which combination is why so little progress is made by many. Problems of one's life and others can be "left to God"...it is also used to keep young Tongans and others from thinking for themselves: they become Repeaters, repeating other peoples ideas instead of thinking for themselves.

6:35 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

It's good to know that Sio is interested in my comments Scott! Jack's mother said she liked my comments on Jack's Blog! So I think of her, especially now his father is dead, when I comment...all the best to your artist friend and yourself...

I sit here typing and what do I hear: some of the sons of Moses (not THE Moses!) whooping and laughing...I may as well be in Tonga...on my other side and behind me are Samoan and Maori and over the road Indian, a few European families,a Turkishman down the road, Chinese here and there, and a few Dalis and Palangi dotted about: and people who are poor and others who own houses worth more than $1 million! There are also people from Africa and the Middle East: not much need to travel!

6:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are some real nutters here.

I feel for Richard trying to reply to them.

10:13 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Thanks anon but I think this invokes the old question thing that when we are all honest with ourselves we all have these strange ideas etc remember Sartre, great Resistance fighter, writer, philosopher, haled as hero in France? But at times he imagined he was being followed along the road by various strange creatures including lobsters and armadillos!!

Karl Marx used to dress up as Napoleon and insist that Engels dance naked with him!! Or he would dress up as carrot and recite The Lord's Prayer backwards while trying to sing Goethe's 'Faustus'!! Incredible...(Great man as that bearded sage was...)

It is also not well known that JC was actually the Devil and has been reincarnated as Kim dot com. This is truth as has been Revealed unto me.

10:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the past theorising that polynesians were aryan or whatever served imperialist agendas. Right now theorising that Polynesians are Asian & there is such a place as asia-pacific serves imperialists current agendas

In the past Imperialists claimed their race theories were scientific so stupid natives couldn't argue. now they claim their genetic or linguistic theories are scientific.

In the past whites used christianity to destroy indigenous societies. Societies survived, whites became post-xian & now want to destroy them again to make them conform to their current ideas.

Basically, Imperialists are still imperialists. Creepy white guys in the pacific still have their agendas, & still think they're objective . Indigenous people insisting on their right to define themselves & their own understanding of who they are still makes colonizers mad. In a few decades you'll have a new scientific theory which just conveniently happens to serve your new colonial agenda. It's not scientific, it's political.

7:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, I would confirm any ludicrous 1/2 arsed conspiracy theory before I would accept the authority of any white expert. The more ludicrous the better, fuck your scientific theories & colonial agendas.

7:42 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Anon, the most liberating force in the world is the truth. If people can analyse their world and draw conclusions from this analysis, then they have a chance of taking control of their destiny. If they languish in the mental prisons of absurd ideologies - ideologies created by self-interested parties, like the colonialist powers you profess to disdain - then they will have great trouble asserting their autonomy.

You're implicitly defending the use of ideologies - Heyerdahl's weird ideas, the Mormons' historiography - which have their origins in imperialist societies. I'm advocating for the use of reason and research to uncover the truth about the past. And I'm in good company - distinguished Polynesian scholars like Te Rangi Hiroa, Futa Helu, and Sione Latukefu made the same sort of points as me decades ago.

9:13 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

As an aside, I suggest you find out more about the geopolitics of the 21st C Pacific before you suggest that theories linking Polynesia to ancient Asia serve the interests of the 'white guys' of the West. You don't seem to have noticed that the US and its allies, including Oz and NZ, are engaged in an increasingly fierce struggle for hegemony in Tonga and other Pacific societies with China. If the 'out of Asia' theory of Polynesian origins had any political consequences - and I doubt very much whether it has any - those consequences certainly wouldn't help the West.

9:18 am  
Anonymous samonga said...

Lmao haha funny how you make the claim on my behalf yet didn't post my reason for saying why Tongans went to Uvea for Rock slabs lol We Polynesians brown n Proud and no,our original ancestors didn't come from Asia...don't care if we didn't come from America n im not Mormon ya heard? You need to realize the diff between possibilities, questions n claiming straight facts...You might as well put the topix link up so they can see for themselves lmao stop hiding in here come out to play in Tongan Forum hahaha

3:57 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

I did put a link in, Samonga, so folks could take a look for themselves, and you're always welcome to comment here.

Where do your reckon your ancestors came from if not Asia or the Americas?

7:13 pm  
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