Thursday, April 10, 2014

Felix Quail, the multiverse, and other real delusions

[In recent weeks, as Paul Janman and I have revitalised our film about the Great South Road, we have enjoyed the feedback from Rachel Fenton, the Barnsley writer and cartoonist who has somehow found herself marooned on Auckland’s North Shore. 

Rachel uses facebook to try to maintain her connection with the civilised world, and it was on facebook that Rachel and I discussed Felix Quail, a character that I have invented while working on the film with Paul. In the following transcript Rachel’s comments are given in bold type.]

We’ve made a lot of progress on the film over the last week, creating a fictional character called Felice Quail. Felice is a descendant of an older, weirder, somewhat discredited character named Felix Quail, who served as an operator at Pandora Radar Station in Spirits Bay during World War Two, and became obsessed with the idea that the signals he was sending out were interfering with the movement of souls over Cape Reinga towards the underworld. As they helped themselves down the cliff at the end of the island, using the branches of the ancient pohutakawa tree that stood there, the dead would be blasted with radar.

I don't think you need to invent a character - just ask around - people will throw their invented/embroidered histories at you.

The radar technicians of World War Two were taught to identify the 'fingerprints' of enemy operators, by attending carefully to the information and distortion that poured through their primitive machines. Quail, who had been raised in a small spiritualist church,  started to believe that, as he manned his machine through long stormy nights at Spirits Bay, he was getting signals from the dead, or the not-yet-living.

At the risk of repeating myself, again with the too much screen time! Lack of sleep is responsible for many invasions...I think you risk losing the authority of the factual material if you Jenner it up too much.

Quail was invalided out of the army and sent to Tokanui mental hospital to 'recover'. There he met a man who was to change his life - a bloke who was called Len Dalgety by the nurses and doctors who unsympathetically attended to him, but who insisted that he was really Kereopa Latu, a Tongan-Maori diplomat for the Federated Nations of Polynesia.

It's like Pat Barker's Regeneration, and then some.

Latu claimed that he had been living in a world where Maori had won the battle of Rangiriri and the rest of the New Zealand Wars, and had established, with the help of the kingdoms of Tonga and Hawaii, a Polynesian federation that kept colonists out of most of the Pacific. A few years after the victory at Rangiriri, the Paris Commune had led to revolutions across Europe and the establishment of a socialist federation there. 
In Latu's world, capitalism and imperialism were only practiced by a relatively isolated United States. Aotearoa had its capital in Ngaruawahia, and its diplomats and journalists liked to point to a small and quiescent Pakeha population and boast about their country’s enlightened race relations. Latu had sent many years representing the Polynesian federation in European cities. One morning, though, he woke up and found himself in a world where Maori had been defeated in the nineteenth century and marginalised in the twentieth, and where he was employed as a fencer on a dairy farm outside Morrinsville.

Utopian. Until the end.

Latu's story convinces Quail, who has been spending his leave days reading William James, as well as heterodox medieval thinkers like Grosseteste and Giordano Bruno, that we must live in a sort of multiverse, where there are many different timestreams. The signals Quail was picking up at Spirits Bay came from another stream. Quail has the uncanny sense that he is living in the 'wrong' reality, where history has taken a wrong turn or two.

Quail made me think of this. 

One day Latu disappears from Tokanui’s secure ward. The nurses and doctors tell Quail that his friend has jumped in the nearby Puniu River, that old boundary between the remnants of the Waikato Kingdom and colonialism, and drowned: Quail knows better. Latu has found a way back to his own timestream. Quail is almost unbearably envious.

We all have our boundaries and envy the freedoms we perceive others to have. Yet the freedoms we know we have, we refuse to share.

After his release from hospital, Quail begins to study, in a chaotic but enthusiastic manner, both the doctrines of modern physics and Polynesian legends about 'otherworlds' like Hawai’iki and Pulotu. He decides that portals to other timestreams can be found at the sites of  fateful historical events. These places have become liminal and fragile. 
Quail decides that the Great South Road is a likely site for 'portals', because it was the route made for the army that invaded the Waikato, and the site of several battles, including the seminal clash at Rangiriri. He begins to go up and down the road, pestering truckies and bus drivers with enquiries. He wants to know whether they have seen the ghostly activity that many Polynesian cultures associate with portals to otherworlds.

