Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Letters to Dargy

[I have just sent this message to the Dargaville museum at]

Kia ora,

I e mailed you several days ago to express my concerns about your museum's presentation of New Zealand prehistory.

I objected, in particular, to your claims that a pou found on the Pouto peninsula in the early '90s was created by a pre-Maori 'Waitaha' civilisation. As my first e mail explained, the unanimous opinion of scholars of New Zealand's past is that the Waitaha was a South Island Maori tribe which was assimilated centuries ago into first the Ngati Mamoe and then the Kai Tahu peoples. The claim that the Waitaha established a massive, technologically advanced civilisation on New Zealand thousands of years before the coming of the ancestors of the Maori is put forward only by a New Age cult led by Barry Brailsford, a once-respected archaeologist whose turn towards mysticism and pseudo-history has been widely condemned by New Zealand's scholarly community.

I know that a number of people have e mailed Dargaville with complaints similar to mine in recent days. I hope that you consider these letters carefully. As well as the Kai Tahu descendant outraged at the misrepresentation of his ancestors, you have heard from the archaeologist annoyed at the denigration of his profession, a novelist upset by your inability to tell fact from fiction, and a number of other eloquent, distinctive voices.

I am still waiting for a reply from your institution. I recognise, of course, that the issues I and others have raised are serious, and may require serious consideration by the people responsible for the policies and practices of Dargaville museum. Nevertheless, I would have expected to have received some acknowledgement of my complaint by now. It is normal practice for institutions that serve the public to acknowledge a complaint soon after they receive it, and to say whether or not the complaint will be considered. As far as I know, no one else who has complained to you in recent days has received a reply, either.

While they wait for you to acknowledge their communciations, some of the critics of Dargaville museum have initiated a public discussion of your promotion of the Waitaha myth and your mistreatment of the Pouto pou. I published my first e mail to the museum on the Reading the Maps blog, and a number of readers of the site have posted the texts of their own e mails to the museum in the comments box underneath my blog post. The New Zealand Archaeological Association has placed a link to the published e mails on its website, so that its members can find out about the controversy. In the last couple of days, over five hundred people have viewed the post about Dargaville museum at Reading the Maps. Dargaville museum is mistaken if it thinks that it can avoid negative publicity by ignoring critical e mails.

I would like to add two supplementary points to the complaint I sent you at the beginning of the week. Over the past twenty-four hours I have received some information about the background of Patrick Ruka, the 'Waitaha kaumatua' who took part, according to the caption in your museum, in a ceremony to welcome the Pouto pou into your permanent collection in 1996.

As I suspected, Patrick, who also goes by the names Mac and Maki, is part of the New Age 'Nation of Waitaha' cult established by Barry Brailsford at the beginning of the nineties. Visiting the Nation of Waitaha's facebook page, I notice that the group claims to have lived in Egypt more than four thousand years ago, and to have reached New Zealand after travelling through the Middle East, Siberia, the Aleutian Islands, the Americas, and the Eastern Pacific.

In a 1997 interview, Ruka claimed to have supernatural powers, and suggested that he could trace his whakapapa back half a million years. I was especially surprised by the second claim, because I had been under the impression that the modern human species had been in existence for no longer than two hundred thousand years. Elsewhere in Ruka's interview, though, I learnt that the Waitaha originally voyaged to earth from a distant planet. In the caption accompanying the Pouto pou, your museum boasts that it is the only place in New Zealand where a Waitaha artefact is publically displayed. Perhaps you are also the only institution in the country to display the artefact of an extraterrestrial culture? I also wanted to make a comment about Noel Hilliam, the man who is, according to the staff member I spoke to on Sunday, responsible for the presentation and interpretation of the Pouto pou. Since I e mailed you at the beginning of the week I have learned that Hilliam - a man who has no training in archaeology, history, or any related discipline - is closely associated with, if not a member of, the One New Zealand Foundation, a right-wing, anti-Maori political party based in Northland, and the Celtic New Zealand circle, a group of conspiracy theorists and pseudo-historians run by a man named Martin Doutre.

Along with the philosopher Matthew Dentith, the archaeologist Edward Ashby, and the distinguised Kai Tahu writer Keri Hulme, I took part last year in a protracted debate with Martin Doutre at the online journal the Scoop Review of Books. In the course of this confrontation, which is preserved in the archive of the Scoop Review of Books, Doutre admitted to being a Holocaust denier, expressed admiration for the neo-Nazi historian David Irving, and claimed that the 9/11 attacks on the United States were an 'inside job', not the work of Osama bin Laden.

The Celtic New Zealand website which Doutre maintains is full of praise for Noel Hilliam. I thought that this passage, which is accompanied on the site by a photo of a pile of bones and skulls, was especially interesting:

[This photo shows] a new cache of bones found in the Kaipara District. The skeletons are being studied by Noel Hilliam, former Curator of the Dargaville Maritime Museum, and his team of researchers...[this is] one of many photos taken by Noel Hilliam of the very small stature people that he and a group of experts are secretly studying. Noel's attempts to undertake proper scientific investigation in behalf of the New Zealand public are being thwarted and blockaded by the PC establishment.

