Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Mike Butler: Parihaka, the Green Party, and rape


For a few years there has been a call to replace Guy Fawke’s Day with a Parihaka Day to commemorate November 5, 1881, when government troops evicted 1600 people from a village built on confiscated land between Mount Taranaki and the Tasman Sea.

This year the Green Party announced that Marama Davidson will re-enter the Maori Party’s Te ra o Parihaka Bill into Parliament’s Member’s Bill Ballot to establish a further grievance day following Land Wars Day (aka Tribal Rebellions Day) on October 28, and of course Waitangi Day on February 6. (1)

Davidson, who is the Green Party’s Maori Development spokesperson, went on to say that “earlier this year, in a truly historic reconciliation ceremony, the Crown apologised to the people of Parihaka for the first time, including for the rape of women and children.

Note, she alleged the rape of women and children.

The apology, by former Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson in June of this year, detailed the Crown's failings which included the imprisonment without trial of residents, the depravation of the prisoners' basic human rights, the invasion and forced eviction of residents, the sacking of the pa, for the rapes committed by Crown troops and the arrests of Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi.(2)

Curious about the allegations of rape, I sent to Mr Finlayson a request under the Official Information Act asking:
1.The date or dates on which these alleged offences occurred.
2.The specific location where these alleged offences occurred. Ie Where at Parihaka?
3.The number of such offences.
4.The names or description of the alleged offenders.
5.The names or number of alleged victims.
6.The ages of the alleged victims.
7.The date when the alleged offences were first reported.
The reply from Nashwa Boys of the Office of Treaty Settlements provided as evidence testimony to the 1927 Sim Commission, a newspaper report from 1882, an unreferenced assertion in Ask That Mountain by radical writer Dick Scott, oral testimony to the Waitangi Tribunal by a single claimant, and a poi song/dance that purportedly tells the story.

Testimony to the 1927 Sim Commission from two witnesses who were at Parihaka in 1881, one named Rangi Matatoro Watene, who was aged around 24 at the time, and the other named Noho Mairangi Te Whiti, the son of Te Whiti O Rongomai) who was aged 14 at the time.

Watene said that “the women folk were gathering food for the people in the pa, for us, and the soldiers were assaulting the women folk. Some of those women got children through the soldiers”.

The younger Te Whiti said that soldiers “took the women and made use of them, cohabitating with them, the outcome of which is that their offspring are living now”.

A lengthy opinion piece in the Otago Daily Times on March 18, 1882, had a brief mention of “soldiers plying Parihaka women with rum”.(3)

The unreferenced assertion in Ask That Mountain says that “women were frequently the victims of drunken and diseased troopers”. In his autobiography, Scott quoted a doctor who alleged looting, debauchery, and congenital syphilis resulting from the occupation of Parihaka.

Other evidence came from Taranaki claimant Peter Moeahu who said he had been told by elders of women and girls who suffered at the hands of the Crown’s forces.

According to the reply from the Office of Treaty Settlements, “Crown officials also considered the words of a traditional poi that recounts, in the first person, the experience of women from Parihaka being raped”. (4)

That’s all the evidence that the Office of Treaty Settlements provided. I’m sure if there was more they would have happily provided it.

That office was unable to provide dates on which these alleged rapes occurred, a specific location or locations, or the number of such offences. Alleged perpetrators were simply described as “the soldiers”, there was no number of alleged victims, no ages, and it appears the first report of the allegations was in 1927, 46 years later, to a grievance commission.

In other words, if such evidence was taken to a rape trial, there would be insufficient evidence to support conviction. But in his abject apology about Crown actions at Parihaka in 1881, the Minister, Christopher Finlayson, conceded rape anyway. Any descendants of troops who served there had their memories blackened.

News reports of Finlayson’s apology in June 2017 focussed on the rape allegations, giving the impression that rape was the main activity at the Parihaka crackdown.

The story has obviously grown somewhat in the retelling over the years. The two eyewitnesses alleged that women were assaulted. News reports earlier this year turned the mass eviction into a mass rape. Green MP Marama Davidson has upped the ante by claiming the rape of women and children.