There are many ghost stories that regular travellers on the Great South Road and Highway One like to share; Quail collects them. He also begins to examine old photographs of the road and its environs. In the images made by the soldier-photographer William Temple, who marched down the Great South Road to war in 1863, Quail finds eerie blurs and fissures that might be evidence of extraordinary forces. 
In terms of having a framework for the film, I like it, but isn't it just another Euro-myth you're bunging into a cultural archive already pummelled with Pakeha jaunts of fantasy?

Quail begins to self-publish pamphlets outlining his theories, and invites support from the public. Gradually, through the process that Lenin described as 'the primitive accumulation of cadre', he assembles a circle of followers, and founds an organisation called the Taskforce for the Investigation of Paranormal Activity on Highway One, or TIPAHO. 

It's getting a bit 1980s.

It is the '80s by now! The elderly Quail and his followers cruise and film the road. They hand out leaflets urging members of the public to assist their 'objective scientific investigation'.

The activities of TIPAHO resemble those of Bruce Cathie and his followers in the '70s and '80s. Cathie acquired a cult international following after claiming, in a series of cryptic books, to have discovered a sort of energy grid formed by secret military bases and super-powerful ‘harmonic’ transmitters around Auckland. Cathie found transmitters in the Waikateres and also in suburban Auckland, and he linked these devices to a series of curious events, including an explosion at a factory in Avondale. After performing a series of inscrutable calculations using the ‘new science of harmonics’, Cathie declared that a UFO had crashed and exploded at the factory while doing repair work on Auckland's grid. 
Cathie and his followers produced some blurry photos of UFOs, which have curious similarities to the images made by William Temple with his collodion plate camera.

The UFO resembles the light fitting of my old driving intructor's smallest room.

It’s both disturbing and inspiring to know that Cathie actually existed. 

It fell off the ceiling, broke his toilet bowl yet remained intact. Disturbing and inspiring. My personal feeling, and the thing that's halted progress on my Great South Road poem, is that I think there are enough Pakeha trampling on that road.

Quail is preoccupied with the 1940s as well as the 1860s, and he begins to research some of the more esoteric aspects of New Zealand's war effort. He finds in Nicky Hager's marvellously detailed account of signals intelligence and secret radar stations during World War Two confirmation of his belief that the stations were intended partly to 'jam' transmissions from other timestreams, and thereby prevent inhabitants of other streams crossing over into our own.

Those ghosts, they aren't Cathie's, or ours.

Quail becomes preoccupied with the Guide Platoons founded in 1941, when NZ's political and military establishments were terrified by the Japanese advance south through the Pacific. The members of this enigmatic organisation, which is mentioned tersely and tantalisingly in Nancy Taylor’s massive history of the New Zealand Home Front, were recruited from amongst the ranks of the possumskinners and deerhunters who stalked NZ's backcountry. They were instructed to build secret bases, complete with radar and radio gear, in the bush and hills, and to prepare to wage guerrilla war.

The mist is thick.

A group of Guide Platooners was sent to reconnoitre the ancient forests of the Pureora Ranges in the centre of Te Ika a Maui. As they tramped around the isolated mountain of Titiraupenga, they came across a small clearing made by an earlier band of guerrilla fighters. In the clearing was a ruined marae. Inside the marae was a chest of rotten wood. Inside the chest was one of the battle flags Te Kooti carried through the bush (this stuff is all, or almost, true). 
These Platooners were out of contact with New Zealand's towns and cities, and were mindful that a Japanese invasion may already have taken place. They were thrown back suddenly into the 1860s - they had become, like Te Kooti and his band, indigenes sheltering in the forest from an invader. Quail became obsessed with this obscure episode in World War Two history, and came to see it as an example of the way that Pakeha could be redeemed and relieved of their status as invaders and appropriators.

Quail decided, then, that New Zealand could only be saved by its destruction. Pakeha could only form a true attachment to the soil they had appropriated, and a true sense of nationhood, if they were confronted by an invader. Just as the European threat had created a Maori nation in the 19th century, as organisations like the Kingitanga were formed by formerly fissiparous iwi, so a progressive Pakeha nation could be founded.

How does xenophobia redeem them? Oh, here are some more people we hate because, um, we're racist, so let's hide - ah, now we know how Pakeha made Maori feel. Great.

Quail resolved to recruit an army from another timestream and throw it though a portal onto the Great South Road, so that it could march on Auckland.

Did he not think to just tootle off down a portal? Would've been a shorter story.

He has moved away from individual escapism towards a collectivist solution to New Zealand’s problems. That’s the po-faced answer to your question.

