This Newshub article raised eyebrows, so we asked two respected historians to comment on it.

by John Robinson

The idea that past genocide should be accepted and rewarded is repugnant.  As noted in the article, the principle of acceptance of past was established early in New Zealand law; this is a nation lacking any moral code.  Many early Maori asked the British to “give us law”, where the Maori ways (tikanga) were to be replaced.  The opportunity to establish common humanity as a benchmark was missed, and is absent today.  The law is at fault, and those Ngati Mutunga claiming rights based on the killing should be told to shut up and go away, laughed out of court.  That this is taken seriously shows the moral bankruptcy of this country.

I have written of this.

In The kingite rebellion: page 66 —

This is seen in the 1870 Native Land Court ruling on the Chatham Islands.  “The Court … is of the opinion that Wi Naera Pomare and his co-claimants have clearly shown that the original inhabitants of these Islands were conquered by them and the lands were taken possession of by force of arms and the Moriori people were made subject to their rule and also that they maintained their conquest by actual occupation without having subsequently given up any part of the estate to the original owners.”  Although occupation is considered as one element of ownership, the division of land was decided largely on the basis of subjugation.  “Rogan awarded 15,520 hectares to the Maori claimants and 240 hectares to the Moriori.  The decision showed that Rogan considered native customary usage on the Chathams to be Maori custom, not that of the Moriori, and his judgement strengthened the Maori case of ownership by right of conquest and subjugation.  That 240 hectares is a mere 1.55% of the land.

In Two great New Zealanders, the wisdom of Tamati Waka Nene and Apirana Ngata: page 309 —

The fate of the Moriori provides a graphic illustration of the impact of genocide, of the ultimate impact of conquest.  The initial attack killed 300 or one-fifth of Moriori, and many (one estimate is 1,336) died subsequently of despair, leaving 101 Moriori still alive in 1862.  The result of slavery was physical deformity and a high death rate.

by Bruce Moon

As hunter-gatherers, each tribe needed a hunting area or “rohe” of its own but as intertribal warfare was their favourite sport, this meant incursions into the rohe of another tribe and often its acquisition by conquest.  The process has been described by Michael King in Moriori [i] with eyewitness accounts of those events, a mere five years before the Treaty was signed.  “[V]ictims were killed by a blow … to the temple.  Afterwards, … the heads were removed and thrown to the dogs … Then the virile member [penis] … was thrown to the women … who ate this dainty morsel eagerly.”  The remainder of the body was then dismembered, washed and cooked in a “hangi”.

As King continues: “[W]hat took place was simply tikanga, the traditional manner of supporting new land claims.  As Rakatau noted with some satisfaction in the Native Land Court in 1870: ‘ we took possession … in accordance with our customs … .’ … The outcome was nothing more nor less than what had occurred on battlefields throughout the North Island.”

By contrast and as far as I know, not a single Maori was killed and eaten by any settler from Britain as part of the process of obtaining land.

[i]      Michael King, Moriori, Viking, 1989, pp. 64-66, ISBN 978-0-670-82655-3