Putiki pa circa 1850 by John Gilfillan (via Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand)

by Ross Meurant

Various academics of Māori lineage collectively seem to hold the view “Māori don’t need Western science to endorse or authenticate our knowledge systems.” (1)

The problem with this is perhaps exposed by the following claim:

“A new paper by the University of Otago combines literature and oral histories, and concludes that Māori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand, were likely the first people to explore Antarctica’s surrounding waters, and possibly the continent in the distance. They write that Māori and Polynesian journeys to the deep south have been occurring for a long time, perhaps as far back as the seventh century, and are recorded in a variety of oral traditions. According to the oral histories of Māori tribal groups Ngāti Rārua and Te Āti Awa, the first human to travel to the Antarctic was the Polynesian explorer, Hui Te Rangiora.” (2)

For an ethic group that had no written language to record events, passage of time erodes accuracy. As a former detective I learned well that a week’s delay in recording evidence, let alone a year or 1200 years, makes a big difference.  Oral transfer of past events gets distorted, exaggerated and invariably is a bare resemblance to what actually happened.

If one is to juxtapose these claims of re-writing history to suit the current global trend, against the following references to history which few would dispute as accurate in the context surviving the Antarctica, as a New Zealander, with a reasonable level of university education and perhaps a higher level of political awareness; of experience in travel/work/ residence in 69 countries during a total of seven years out of New Zealand, and to the chagrin of many – royal Maori pedigree (3), find some of the claims being made about Maori myth superseding Western science as insulting of my heritage at best and utter crap at worst.

Take as one example the late Sir Peter Blake.  This highly skilled and experienced ocean-going mariner, talked about how hostile, treacherous and dangerous the Great Southern Ocean is to navigate on the way to Antarctica. How did the Maori manage that on their outriggers/canoes and what clothing and footwear did they wear to cope with the freezing conditions? No thermal underwear back then!! Did they have ice breakers?

Look at the many challenges faced by the renowned Antarctica explorers, Ernest Henry Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott, on the frozen continent and they had equipment, clothing and supplies suitable for that harsh and unforgiving environment.

I say to those who claim Māori went to Antarctica as far back as 700 AD and even if these alleged excursions were as recent as 1700 AD it should be clearly demonstrated that the claims they make were possible!  Like, put up or shut up!

Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl (1914–2002) is one of history’s most famous adventurers and explorers. (4) (Note: I also have Norwegian pedigree – as well as Maori, French, Scottish and Irish – and I speak Russian.)

In 1947 Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific Ocean from South America on the balsawood raft Kon-Tiki. Heyerdahl was convinced that the first humans to reach Easter Island – and other islands in the eastern part of Polynesia – came from South America. Only later did people come to Polynesia from the west, and then via the northwest coast of Canada and Hawaii.

The peoples of South America did not have seaworthy rafts or boats that could take them as far as the Polynesian islands, according to scholars with whom Heyerdahl discussed the subject. So, in order to prove that it was possible, he decided to build a raft and make the journey himself.  He put up!

So I say to those who make the claims I reference above: jump in a canoe with a paddle and a grass skirt, no thermal gear, no sextant and no harpoon or spear gun — and see what happens!

And to the academics who demonstrated personal integrity by not buying into some of the myths which now looms as the standard of education to replace Western science, I say:  Apologies on behalf of our stalwart political leaders – for failing to come to your defence.  After all, in our democracy, free speech is part of the menu.

Footnotes:

  1. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/scientists-rubbish-auckland-university-professors-letter-claiming-maori-knowledge-is-not-science/GN55DAZCM47TOZUTPYP2Q3CSLM/
  2. https://www.livescience.com/indigenous-people-discovered-antarctica.html
  3.  https://www.nzcpr.com/a-step-too-far-bi-cultural-partnership/
  4. https://www.kon-tiki.no/expeditions/kon-tiki-expedition/

Ross Meurant is a graduate in politics both at university and as a National MP; formerly police inspector in charge of Auckland spies & V.I.P. security; currently Honorary Consul for an African state, Trustee and CEO of Russian-owned commercial assets in New Zealand and has international business interest.


In addition to the references cited, there is this article in the NZ Herald of 24 June which has the headline:

Matariki heralds in a new Indigenous Science Centre for University of Otago

Among other extraordinary statements in it:

“Otago will be soon graduating students who have a deeper understanding of mātauranga Māori; they will be of enormous service to iwi, hapū and whānau, and to our nation.

“As a country we need to value and apply more mātauranga to help address the biodiversity and climate crises. This is a huge moment for Otago and tertiary education worldwide.”

“As a period of reflection and new beginnings, Matariki will also be a time to move through the findings of a recent review at the University of Otago which identified systemic racism in the organisation, and to look forward and celebrate the tenth year of Te Koronga, the University’s Indigenous Science Research Theme and Māori postgraduate research excellence.”

“The kaupapa of Te Koronga describes the ardent yearning and striving for esoteric knowledge as we seek to explore the breadth and depth of mātauranga for flourishing wellness, both for our people and our environments,” Phillips says.

“This strong foundation continues to drive our direction and future focus for the betterment of the students we teach, the communities we serve, and the environments we depend on for our health and wellbeing”.

All this only really demonstrates that government insitutions are engaged in a competition to outdo each other in Wokeism. Did universities used to crow about courses they offered? How exactly are their courses going to address “the biodiversity and climate crises.” By encouraging the planting of native trees rather than plantations of environmentally unhelpful Monterey pine trees just to get ‘carbon credits’? Isn’t the Wellington region doing that already? What else please?

The other issue that arises is what use will being a graduate of such courses have other than in being a Public Servant in Jacindaland? How likely is it to open up opportunities elsewhere in the world?