There appears to be no end of calls to acknowledge all wickedness by coloniser forebears. But ANY Minister whose role it is to atone for the past should tell the truth. And MPs who like to climb up on this bandwagon, like Marama Davidson, should not make stuff up.

Adding a Parihaka Day to our two other grievance days every year should be the last thing wanted by our new inclusive government that wants foster harmonious race relations.

Sources
1. Marama Davidson to adopt Te ra o Parihaka Bill, https://www.greens.org.nz/news/press-release/marama-davidson-adopt-te-r%C4%81-o-parihaka-bill.
2. Crown apologises to Parihaka for past horrors, Stuff, June 9, 2017. https://i.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/93492596/crown-to-apologise-to-parihaka-today-for-past-injustices
3. The Times of Te Whiti, Otago Daily Times, March 18, 1882. https://Paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ODT18820318.2.24
4.Taranaki Iwi Historical Account, www.govt.nz/dmsdocument/6172.pdf.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

People crapping on about white settler 'brutalities" invariably claim to have heard these accounts “from whakapapa."

This nonsense masquerading as actual history that can be relied upon has attained widespread currency via the Waitangi Tribunal. In Tribunal hearings, oral evidence is accorded the same weight as written evidence, and is not subject to cross-examination, because under Maori protocol this would be disrespectful to a kaumatua.

The Waitangi Tribunal justifies operating in this manner by stating that since it is not a Court, the same rigorous evidential procedures need not apply. But then it represents its reports as ‘gold’ that can be taken to the bank.

What a crock!

Let us dispense, once and for all, with the nonsensical idea that oral history -- as interpreted by people with agendas -- is the equivalent of written history as set out in the primary source accounts of eyewitnesses or those who recorded the observations of eyewitnesses.

One Taranaki kaumatua, in a threadbare attempt to paint a picture of a peaceful, advanced people rudely trampled down by a thuggish white settler government, claimed the illegal Parihaka commune closed down in 1881 generated and reticulated its own electricity.

Quite a feat, since the first NZ town to get the power on, Foxton, didn't achieve this until 1888. The Parihaka electricity [sic] clearly wasn't hydro-electric since the closest dam to the illegal settlement, the Patea earth dam, some 67km away, wasn't constructed until the 1980s.

Presumably it was wind-generated -- by the flatulence of kaumatua.

The same kaumatua claimed the illegal Parihaka settlement was extensively shelled from a British man-o-war moored off the Taranaki coast for this purpose before colonial troops moved in to close it down.

Quite a feat to repeatedly hit a target more than 10km away with no line of sight and using smooth bore cannon, a short-range ship-to-ship ordnance. If this indeed occurred, we can only wonder why there are no contemporary accounts of widespread property damage and extensive casualties amongst the inhabitants of the illegal settlement?

Primary source accounts record that almost 1800 colonial troops moved in to evict 463 illegal squatters – in overwhelming force precisely to avoid bloodshed -- and that the only casualty was a boy [later to became the famous Sir Maui Pomare] who lost a toe after his foot was accidentally stepped on by a trooper's horse.

I know which account I'm believing.

Then there are repeated claims the Parihaka women were mass-raped by the soldiers. The contingent was headed by Native Minister, John Bryce, charged with reporting back to Parliament as to what transpired. The soldiers would have been well-aware that their conduct was under the scrutiny of the Minister. Several reporters were also present. There not a single primary source account alleging brutality of any kind on the part of the soldiers, let alone mass rape.

This allegation is a disgusting slur on the reputations of men who are no longer around to defend themselves, and there is no proof at all of it. In another 100 years we will no doubt be finding out the soldiers held Te Whiti down while John Bryce defecated in his mouth. And there will be yet another “full and final” settlement and Crown “apology” on the basis of that fable, too.