Yes, he's cooking with gas. This is like the "Pope in the pool" lesson in exposition. I hope the twelve people following this post are reading all of these comments! Sit up, kids! Is that The End? OMG, Scott Hamilton's been sucked through a portal! NZ is SAVED!

I lost a heap of comments!

Summarise.

I was quoting the Northumbrian (psycho)geographer Alastair Bonnet, who believes that many people in Western societies suffer from a nostalgia for the future: from a sense that some tremendous possibility has somehow been lost over the past century and a half. I believe that this tendency is especially strong on the left: we look back at dates like 1871, and 1918, and 1985, and see history hitting an oil slick and skidding, when it should have been accelerating to a paradisal destination. 
What if the Paris Commune spread to London and Berlin? What if Rosa Luxemborg had wound up as chancellor rather than a martyr? What if Scargill had bested Thatcher? And what if the Waikato Kingdom, with its fields of wheat and orchards and fleet of schooners and burgeoning villages where Polynesian and European cultural influences were becoming intertwined and complementary, had not been visited by fire in 1863? I think that Felix Quail dramatises, in his delusions, this sense of living in a world that has somehow gone wrong, in a reality that is obscurely counterfeit...

As David Attenborough said, "It may look like paradise, but living here is not easy". I don't think there's a possibility of paradise. More of what Danny Dorling terms a "possibilist" maybe...? I'm interested in collectivism.

Quail spends his last years holding court amidst his small and shrinking group of followers. He boasts of his ability to travel through portals to other timestreams, describes the wonders of his old friend Kereopa's world, and emphasises how heroic he is to remain in our tawdry, counterfeit timestream. Quail also likes to boast, after a few too many cups of kava, a drink he has ostentiously adopted, that he is planning to bring an army through a portal to correct the course of New Zealand history.

Kava has a lot to answer for.

Utopia seems a permanent temptation for humans, a comfort as well as an irritation. Or is utopia, in its modern sense, simply an outgrowth of Judeo-Christian culture, with its teleology that sends a degenerate world hurtling towards an eschatology that combines dystopian torment, under the reign of the antichrist, and utopian fulfilment, in the kingdom of Christ?

Is it a degenerate world, though?

During a public discussion of Paul Janman's Tongan Ark, Eve Coxon claimed that Futa Helu was devoid of utopianism, and suggested that this was one of the strengths of the man. And scholars like Niel Gunson have argued that in non-Western cultures, like the culture of ancient Tonga, there was no sense of the forward movement of time, no scythe-wielding gardener to disturb Marvell's sensual enjoyment of life, and hence no need for notions of a perfected reality...

Belief systems are tricky. I think that our stories are the fabric of civilisation, and if we tell positive stories, where people come together to work collectively, then it will filter.

But we seem unable to outgrow the notion of a better, or indeed worse, world. Modernity has, I think, a teleological sense of history as one of its core conditions.

It's a kind of arrogance - a narcissism, the desire to control or at least set in motion structures for the future.

When Quail's car is found in Muriwai Stream, which flows through the isolated Limestone Country north of Raglan before entering an exhausted Waikato River close to the Tasman, the police decide that he must have crashed and drowned. But they find no body.

Quails can fly - bumblingly so, but they're wick.

I was going to suggest that the cops found his car, but not his body, and that his followers chose to believe that he had not died, but had instead followed his old friend Kereopa into a better world. Sentimental, I know.

I think you should have left it hanging, definitely.

Give me an alternate ending!

Quail, it turns out, was not Quail at all, but Darwin, come back via a host body to say he messed up, and that his Origins was never meant to make folk pit one against t'other for supremacy of species, but that he didn't start it.

I think Quail would be a Lamarckian rather than a Darwinist.

I think Quail's story demonstrates beautifully an intractable paradox, the Gordian knot that is both collectivism and individualism and everything in-between. Once you accept there's no end to tug at, you see there's no end to hold on to, and you either run around like a scalextric car, or you let go.

You raise a very legitimate concern when you ask 'In terms of having a framework for the film, I like it, but isn't it just another Euro-myth you're bunging into a cultural archive already pummelled with Pakeha jaunts of fantasy?' I suppose one way I could respond is by pointing out that the notion that history somehow took a wrong and perverse turn in the nineteenth century, and that an alternate reality should be summoned up as a counterexample to the status quo, has been a part of Maori nationalist discourse in recent decades. 
Hone Harawira, and earlier Donna Awatere in her influential book Maori Sovereignty, have conjured up a Maori Golden Age that supposedly existed before colonisation. This myth echoes hoary English notions of a Norman Yoke. I think though that the real Golden Age occurred in the 1850s and early '60s, when the Waikato Kingdom arguably showed how European and Polynesian cultures could intertwine and complement one another. Peria, I think, is New Zealand's equivalent of the Paris Commune, bathetic as that may sound. I think that, like the Commune, is was a working model of an alternate and superior society.

