By Bruce Moon

The Protect Ihumatao organisation — bold claims

Ihumatao 1The Ihumatao campaign is an interesting example of the complexity of New Zealand. Protect Iumatao:  Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) describes itself as “inclusive of residents, ratepayers, community members and interested parties”. It refers to :

  • the fraught history of Crown-Maori relations 
  • a Pakeha law and Pakeha processes [that] have driven a wedge between affected Maori creating a divided house 
  • that the government must intervene and create  meaningful engagement so that all affected Maori can express their concerns and interests 
  • that our country’s reputation is at stake 
  • that it cannot afford to be seen internationally to override the basic human rights of our indigenous people.

Issues concerning the appropriate use of the land in question, I leave to others.

Ihumatao 2However, it is timely to consider just who are the people that have allegedly suffered at the hand of Pakeha, the society that Pakeha have driven a wedge through and the “indigenous people” whose basic human rights are being overridden.

Polynesian settlers – a stone age culture with a warrior tradition

A few centuries before the arrival of Europeans, New Zealand became populated by tribal groups of Polynesian people who settled here in several waves of canoe voyaging. They had stone age technology (there was no wheel and no metal) coupled with survival by hunter-gathering, fishing and subsistence farming. While components of the various tribal groups may have provided some social stability, the tribal structure itself did not. 

There was no common sense of Maori identity, welfare and well-being or even a uniform language

1830s hakaRather, the tribes were variously parties to treacherous warfare, accompanied by cannibalism, slavery and female infanticide. The cultural tradition was a warrior tradition with brutal consequences.  Early European explorers found out as much to their cost. Among the first: one of Tasman’s boat’s crews, Frenchman Marion du Fresne and 26 of his men, a dozen from Cook’s ship Adventure were all the victims of cannibal feasts.

The Musket (Inter-tribal) Wars

When Hongi Hika went overseas and returned with hundreds of muskets, the consequences were dire. One third of the entire Maori population were slaughtered in a few decades of inter-tribal warfare and it was this which so tragically accounts almost entirely for the decline of the Maori population in the first few decades of the colonial era.   [Wikipedia article]

These tribal battles resulted, among other things, in so many young females of breeding age being, quite simply, slaughtered. 

And, of course, the tribal massacres carried out by Hone Heke, Te Waharoa, Te Rauparaha and others cannot be overlooked in terms of both history and human vicissitude.

The benefits of colonisation

In sharp contrast to this increasingly destructive tribal regime, colonisation provided stability, structure and revitalisation. It brought new technology and opportunity and also a democratic tradition incorporating freedom of speech. 

The people of New Zealand reinvented themselves. As with any society, development has not on occasions been even across the board or ‘fair’.  And the challenge of any society is to protect all its members. 

However, to claim that colonisation per se has overridden the basic human rights of indigenous people is simply to misconstrue history.

Indeed, colonisation protected the Maori people from themselves and inter-racial marriages became widespread, contributing to the richness of New Zealand.  With so many Ihumatao protesters having some colonists’ blood in their veins, this is the human reality today.


Another critical analysis of the revisionist narrative being fed to us by the Jacinda government via its sycophantic Mainstream Media is to be found on TheBFD website here