Author(s): John Robinson
Maori society was in disarray in the early nineteenth century. While slavery in the deep south of the USA was terrible, in New Zealand it was brutal, with unexpected death and cannibalism a constant threat. There was mass killing. In the years following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, British forces imposed peace, bringing an end to intertribal warfare, torture, slavery and cannibalism. The Maori population steadily recovered from the ravages of the terrible past. That was a great achievement, to be celebrated. The way ahead could then be based on common identity and equality. The outcome for Maori was not catastrophe but demographic recovery. It is shown here that the decrease of population after 1840 was entirely a consequence of the initial abnormal population distribution, with a lack of young and a shortage of women, as well as continuing female infanticide. However, the rewriting of history in support of separatist claims is demanded of ‘scholars’. The repetition of causes for grievance then increases racial tensions while turning attention away from the worsening economic and social conditions of so many ordinary Maori.
This book explores that background and outlines some of the consequencesof the insistence on grievance, with a people becoming ever more divided. Racial privileges based on the accidents of history are now part of New Zealand law and are dividing a nation that was built on the worthy aspiration of “one law for all”. The continuing division of the land and writing of new law in back room deals, from which the public are excluded (as described here), is corrupting our once proud democracy.