Today we welcome a new columnist in Dr John Robinson. John lives in Waikanae and his writings on our past challenge many of the politically correct myths which many so-called professional historians perpetuate.
Revisionism of revisionism: taking history back to reality
By John Robinson
I am a retired scientist with an interest in New Zealand history.
I have written a few books on the interactions among and between Maori and Europeans in the early days of contact.
I moved to Waikanae early this year, and have prepared a series of articles introducing some of the information I have gathered.
This first one is an introduction to my background and history writing.
A background in researching futures
After a period as a research scientist, an applied mathematician specialising in fluid dynamics. I came to recognise that many long-term trends were taking the world towards a global collapse, around 2030.
In 1972 I started to work in holistic futures research. That was fruitful until 1984, when employment opportunities disappeared.
My capacity to look across cultures and across time led to a study of Maori futures, with research into Maori social trends, along with a few reports for the Treaty of Waitangi Research Unit at Victoria University under contract to the Crown Forestry Research Trust.
I eventually ran into trouble when I found it impossible to support their insistence of great wrongs done by colonisation in the nineteenth century.
Conforming to get paid
The facts that I was asked to consider showed that at the same time that land was being sold, the population was recovering from the collapse that was evident from the first few census counts.
The required correlation between land loss and population decline did not exist. But I could only get paid if I blurred and hid that message.
Once I had retired (or rather, once I was no longer employed) I was free to follow the evidence without pressure to conform to a predetermined current picture.
Social disintegration in Maori society
It is simple enough. Savage inter-tribal warfare had led to social disintegration, and by 1840 there was a considerable shortage of women and girls in the Maori population.
Few women meant few new births. Few girls (the mothers of the future) meant a lack of women to produce children for decades into the future.
Decline was inevitable and the turnaround, within 40 years, was rapid in population dynamics, which is a generations-long process.
A paper on this work was rejected, and claims of collapse caused by the Treaty continue to dominate current ‘scholarship’.
This is one topic for a future article.
Chiefs seek British help to end the disastrous tribal wars
Many Maori were themselves deeply concerned with the extraordinary nation-wide intertribal warfare and could see that their society was dysfunctional, and that their numbers were reducing significantly.
That, along with the new culture on offer, led them, in particular a group of Northern chiefs, to seek change. They repeatedly asked the British for help before welcoming the Treaty of Waitangi – they were so keen that after one short day of debate they caught Hobson unawares with a demand to sign the very next day.
The cultural revolution was general, with a majority of Maori signing up to Christianity in the years around 1840.
My conclusions have not been fashionable
These changes are described in When two cultures meet, the New Zealand Experience (2012, all my books are printed by Tross Publishing). While based firmly on accounts of the time, this picture is currently unfashionable.
Further comments critical of the conventional wisdom, and of the wholesale recent ‘revisionist’ rewriting of history, are found in contributions to two co-authored books, Twisting the Treaty, a Racial Grab for Wealth and Power (2013) and One Treaty, One Nation (2015).
Scientists are used to asking questions, finding problems, and seeking solutions, and that has been my approach to New Zealand history. Can we follow the changes in Maori thinking, I asked?
Certainly, they were human beings like us all. Thus Two great New Zealanders, Tamati Waka Nene and Apirana Ngata (2015).
Then, how was it that a king movement, with a figurehead ‘monarch’, the old warrior Te Wherowheo (renamed Potatau), who was a friend and confidant of Governors, raised the flag of rebellion?
The answer is in the divisions among the chiefs, with the hawks forcing the doves into conflict – rather like the politics of today. This is described in The Kingite Rebellion (2016), which, with its many short chapters, provides the material for many of the coming articles.
Difficulty getting the truth published
Any nonconformist author will find that it is impossible to get a book reviewed; papers have reduced their staff and must answer to wealthy, often overseas, owners with their class-based agendas – and many alternative publishers are only manned by one or two overworked and ove-stressed individuals, who fail to respond to any approach.
The Kapiti Independent offers one alternative, for which we must be thankful. I enjoy telling the real story of New Zealand and welcome the opportunity.
I could even get on to the future of the world, which is dire indeed, as argued in A plague of people, how a suicidal culture of growth is destroying modern society and the environment (2013).