by Roger Childs
Some readers will have seen the Dominion Post article on Monday 9 March which incredibly devoted two full pages to the recent publication Imagining Decolonisation. The headline Why colonisation is bad for everyone would have put many off proceeding further and they would indeed have been wise not to continue.
Early on the statement was made – When we think about colonisation, we tend to think about the ways it has affected indigenous communities and these have been overwhelmingly negative. Certainly this was true in South America, Australia and parts of Africa, but not New Zealand. The article then goes on to “talk” about colonisation being bad for the colonisers of our country.
Fundamentally, the article has a false premise which throws into question all the conclusions the book no doubt includes. Colonisation was overwhelmingly positive for Maori and non-Maori alike. In the 40 years before the enlightened Treaty of Waitangi, there were over 600 inter-tribal battles fought amongst the diverse native peoples with some smaller iwi wiped out and over 40,000 men, women and children were probably killed. For women especially it was generally a life of fear, insecurity and exploitation, and many were killed and eaten after battles, or raped, abducted and enslaved.
Colonisation has brought hospitals, schools, houses, modern technology, fresh food, shops, roads and railways, sport and entertainment, welfare benefits, the cash economy — to name a few positives.
Kiwis who have some Maori blood should compare the fate of Australian Aborigines and South African Blacks under colonisation with that of New Zealand’s native peoples after 1840.
Many New Zealanders suffered in the depressions and wars of the 19th and 20th centuries, but the vast majority now live comfortable, secure lives.
How many people today who themselves, or their ancestors, came from the British Isles, the Pacific Islands, Asia and elsewhere would regret their move to this country?
There is a clear message here for all New Zealanders – our history should not be twisted to suit particular agendas and viewpoints. Look at the facts and the evidence of what people were saying at the time.