If what Doutre is saying in the quoted passage is correct, then his friend Noel Hilliam has been removing human remains from sites in the Kaipara region without the permission of the state or of the iwi which have mana whenua over the region. The New Zealand Historic Places Act of 1993 prohibits the unauthorised disturbance of grave sites, and provides for the punishment of grave looting by large fines or terms of imprisonment. Noel Hilliam may come to regret allowing the Celtic New Zealand website to boast about his 'secret' expeditions to Kaipara burial caves.

Noel Hilliam's lack of academic training, associations with outfits like the One New Zealand Foundation and the Celtic New Zealand circle, and apparent desecration of Maori burial sites make him totally unsuited to work with taonga like the Pouto pou.

I believe that the information I have provided about the bizarre claims of the Ruka whanau and the 'Nation of Waitaha' and the unsavoury associations and activities of Noel Hilliam reinforces the case that I and others have made against your promotion of the Waitaha myth and your mistreatment of the Pouto pou. I hope that you will acknowledge the complaints you have received from me and from other concerned parties in the very near future.

Scott Hamilton


Anonymous Anonymous said...

they keep quiet but the letters keep coming!

4:52 pm  
Blogger stephen said...

Yet again maps, may I thank you for fighting the good fight.

6:04 pm  
Blogger Edward said...

Bloody brilliant Maps! You always manage to articulate so well what I wish I could convey.
You've painted an excellent picture of the madness of the Pouto pou exhibit. I especially think it was great how you pointed out Hilliam's dodgey antics. As far as I am concerned the man is destroying archaeological and sacred sites and should have criminal charges laid against him.

Again, great work!

6:40 pm  
Anonymous Keri Hulme said...

Kia ora tatou - had been awaiting an op for cataracts (which has been sidelined for a fortnight) so have not been following matters as well as I should.
*When* I get back Io the Coast, I will-
*post Tipene's rebuttal to the various Ruka people (including a thorough demolition of Peter Ruka's claim to be Kai Tahu;)
*Give links to an excellent article by a student (who is part Kai Tahu) apropos Barry Brailsford's 'methods' of recording what the 'elders' told him.
* Give partial links to Barney Manawatu's background: I met & liked Barney -and none of the pseudo-Waitaha actually know his real name, nor his -very distinguished- tribal provenance. I met him in company with his grand-niece, the late Doctor Ramsden. An earlier poster in the other thread was completely misleading and was basically quoting Brailsford tripe.)
*Compose & post a response to Map's original post re the Dargaville Museum. to here, & the Dargaville museum - and TRONT.

As an enrolled Kai Tahu, I am offended & affronted by the stupidity of Ruka, Hilliam, Cook, Brailsford. et al. Time they were exposed as the shysters they are-

It is so good to see the informed yet outraged response to what some people at the Dargaville 'museum' (it's lost its accreditation as such) are promulgating.

Kia kaha!

8:21 pm  
Blogger Kauders said...

this stuff is unbelievable. Congratulations on fighting the good fight.

4:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rex Gilroy says he found a Viking rock carving in NZ last year -

He also found moas

12:24 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Rex Gilroy site is rather sad, but I don't think it'll be fooling many people. Good for a laugh though.

That "Viking carving" is a rather clean looking painting on a rock and the "Moa prints" look like he's just scratched them in the dirt by the side of the road!

(A different Anon)

8:16 am  
Anonymous buy Cialis said...

you leave me totally impressed, your knowledge about fact like this are soo good, well if someday I try to open a museum I will call you.

11:23 am  
Anonymous said...

New Zealand prehistory????????? wow !! it sounds really interesting, Is it about some animals??

6:32 am  
Blogger kwivi sinom said...

simply a mind boggling example of the misappropriation of native knowledge used by a non native for financial profit.
we had several brailsford followers in our store on the hopi indian reservation in arizona talking about the wiataha/hopi connection which left us befuddled because hopi are seemingly unaware of this connection. however we are not surprised at this happening in new zealand because the same thing has been happening here. it seems that the hopi are the american new age movement's indian tribe of choice when it comes to misappropriation, misinterpretation, and profit.
there seem to be a lot of gullible lost white people out there searching for meaning in other people's cultures and who are willing to pay big dollars for this kind of new age fantasy and fraud. these culture vultures don't seem to understand that culture is not something that you can take off and put on like a coat.
keep up the good work!
joseph and janice day
shungopavi village
second mesa, arizona, usa

7:07 am  
Blogger Polli said...

Your statement the Kati Mamoe were absorbed by Ngai Tahu is quite incorrect. I can assure you that Kati Mamoe exist today as a seperate iwi in their own right - despite what the Ngai Tahu corporate giant might have to say! I am a direct descendant of the union of Tuhaitara and Marukore. Marukore was a Kati Mamoe chief while Tuhaitara was a half Ngai Tahu/half Kati Mamoe chieftainess. In other our family the Ngai Tahu woman married the Kati Mamoe man which makes all descended from that union - Kati Mamoe by blood-right.