I have a problem with the word "superior".

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]

21 Comments:

Blogger Adele said...

I couldn't resist the urge to break into a conversation by Pākehā about Māori, under the guise of a movie script.

At least in the Avatar, they had an awe inspiring set.

While much of the metaphor is foundationally correct there are base errors in the script.

Utopia is not where its at in terms of an Indigenous ideal.

8:51 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Well, I think that the depiction of pre-contact Aotearoa in Maori Sovereignty and in some of Hone's articles for the media is somewhat utopian, Adele, in its sense of a lost golden age which ought to be restored - and to that extent it reminds me of the notion of the Norman Yoke in English radical discourse. I blogged about Hone's vision of the past at:
http://readingthemaps.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/hones-sentimental-history.html

But I'm interested in hearing alternative points of view about this and about related subjects - that's why I presented the post as a sort of dialogue with a critic...


9:41 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

As far as Avatar goes, there's an interesting interpretation doing the rounds in Tonga at the moment:
http://readingthemaps.blogspot.co.nz/2013/12/claiming-pandora.html

It seems like a movie makers' intentions don't count for everything, if Avatar can become Tonganised and Rambo can become an anti-imperialist on Bougainville..

9:44 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

I guess a lot of depends on how we define utopia, and in the dialogue with Rachel my definition is pretty unclear.

I guess I think of utopia as a notion that comes wrapped up in teleological, as opposed to cyclical, notions of time - utopia is supposed to arrive as humanity progresses, as history marches forward, or as the saviour descends, in the form of a supernatural entity or some elite organisation, like Plato's gang of philosopher kings, to save us. I think a lot of that stuff comes out of the West, thanks to the Greeks and the Greek-influenced Christians.

I agree with Niel Gunson and 'Okusi Mahina when they say that Polynesian cultures, and many other non-Western cultures, had a non-teleological sense of time, and so didn't see history as a one-way road, and didn't imagine either a golden age or a dark age waiting in the future. The past will recur, not disappear.

But I think that people like Hone have picked up utopian ideas that are popular amongst radicals in the Western and run with them. And I think the same thing is happening in Tonga, where a belief that the Tu'i Tonga era was some sort of golden age is becoming popular: http://eyecontactsite.com/2014/03/tui-emma-gillies-and-the-lions-of-tonga

10:34 pm  
Anonymous wolfgram said...

China desires to create a wealthy, prosperous empire and seeks land to exploit, to live on, and to increase the empire.
However, this brutal agression towards neighbours and tiny island states does not happen without resistance. When attacking Russian Manchuria, Kamchatka and consequently the Kuril islands and the Aleutian islands, China gets North America entirely against it. Canada, the US, Mexico and Russia launch an immense countre offensive which results in Chinese withdrawal and dozens of thousands of Chinese casualties. Additionally, many educated Chinese people argue that their autocrat rulers have done incredibly stupid things. This, among other, mostly ethnic problems, causes a civil war within China at the same time as the global war.
The emperor, though, still has his expansionist wishes, nonetheless, and he commands the Tonga islands to be attacked. The Tonga islands were a US protectorate state, like many other Polynesian island states after the Chinese invasion into Russia, to make sure that China would not attack the islands. Yet the US government had not foreseen that the Chinese would be as impolitic and unwise to attack US protectorate states. But they did...
The US moblisation of troops to Tonga was too slow to stop devastation. They were namely only very few soldiers on the islands at the moment of the attach, since all soldiers had been sent to the Aleutians and later Russian territory, and since the Americans had thought the Chinese would not touch America's world power territory - as America was a feared nation in the world which had by far most power over land, sea and air. The attack, however, did not turn into an American disaster. With efficient bombings, albeit slightly late, they got rid of the Chinese...
The question still was, after the Tonga islands; "when will they ever stop?!". The Chinese had lost enormous numbers of lives, but kept on annexing, conquering, fighting, losing, winning, being defeated, beating, struggling, suffering.

6:15 am  
Anonymous Vivienne said...

