by Roger Childs

It is … rare that someone who openly comes from the left side of the political spectrum, will produce historical analysis and conclusions that are so often in line with enlightened political views from the right. In this regard John’s books are treasures and serve to bring us politically closer together.” –Businessman, author and history researcher Andy Oakley

Another classic book from John Robinson

Waikanae’s John Robinson is a prolific writer on New Zealand history and the quality of his books is consistently high. 

He is prepared to fearlessly and honestly take on some of the tougher topics of New Zealand history that other, better-known historians studiously and gutlessly avoid. Regaining a Nation is a logical follow-up to his earlier book on the disastrous He Puapua campaign which the Jacinda Ardern government continues to pursue relentlessly.

His first sentence sets the tone for what is to follow: Our country, New Zealand, the place where we live, is in deep trouble. And his last statement sums up what I’m sure most Kiwis can identify with: We should all be proud of our heritage, proud to be New Zealanders.

A book of four parts

In a concise introduction John spells out the plan for the book, and then summarizes how the revolution, pursued by the Maori tribal elites and their political fellow travelers in the Labour government and the media, has led to the crisis we are currently experiencing.

Part I is about colonization that the Maori activists condemn for stealing their land, destroying their culture and oppressing their people. John points out that in reality the setting up of New Zealand as a British colony probably saved Maori from self-destruction, as it brought to an end to the worst elements of the tikanga of the time – inter-tribal warfare, cannibalism, slavery, female infanticide and the oppression of women. 

Over the last 180 years the life expectancy for Maori has steadily risen; the population has grown significantly, especially in the twentieth century, and living standards have improved with better access to health and education services. From the Second World War on with the influx of Maori into urban areas there have been wider job opportunities and incomes have increased. There is plenty for Maori and all New Zealanders to “celebrate” from colonisation.

Part 2 gets into the specifics of the factors that have built New Zealand into a modern, prosperous democracy. Crucial elements in this process have been the expansion of the economy and exports, and the opening up of the country as roads, railways, bridges and tunnels made connections between isolated areas and linked the major settlements.

As John says, it has been “a proud story” and for all New Zealanders, and for Maori in particular, colonisation has been responsible for:-

  • Not bringing slavery but freedom
  • Not bringing war but peace and security
  • Not conquest but coming in friendship, answering a call for help
  • Not bringing racism but equality.

The sad story of the undermining of New Zealand’s democracy

Part 3 covers the road to increasing tribalism and preferential treatment for the Maori elites in particular. The first chapter is on the Waitangi Tribunal whose members have made the organisation a very powerful, self-sustaining and racist institution. Only Maori can take cases to the Tribunal despite the fact that non-Maori have suffered hundreds of breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

Billions of dollars, provided by the taxpayer, have been handed out to the tribes, but little has trickled down to the poorer, non-political Maori people. Meanwhile, as the He Puapua programme, aiming ultimately at co-governance, is steadily being rolled out, the iwi leaders, politicians and academics have got richer, and more powerful.

Elizabeth Rata sums up what has happened. “It is a coup d’état in all but name, accomplished not by force but by ideology – enabled by a compliant media.”

The great challenge ahead

The climax of this very thorough and informative book is about what needs to happen in a counter-revolution. To regain equality and democracy, John spells out 14 policies which need to be carried out to end the favourtism and tribalism which has made Maori “more equal than others” over the last fifty years.

He also emphasizes that the diverse groups and lobbies who want change need to come together with the one clear goal, which is an insistence on equality in law and government and a refusal of racial separation. He makes the point that the majority is currently unaware of what has happened. Clearly people need to co-operate to re-establish that egalitarian society where everyone can have a fair go …

As in his other books John Robinson’s research is thorough and meticulous; his analysis is thoughtful and perceptive, and the conclusions he reaches are carefully backed up with evidence.

This is book that should be widely read. A small ideologically driven minority is steadily taking over the country and the majority of Kiwis need to stand up and resist the process and take us back to the days of equality and democracy.

(John Robinson’s Regaining a Nation can be bought at good bookshops or ordered directly from Tross Publishing for $35 postage included.)