Thanks to Lindsay Mitchell (here), Alf has some idea of what to expect when he gets around to reading the report from the Glenn Inquiry which has become the talk of the town.
She points out that a large majority of submitters were female and we are hence given the resounding impression that the overwhelming problem lies with men.
It seems she thinks otherwise and Alf is tempted to agree.
But that’s not all. She adds:
Oh and the colonist-blaming conveniently pops up.
Mitchell quotes this bit of the report.
Māori were once a people who held in high esteem their tamariki (children) and wāhine (women) because of the treasured roles they had in their whānau, hapū (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribe). Nevertheless, colonisation brought with it new ways, including privileging the place of men, which rendered women and children as their possessions (Section 4, p127).
Alf until now has been harbouring under the very misguided impression that Maori were partial to children, sure enough, way back in history.
They would eat them or enslave them – some of them, at least.
This calumny obviously was spread by missionaries who did not understand the gentle nature of the people they were observing and trying to convert to Christianity.
Alf recalls reading the following extraordinary example of how the missionaries impugned the good name of the indigenous persons and misled us about their treatment of women and children.
He feels obliged to quote it, just to show the wrong that was done by these missionaries’ fevered or malevolent imaginations:
It is called Mission Life, Volume I (first series) (1866), but readers are warned there can be no assurance the book is not a pack of lies:
Children of tender years were utterly neglected, and thousands died yearly from [139/140] neglect; while infanticide, particularly of female children, (who were useless in war, and costly to maintain in times of scarcity,) was so general, that at this day the proportion of women to men is seldom higher in any district than seven to ten; a disproportion which, tested by natural laws, can be accounted for by no other possible reason than the destruction in infancy of a large proportion of the sex.
Of those who survived, the great majority were corrupted in their earliest years. As they grew up, labour of the severest sort, all the drudgery of the field and of the home, was laid upon them, causing them soon to lose all traces of the beautiful or the graceful, in which they were not deficient for the short term of life which passes before they are crushed by hard work or degraded by harsh usage
And then there’s this:
Some time previous to 1833, a fishing canoe of the Waikato was driven ashore at Waitara, in the beautiful Taranki country, when most of the crew were cruelly murdered and eaten by the Ngatiawa tribe then dwelling there. In revenge for this, Te Potatau, a great chief of the Waikato, and the native who was afterwards chosen for the first Maori king by the present rebels, made a fell swoop upon the Ngatiawas; stormed their fortress; pitched over the cliff’, tomahawked, and slew some 1100 men, women, and children, picked out about 200 for slaves; and then, marched back with many baskets of flesh, leaving the place such a shambles that the air for miles round was tainted.”
The National Library of New Zealand contains something called “Warfare of the Maori” by E.G.Schwimmer. It says:
No quarter was given in battle so that life could only be saved by flight, but it was during flight that the pursuers killed most of their enemies. Not many war parties were completely exterminated but more than a few lost a very large percentage of their members. Most captives were killed and eaten; some—especially women and children—were enslaved. But often these also were eaten.
Some of the bones of the slain were saved, as further indignity, for making flutes, heads of bird spears, fish hooks, rings for captive parrots, pins and needles. Heads were sometimes thrown on a heap in a grisly ball game, occasionally they were impaled on the stockades of a pa. Heads of both friend or enemy, if belonging to great chiefs, were at times taken home and preserved.
This Schwimmer person should have studied the welfare of Maori, instead of their warfare.
If the Glenn inquiry does nothing else, it has put the record straight thanks to all the advantages we have nowadays of being able to look back 170 years or so to see things with so much greater clarity.