Interesting series of plot lines and comments - as you know, I'm fascinated by other worlds and haunting. Just wanted to add something to your musing on time. Western conceptions of time - like time's arrow, unerringly directed from past to future - come from Christian eschatology, or the study of the end of things, humanity's destiny in an apocalyptic resurrection of the dead. So time moves inexorably forwards, from birth to death, and later to resurrection (but Christianity very focussed on death). Other religions differ in their conception of time - time can be circular, cyclical, fractal, simultaneously dissolving and regenerating (multiverses not so weird in this king of thinking).

7:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grossesteste invented alternative worlds.

8:57 am  
Anonymous Vivienne said...

Sorry, spellcheck seems to have wormholed my post above ... why has it overwritten to 'king' of thinking? Should just be 'way' of thinking!

9:35 am  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

This proposed film is certainly about utopian possibilities, time and the nature of history. The other worlds are 'counterfactuals' of what might have been but wasn’t and just as important - why they have failed to catch our attention - namely the suppressions of a dominant culture.

I think the 'mask' of a fictive character is interesting because it enables the paradox of going deeper into fact - particularly of the psychological kind - the peeling of the onion until the idea of our 'selves' falls apart and we realise that we are a pile of peelings on the floor.

In terms of time itself, we have Kierkegaard’s famous quotation that “Life can only be understood backward; but it must be lived forward.” This is a paradoxical view of time and maybe offers one reason for why we construct histories in the way we do.

I like this thought because it also seems to mirror the Polynesian conception of history. We walk forward down the Great South Road but backwards in time. On the way, we branch out into missed opportunities that we should wisely revisit.

1:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAIR IS HEAVEN'S WATER FLOWING EERIELY OVER US.

SOMETIMES A WOMAN DISAPPEARS DOWN HER LONG HAIR AND IS LOST!

8:17 pm  
Anonymous bruce cathie world grid said...

paul j shld try mapping with this instead of gps which is fake...http://www.worldgrid.net/

cathie's work lives...and rules...

12:14 am  
Anonymous bruce cathie world grid said...

Over the years, Bruce was my mentor and very graciously taught me everything that I now know on the subject of harmonics. He never grew tired of my endless questions and had a knack for explaining difficult concepts in language that I could understand. Although I must admit that some of his concepts took me years to fully understand.

His genius and his legacy was that he drew correlations between past and modern-day events, ancient structures, UFO sightings, then put them all-together and uncovered the World Grid system that has been a part of this planet from the very beginning. Much to the disdain of the academic world, he extended Einstein’s famous equation. However, they were just jealous they hadn’t done the same. He also created a table of Unified Harmonics that has stood the test of time.

Over the years, many tried to silence him. At times, he and his family had to endure many hardships as his published works drew the attention of intelligence agencies around the world. Their scientists and agents were eager to keep this information out of public view as it had been hidden for thousands of years. However, he ignored their threats, continued on with his work and always published his findings. He felt the public had the right to know. He was a true maverick and one day the world will realize the full extent of his genius.

I must remind people that in the 20th century, he was THE first grid researcher. He was the one who painstakingly derived all of the information on his own. Because there were no references out there, there were no books on the subject, there were no classes taught on harmonics in the universities. Every single grid researcher that is around today came after him, because in one way or another, they were inspired by him and his work. Whether directly or indirectly.

I can say that the greatest thing I learned from my best friend was to always be secure in my own knowingness. Because that’s what he always did.

12:15 am  
Anonymous bruce cathie world grid said...

this explains the grid system and harmonics...basic structure of the universe...

http://artojh.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/seconds1c.jpg

12:19 am  
Anonymous bruce cathie world grid said...

the truth about that ufo crash...

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and most northern city. It is situated over several long since extinct volcanoes. On Sept. 25, 1966 at 4 a.m., in Avondale just out of Auckland city, a terrific explosion heard nearly 50 miles away tore apart a foundry building and caused a fire which destroyed the premises. The comment of the foreman was, a wartime Block-buster bomb couldn’t have made a bigger mess.

Because of the mystery centreing around the incident, Bruce Cathie had to obtain permission from the foundry manager to examine the area. Neighbours living within 100 yards had windows blown in and their homes shifted on the piles, as well as a grand stand view of the mysterious shaft of light — something like a long welding torch flame, seen from the factory roof level — down to the ground level where later a 12-inch round hole was found in the concrete floor. This shaft of bright light slowly disappeared from roof level down into the ground where a small dome of light formed. From this point the fire spread to the rest of the factory.