8:46 am  
Blogger Polli said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:46 am  
Blogger Polli said...

You also seem offended by the fact (and yes I say FACT) that Waitaha (the descendants of Waitaha nui of the Waka Uruao - not the descendants of Waitaha of the Te Arawa) landed long before the seven tribes? Well get over it. According to our whakapapa - there IS a pre-history and any Ngai Tahu historian of any worth knows it. It's stated as a part of the histories of a number of marae throughout Ngai Tahu. As the historian of my family I can verify our whakapapa tells that the generations born in NZ date to about 800ad, that the Kati Mamoe are direct descendants of the Waitaha and Te Rapuwai, and that the Waitaha and Te Rapuwai waka landed together in the Hawkes Bay area.

I don't know Mr Ruka or Mr Brailsford but I have read their writings. I can't say that what I know corresponds to every thing they say but that is irrelevant in my view. I know what my whakapapa tells me and who is anyone to deny it.

9:11 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

Oral history is a tricky business, Polli. If your family lore holds that the Great Fleet Myth was fact, then it's demonstrably wrong, as the likes of David Simmons showed four decades ago. There are scores of different iwi traditions describing all sorts of different purported journeys to these islands; the Great Fleet Myth with its nonsense about seven canoes is a vulgarisation of them by Percy Smith and Elsdon Best. And if you can deranged stuff like Ruka and Brailsford's talk of flying saucers and ancient Egyptian journeys to NZ then the oral history you're relying on needs to be complemented by consultation with the work of some trained scholars of the past.

10:58 am  
Anonymous Raymond Millard said...

Peace dear Ones!

Over the past few years I have come to know Barry Brailsford. I find him to be humble & respectful, . I have also heard first hand the offence that a Kai Tahu historian voiced at The Song Of Waitaha being commissioned by their beloved leader Pani Manawatu. Barry begins The Song of Waitaha with a signed letter of dedication in the book to endorse his commission from the leaders of Waitaha to write these Histories. When I asked Barry last Christmas above this issue he simply said: Well I've also got a blessing from Dame Whina Cooper at the end of the book! I'm sure, if Barry were asked, he could produce both documents to verify his position.

Back in the late 80's I went on an hikoi to find the Peaceful People that Old George Ellison had mentioned briefly in the series of Wananga he called to past on his knowledge near the end of his life in the late 70's.
The only lead I had on my journey was a vision of a white Kotoku feather in a blue sky surrounded by dark grey clouds. I was fortunate enough to meet Tohuna Aunty Rangimarie (Rose) Pere and when I shared the picture she sent me down to Tuatapere. When I asked her about The Peaceful People (Waitaha) she laughed and simply exclaimed: When Takitimu Waka arrived there were 30 nations living here.

In Tuatapere I met a 93 year Waitaha elder Uncle Syd Cormack who was the east & south coast Whakapapa Tohaka who had personal records from his grandparents which also included the evolving name maps of some 19 waka which had first landed at various times in Te Waka o Maui. He told me about The Song of Waitaha which is the Koros' stories and also that there was a Kuias' book called Whispers Of Waitaha.

Uncle Syd sent me to videotape Waitaha elder Uncle Tim Te Maiharoa as he built a Waka Pahi which is an ocean going reed waka which he had spotted at the 1990 celebrations. It was built by Moriori to represent Te Takata o Rekohu. At the Hakari after the launching there was much laughter, waiata & korero, one of which was about the welcome given on the Chatham's when Thor Heyerdahl landed there. It was all very respectful as you would expect. When I asked them what they really thought about his kaupapa they laughed and said: Cultural Imperialism. It was really just a publicity stunt to generate the dosh to build his museum!

This same reality was once shared with me by George as we watched Anthrology students from the university come onto the Paepae: I pointed out one of the men who I went to Boy Scouts with. He's the professor and the reason for this hui! he said. He's one of our Moko's and we love him dearly. He's come here to tell us who we are. We've tried to tell him that he's got it all wrong but, unfortunately, he doesn't have ears to hear! Another elder up in Ruatoki said it this way: If the university gets them before we do they're useless to us! If we get them first they're fine!

One of the things that I learned about Hui under George was that it is a very respectful process in which every viewpoint is valid & that the korero doesn't stop until consensus is reached. Obviously this takes much time, forbearance, understanding and patience and many waiata etc but the outcomes, when they finally arrive, are transcendently brilliant and when implemented with the full backing of all they speed to the Take. This is the unity which commands a blessing!
The Colonial tactics of divide and rule have no place in Hui but my people Waitaha have witnessed and experienced many different forms of colonialism over the millenium but the publishing of Song.. & Whispers.. were marked as "the time is deemed right" for their telling. The extended story goes that Waitaha are in fact a confederation of 250 Peaceful Nations worldwide.
I whakapapa to both Waitaha & Kai Tahu but Uncle Syd told me that Waitaha is in the heart, not the blood. Incidently Moriori were also on Te Uruao waka when it first landed in Aotearoa.

Arohamai - Ray

1:20 pm  

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