The indigenous people of this country have cause to be somewhat nervous this morning.
One of their number is saying the status of Maori as “indigenous” needs to be investigated.
If such an investigation was to establish that our Maori fellow citizens are not quite as indigenous as they claim, then…
Well, they can no longer claim to be “special” under that United Nations thing (see here) that John Key agreed to a year or so back to keep his Maori Party coalition mates happy.
The call for an investigation can be found here.
Ngapuhi leader David Rankin says that the status of Maori as New Zealand’s indigenous population needs to be investigated in light of new research that is emerging which suggests that previous civilizations lived in New Zealand prior to Maori arriving.
“I am not saying that these researchers are completely right” says Mr Rankin, “but we now have books by Ian Wishart, Noel Hilliam, and others which present clear evidence that some of the earliest arrivals might have reached New Zealand before the Polynesians”.
Mr Rankin points to numerous Maori oral histories which refer to people being here when the first Maori arrived, including fair-skinned people. “If we believe our histories, then we as Maori are not the indigenous people of New Zealand” he says.
He also says that the archaeological evidence in some research is a potential challenge to the status of Maori as indigenous, which is why he believes no other Maori is prepared to speak publically on these issues.
And if they aren’t indigenous, they can’t be “special”.
Maori doubtless get a big buzz about being “special”, because perks come with the special status.
But that doesn’t explain a reluctance among historians to check out who got here first.
Rankin has a view, however –
Mr Rankin believes that details of much of the country’s past is being concealed by academic historians.
“I would say it’s a conspiracy. They are worried that their own research will be exposed so they have worked hard to ridicule and suppress any Maori history which disagrees with their views”, he says.
“However”, says Mr Rankin “the tide is turning and more people are now seeing that there is a whole history of our country that has been concealed and which will have major implications for Treaty settlements for example”.
Alf has long harboured the unfashionable view that this country was first inhabited by Vikings.
At least, he harboured that unfashionable view until recently.
But he has been persuaded that people from England – way, way back in history, before Alfred burned the cake and long, long before Captain Cook – perhaps got here first.
It would be good to have this thoroughly checked out.
Dunno if any of Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s research would have to be revisited, if it were to be established that the Anglo-Saxons, Celts, Picts or some other mob from Mother England got here first.
She is director of Te Kotahi Research Institute, Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori at Waikato University, Dean of the School of Māori and Pacific Development, and Professor of Education and Māori Development.
She is described here as
… a leading international authority on indigenous education and health, and is particularly well-known for her book “Decolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples”.
She is a member of the Marsden Fund, serves on New Zealand’s Health Research Council, chairing the Māori Health Research Committee, and is past president of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education.
She has extensive experience in building Māori and indigenous research capacity, and has helped establish three research institutes – including Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence.
She and her team at Te Kotahi Research Institute seem ideally set up to do the work urged by that Rankin feller.
Alf likes the idea of someone called Linda Smith being embroiled in studies into matters indigenous, aided and abetted by staff members with surnames like Hudson, Skipper and Reid.
If his theory is correct, the suspiciously English sound of their surnames would be explained.