Given contemporary reports of the widespread, filth, disease, and squalor the troops found when they entered Parihaka, I suggest they would have been more interested in getting back to barracks and taking a long bath than in jumping on smelly, lice-ridden, probably poxed, nasty ass wahines behind an overflowing whare paku.

Let's be serious here.

Ray S said...

Good article Mike,to quote,
"Adding a Parihaka Day to our two other grievance days every year should be the last thing wanted by our new inclusive government that wants foster harmonious race relations".
Sadly our new government I fear will sell its soul in appeasement, just as it did to get in power. And further, all manner of issues relating to maori will keep the new government busier than they ever thought possible.

Barry said...

I agree with both Anonymous and Ray S!

llloyd said...

It is a principle of the Crown and all other corporations never to admit to fault until an accusation is judged in a Court of Law. It was a catastrophe when the Crown abandoned that principle in the 1980s. Now accusations which need never be tested receive the lucre at the Waitangi Tribunal. It was made worse that tribal culture does not value truth seeking and objectivity. Their nature becomes increasingly bizarre and arrogant. It was up to the Crown officials and the more discerning public to be aware and block this development. But in the 1980s, Maori iwi could do no wrong in the eyes of the media and the Lange Government. The noble savage thing I think. This is actually a world wide Western problem now. Dissenters to tribal activism are told they have hate speech and are under both mob and legal attack.

Elezabeth Peters said...

A Parihaka Day - oh dear, yet another Maori fairy tale day. And the general consensus is correct, it is very likely to sail through parliament because this present government is even more determined to placate Maori at any cost than our last mindless one. The general public will approve - not because it believes the crap, but because another public holiday to go fishing would be nice. Isn't it time that the government in this country stopped dealing with fairy tales that "must be believed in case we insult the komatua" and start dealing in facts only? We all know this is happening and that it is fiction from the start, but go along with the story anyway. A parliament is meant to be run like a business, not like a kindergarten playing Chinese whispers. Why are our MPs and their minions happy to insult our soldiers of the time in such a way and expect no repercussions? Is it because descendants of the said soldiers (and these include many now claiming to be Maori) have no present-day financial reward offered as incentive to pursue the true accounts? Must everything in this money-grubbing country be based on "how much can we claim" and "can we start another reward industry?" It is time to grow up as a country, put the false and ever-growing fairy tale fungus behind us, and make New Zealand into a future-oriented country again, not one that swims around in its ever expanding pond of pollution looking for ways to get more handouts.

Geoffrey said...

Thank you Elizabeth

Barry said...

Hear hear llloyd and Elezabeth! Beautifully written!

Robert Mann said...

Parihaka is discussed in pp 48-53 of 'Travesty After Travesty' by the late lawyer Stuart C. Scott (Christchurch: Certes Press, 1996). Scott, a brave anti-racist, makes scathing criticisms of the then-recent $102.95 'Taranaki' report of the Waitangi Tribunal.
Hon W Peters is overdue for the next of his sporadic utterances denouncing guilty woolly-minded white liberals.

Anthony Farrell said...

In the spirit of maintaining accuracy: In 1888 Reefton on the West Coast was the first town in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere to receive electricity, the work of Walter Prince,and its streets were lit by commercial electricity generated by the Reefton Power Station.

From the archives of the Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand:

The scheme involved an intake some 2 kilometres up the Inangahua River above Reefton (opposite the township of Blacks Point) feeding water into a headrace flume 6 feet (ft) wide and 5 ft deep on the left bank of the river. A couple of sections of the headrace needed tunnels where slips had occurred. The station had a head of 8.3 metres and a 70 horse-power (hp) Rafel turbine belt drove a 20 kilowatts (kW) 30/110 volt DC Crompton bipolar dynamo. It was intended to supply sufficient for 500 lamps in the town.

Richard Harris said...

This sounds like a lot of 'fake news' to me? I think this constant digging up of so called atrocities is a no more than a malicious and mischievous campaign to antagonise further the relationship between Maori and non Maori! It is also a blatant first step to a crack at compensation so motives are very questionable! History is full of atrocities from all nations and peoples. Some factual but many wildly exaggerated. Yes, we must remember these and learn from them, but most of all to move on! More recently in the UK a campaign led by unsavory lawyers to charge British troops with atrocities in Iraq was proved false after millions was spent in litigation! Let us not fall into the same trap.

