Just don’t think about the offspring

Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows, and so it is that Chris Trotter finds common cause with Peter Cresswell in selectively revising the story of Ngāi TÅ«hoe to frame them up as our very own Khmer Rouge, and the Tino Rangatiratanga movement as the mortal enemy of civil society as we know it. I do not seek to defend Te Kooti and his followers: it’s not necessary to do so to abhor the brutality of the Crown response. But even that isn’t the point of this post: I’ve covered that ground before. The point is that their reading is anitithetical to the ongoing development of a peaceful and modern Aotearoa.

Both frame up the Crown position as a matter of swordright — TÅ«hoe ‘picked the wrong side’ in their war and were justly punished for it. Should have been punished more. Both Chris and Peter seem to be of the view that the Crown would have been entirely justified in leaving not one stone upon another, not one man, woman or child alive. And more than a century later, based on their own (conveniently one-eyed) assessment of incidents surrounding Te Kooti’s succour in Te Urewera, they argue that TÅ«hoe still deserve whatever they get: nothing if they’re bloody lucky. Frankly, I expect this sort of thing from permanent-state-of-jihad Objectivists; not so much from an actual historian claiming the mantle of a peace-loving social democrat.

Because the end justifies the means, you see. The brutal and systematic dispossession and wholesale slaughter of Māori throughout Aotearoa was perhaps unfortunate, but necessary in ‘civilising’ the uncivilised hordes of savages found here by the noble white man of 1840. I asked Chris a while ago whether he thought that NZ would have been better off if Europeans had just landed with boatloads of armed soldiers and done to the natives what they did in the rest of the world. He responded by saying I was “not mentally wired for this sort of historical argument.” But I guess I have a fuller answer now.

These are people who claim to want to ‘move on’ from our colonial history, for Aotearoa to become ‘one nation’. But doing so on the basis of swordright cannot result in a nation of two people joining together as ‘iwi tahi tatou’, but of one people who set the rules and another who live by them; the former wielding the righteous sword of civilisation, the latter’s efforts to work with the former rather than under them cut down by it, and even their efforts to work within the rules viewed with eternal suspicion and distrust. This is beyond misery — it is ignorant, paranoiac hatred and fear of ghosts long passed which has brought these two bedfellows together. Just don’t think about the offspring they might bear.

Update: Fresh approval from PC.


9 thoughts on “Just don’t think about the offspring

  1. Lew – Way off base with this one. Chris merely suggests that historians have deliberately minimised Tuhoe responsibility for part of the conflict. You then raise a straw army to deflect him.

    Address and rebut the specifics of what he and PC say rather than stretch your imagination.

  2. Frankly, I expect this sort of thing from permanent-state-of-jihad Objectivists; not so much from an actual historian claiming the mantle of a peace-loving social democrat.

    It’s easier to understand once you realise that Trotter isn’t a social democrat or a historian – at least in any commonly accepted meanings of those terms – but rather a confused and angry old racist who has somehow duped people into regarding him as a left-wing commentator and historian.

  3. I observe, Lew, that your mental wiring hasn’t changed one bit since its last foray into this subject-matter, so I’ll limit my response to a greatful acknowledgement of Phil Sage’s opening comment – which I heartily endorse.

    Danyl McLaughlan’s all-too-typical resort to ad hominem abuse, on the other hand, merits no more than a weary yawn.

  4. Phil and Chris, I have no dispute with the facts presented, and agree that there’s been some ‘brownwashing’ of this history (though not exclusively: Binney being the foremost example of how to do this sort of history well without being obsequious to one side or other).

    But the facts are not what I take issue with in the post: it’s the analysis; the consequences which supposedly flow from the events and what they supposedly justify. If that excludes me from the little essentialist historian’s club, then I’m glad to be excluded.


  5. “… the little essentialist historian’s club …”

    Sounds intriguing, Lew.

    But what in the name of academic gobbledygook does it mean?!

  6. Why, Chris, I mean the little club of historians you seem to have founded which decries anyone failing to pay due respect to colonial manifest destiny (arrayed against the dark forces of savage tribalism) as postmodern cringers.


  7. Chris,

    Straw men aside, I think you went over the top with your last para, and only have yourself to blame for that. PC’s latest post glories in the nuclear slaughter of Japanese women and children!

    I agree the ahistoricism of reckless idiots like Tame Iti and other Tuhoe leadership is annoying (those guys took chutzpah to a new level demanding the Crown force Te Arawa to apologise for utu- even Lew probably secretly agress with that!), but Tame may well be more Brown Brownlee than Te Kooti.

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