NZ built on dispossession and indigenous suffering

LETTER

Re: Most ridiculous claim yet, October 4 letter.

I would direct Mr Mulrooney to the work of Larry Gross, chair of Native American Studies at the University of Redlands in California. Gross speaks of “post-apocalyptic stress syndrome”, “When a culture experiences such a massive shock that it never fully recovers.”

This brings to mind the dysfunction we see in many indigenous cultures today, post colonisation. He sees similarities between post-14th century Europe, which suffered the cataclysm of the Black Death, and the indigenous experience of colonisation. “Both resulted in an intergenerational pandemic of post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide and widespread substance abuse.”

Gross has identified this syndrome in indigenous and settler communities. He even includes white manufacturing workers in the USA, whose industry collapsed and affected their way of life and world view.

Modern New Zealand is built on dispossession and past indigenous suffering. This is not interpretation, it is history. The scale of dispossession and suffering was culture-wide and national, with land dispossessions, bloodshed, destruction of marae, theft of cultural artefacts, denial of culture and language, etc. These abuses are well documented, and are a well-worn path in the history of colonisation. This is what colonisation is.

Mr Mulrooney, however, chooses to blame the victim, a common tactic used by the dominant culture. So we have the “drunken Irish”, “lazy, drunken Aborigines” in Australia, “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” and so on. Instead of pointing the finger of blame, he could perhaps try a little compassion and seek to understand the cataclysm that European settlement was to Maori then and now.

James O’Malley

Taupo

Re: Most ridiculous claim yet, October 4 letter.

I would direct Mr Mulrooney to the work of Larry Gross, chair of Native American Studies at the University of Redlands in California. Gross speaks of “post-apocalyptic stress syndrome”, “When a culture experiences such a massive shock that it never fully recovers.”

This brings to mind the dysfunction we see in many indigenous cultures today, post colonisation. He sees similarities between post-14th century Europe, which suffered the cataclysm of the Black Death, and the indigenous experience of colonisation. “Both resulted in an intergenerational pandemic of post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide and widespread substance abuse.”

Gross has identified this syndrome in indigenous and settler communities. He even includes white manufacturing workers in the USA, whose industry collapsed and affected their way of life and world view.

Modern New Zealand is built on dispossession and past indigenous suffering. This is not interpretation, it is history. The scale of dispossession and suffering was culture-wide and national, with land dispossessions, bloodshed, destruction of marae, theft of cultural artefacts, denial of culture and language, etc. These abuses are well documented, and are a well-worn path in the history of colonisation. This is what colonisation is.

Mr Mulrooney, however, chooses to blame the victim, a common tactic used by the dominant culture. So we have the “drunken Irish”, “lazy, drunken Aborigines” in Australia, “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” and so on. Instead of pointing the finger of blame, he could perhaps try a little compassion and seek to understand the cataclysm that European settlement was to Maori then and now.

James O’Malley

Taupo

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Tony - 2 months ago
Bravo!

Gordon Anderson, Napier - 2 months ago
James, your rendition or should I say the reinvention of history and of the scale of the disposition of Maori culture is nothing more than what is expected of the self-serving garbage that is ever-too prevalent in today's media by some. Bitterness is a hard pill to swallow and will blind you from the opportunities ahead for the future of NZ.
James our written history is less than 200 years old and yet it is being adulterated and reinvented by too many for their own financial, political and self gain.
The Treaty may not have been perfect but it was accepted by the leaders of Maori at the time. It has taken Maori from a stone age, subsistence existence to a new age, and gave them security and hope.
The signing of the Treaty gave Maori full rights as British citizens with all the benefits, if the chose to take them and many did, while at the same time retaining their own land and culture. What they chose to do with these rights was up to them.
The Treaty was not about partnership as is so often claimed by many, but the protection of Maori by the Crown and from themselves as a war-making society. There is evidence to suggest if this had not happened, then Maori could have self-destructed as that was happening at the time.
As a point, NZ is made up of 26.8 million hectares of land. In 1870 Maori still owned 75 percent of their land and consequently sold 23.13 million hectares. It was not taken as is so often claimed. The chiefs of the past all had the final say over the ownership of their land and sold it, taking the Queen's shillings and other goods as payment.
James, take heed of the words of the great Maori politician, Apirana Ngata. If Maori want to blame others for the past, look to the actions of their forefathers.
James, if you take time to look at the date and history of the so-called musket wars you will find that these were wars of Maori against Maori seeking utu of the past.
If you take time to look at the land war claims, look at the dates 1864-46, 26 years after the signing of the Treaty. These are dates that are conveniently forgotten by those claiming injustice of those times and still today.
The imperial troops and the Maori who supported them, and many did, in these claimed land wars were doing nothing more than holding article 3 of the Treaty, the protection of Maori and the settlers.
Another unsavory part of our settlement history that is conveniently forgotten and never mentioned James is the murder, the rape the destruction and carnage that was undertaken by Maori against the defenseless and often isolated settlers at this time, only 180 years ago.
Where is the memory of those settlers and their children preserved James?
Sure, there were acts undertaken by the imperial troops that went against civil convention, but this a new age James and if we are to go forward, you have to stop looking over your shoulder to the past as you will trip over the opportunities of the future - and there are plenty of them.

lloyd gretton - 2 months ago
That sounds like the dispossessed middle classes today. That has brought in Donald Trump and all the other far right and far left electoral successes. The new colonists appear to be the robots. They are not lazy and always breaking down and complaining.

wiki gerrard - 2 months ago
James your opinion piece is so true of the abuses done to all the indigenous peoples around the world by colonisation, as history shows this. I am now going to read the work of Larry Gross. Thanking you.

Lara Meyer - 2 months ago
Well said Mr O'Malley.
It's interesting that The Gisborne Herald chose to publish Mr Mulrooney's inflammatory and ill-informed opinion piece without waiting for an accompanying response from a kaumatua or representation by a local iwi.

Baz Davies - 2 months ago
One would think that Maori were unaware of land dispossession, bloodshed, destruction of marae, theft of cultural artefacts, and slavery pre- European colonisation.
Maori life was built on tribal warfare, land wars, cannabilism and slavery. This is also not interpretation, it is history.
Hongi Hika and Te Rauparaha used colonisation and European technology to good effect by killing rival iwi via the musket. The trade in heads and culteral artefacts was also used by Maori to gain powder and shot.
It's true that some of the methods used by land-hungry colonist's was underhanded and down-right cruel.
My ancestors experienced it first-hand. They nd were raped, plundered, dispossessed and colonised by the Romans, the Vikings, and the Normans. The land that we once owned is long gone. But we don't dwell on it and use it as an excuse for life's problems.
Although it must have been a traumatic start for Maori, with many changes, the benefits that came from colonisation and the technology it provided has got to be a better way of life.

John Porter - 2 months ago
Gordon Anderson's tedious comments about the James O'Malley letter are not just a reinvention of the events surrounding the Pakeha criminal invasion of Aotearoa, but more a reconfiguration of an alternate reality!
In fact, I am reminded of the very popular Dr Seuss and his predilection for racial stereotypes of non-white characters in his books for children.
Perhaps Anderson should consider devoting his talents to entertaining a younger, less discriminating audience.
He should do well.

Gordon Webb - 2 months ago
To our probable chagrin, New Zealanders don't do guilt very well but that is nicely matched by a reluctance on the part of Maori to acknowledge that anything but misery came from European migration. We should leave it there and focus on the well entrenched Treaty settlement process.

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