DEPOSITING A GRID MARKER
The conclusion arrived at after all the evidence had been sifted by Captain Cathie was: 1. A UFO had been seen about this time in the area and it was there to put down a new Grid Point (unfortunately, in this case, it had to be under the site of a factory!); 2. The column of light was pure energy similar to a laser beam, and this penetrated the building and floor and in doing so destroyed the building; 3. Once the energy had penetrated to the correct depth it was converted into a material state to form the Aerial Grid Point.

It must be here remembered that it was Einstein who said energy and matter are one and the same thing and to UFO personnel this change would be readily understood and controllable. It was indeed fortunate that the author of “Harmonic 33″ was on the spot to investigate this first hand evidence to substantiate theories he had been building up in previous months. There have been other mysterious explosions up and down New Zealand but none in such a closely populated area where the details could be so closely observed. While the author of the book is not a mathematician he challenges anyone else, preferably with the use of a computer, to “prove his theories correct”.

12:21 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

Hi Viv,

thanks for that comment. I read a good account of the relation between eschatology and Western ways of viewing history in Cedric Robinson's book An Anthropology of History. Robinson's a black scholar who is taking Marxism apart and putting it back together from what he sees as a non-Eurocentric perspective...

9:10 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

Niel Gunson is a scholar of Pacific and Tongan history who has developed the notion that Tongans have traditionally seen history as cyclical - he talks of 'shamanic time'. Not everyone is impressed by this sort of formulation!
http://www.jps.auckland.ac.nz/docs/Volume117/Volume%20117%20No%204/3%20Shamanism%20in%20Tonga.pdf

9:12 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

And 'fractal time' sounds fascinating! I think I'll google that...

9:13 am  
Anonymous Alastair said...

It would certainly have led to a very different chain of events had the Maori forces won at Rangiriri, but even with the help of other Pacific nations, do you think it was ever possible for the European colonisers to have been kept out of Aotearoa and the Pacfic?

The Battle of Rangiriri involved a force of 1420 British troops against about 500 Maori, and casualties of both sides put together are less than 100 killed, and a bit over 100 wounded.

It had massive local significance, obviously, but it is also indicative of how sparsely populated these lands were and how small the battles were compared to battles in other places. Gettysburg was the same year, and involved over 150,000 men, with nearly 50,000 casualties.

Had the Maori won, wouldn't the British have just sent a larger force? If they hadn't, wouldn't others have? Surely the European empires would have had the ships, men and cannons for such a venture?

I hope I don't sound too historically determinist here, and I'm certainly not arguing colonisation was inevitable either in its occurrence in the first place or in the form it took. I'm just genuinely intrigued at the idea that such a thing could have been possible, even if only in a fantastic alternate universe where the red flag flies over Europe.

Perhaps the victory inspired wider sections of Maoridom to rally to the Kingitanga banner? Perhaps the British simply decided that the cost of waging war so far away for so small a land was prohibitive, and settled for control of Australia? I'm also not well read on the relative strength of Tonga and Hawaii... how much could they have brought to the table?

Genuinely fascinated by all this.

If you ever wanted to develop a 'Fire On The Mountain' style alternate history book set in the Pacific, I'd buy it... ;-)

7:30 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Hi Alastair,

that's a very fair and a very interesting question - it probably calls for a blog post of its own!

10:21 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

My short answer, though, would be that the Brits were not all that keen on waging a war on behalf of settlers in New Zealand - they grudgingly gave troops for the Waikato campaign, and out those troops under the command of Duncan Cameron, a man who was openly doubtful about the justice of the colonists' cause. In Waikato and also in Taranaki the colonists were sometimes racing against time, trying to make best use of the imperial forces before they were withdrawn. The war against Te Kooti was mostly fought using kupapa rather than imperial forces, because the Brits had had enough.

Given all this, I think that a severe setback, like a rout at Rangiriri, may well have precipitated British withdrawal from New Zealand rather than the consolidation of the imperial military presence.

And serious revolutionary turmoil in Europe, like the turmoil that the Paris Commune threatened to spread across the continent, would almost certainly have brought troops home from many different parts of the empire.

I think that in Kereopa Latu's timestream defeat at Rangiriri, aid for Aotearoa from Tonga and Hawai'i, and the eruption of revolution in Europe have combined to scuttle the coloniers' project.

10:27 pm  
Anonymous brett said...

dear scott, can i get your email address again please?
brett@brettgraham.co.nz

im in new york reading this, its brilliant!
brett

12:11 pm  

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