Richard Harris

Anonymous said...

If my great grandfather was screwed over in a business deal more than a 100 years ago, will it stand up in court if I now sue the grand children of the crook for compensation ? The financial implications of the treaty settlements are carried by todays taxpayers and not by those who lived 100 years ago. Apart from that, a large percentage of our population, honest hard working citizens were not born here and neither were their parents and grand parents who have moved here in more recent times and they are punished for something that they had no part of. In fact no living New Zealander today had anything to do with injustices that took place a century ago. Maybe the victims should turn to the British Government for handouts.

Brian said...

Reading Mike's blog and the comments re-enforces that the principle of truth, still remains with at least, some people in this country.

The problem is, that no matter what argument the Maoris put up, the truth to them is merely academic; for being an indigenous community they know full well that a Leftish United Nations is firmly behind them.

A part verse from Shakespeare truly represents the attitude of all our political representatives when dealing with the problems of historical claims, and the rights of the indigenous!

....“Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And the “native” hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action”..... Hamlet.

Brian

Paul said...

To be fair, very little contained in any oral history would stand up in court, whether true or not. A family tradition over something my grandfather may have said to my Grandmother would not pass that test, while being entirely true.

The consequences of an official apology this long after the events alleged would seem minor on balance - any genuine grievance (whether provable of not) is somewhat addressed, while any punishment of the innocent is slight indeed, given they are all dead, and no descendant receives anything other than a slightly colourful potential addition to family history, given that no perpetrators are named.

Robert Arthur said...

I note the Land Wars Day is artfully limited to post 1845. This avoids the difficulty of confusing brain washed minds by revealing how Te Rauparaha nearly annihilated all fellow maori in the South Island, and how Ngapuhi expended extraordinary effort to achieve near the same of their own kith and kin in the North Island.

Geoffrey said...

War - the force of arms used by one State or people to impose it's will on another State or people. It's primary purpose is for an aggressor State or people to deprive an "owner" State or people of some desired resource or capability without recompense. Where armed conflict arises between major groupings within an established nation, this is identified as a civil war. History is littered with examples of wars of conquest and civil wars.

Where no coherent concept of nationhood exists, the tribal group is most frequently identifiable as the contesting entity between warring factions. Such conflict cannot usefully be described as civil war.

From the earliest of migrations to these islands, individuals were bound by extended family and tribal affiliations. Without such affiliation, no individual could withstand the predation of his neighbour. War between tribes was a frequent (almost seasonal) event. Albeit at a fairly basic level, all such tribal conflict in NZ satisfies the definition of 'war'. The 'Maori Wars' can thus be considered to be endemic from shortly after the second wave of migration. The more recent of such inter-tribal wars were characterised by the advent of the musket. These, often labeled 'The Musket Wars', were by far the most destructive and resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, enslavements and the wholesale transfer of land and resources. The enormity of their impact upon the relatively powerless (musket-less) tribes was the main factor leading to the Treaty of Waitangi. By means of the Treaty, Maori were granted full British citizenship and therefore protection under the rule of law. Simply put; murder became a capitol offence and tribal war ceased.

The events arising from revolt occurring after the impact of the Treaty are often mis-named as "The Land Wars". Episodes of armed action by Government forces against tribal groups deemed to be acting in revolt were in fact Police Actions. Such actions were, after repeated warning and clear promulgation of the consequences, prosecuted against tribal entities seeking to circumvent the law. As penalties such as monetary fines, imprisonment and parole etc had no real meaning within the context of the time, land confiscation was used as the primary sanction. However, for reasons of political expediency, almost all of the land that was confiscated from those in revolt has now been returned. Such repatriations have attracted significant financial "Compensation"; sometimes repeatedly.

It is well past time that Governments ceased this short-sighted rort.