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Archive for September, 2013

Melbourne Storm Thunderbolts finish season with a good win against Gold Coast Titans 30-10

English: AAMI park

English: AAMI park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


B)300px-MelbourneStormsafe_image (2)

Melbourne Storm Under 20’s final game for 2013:

The NYC Thunderbolts have finished the 2013 season on a high with a 30-10 win over the Gold Coast Titans at AAMI Park.

The home side got on the front foot from the get go, opening the scoring with just seven minutes on the clock. Dane Chang opened the Thunderbolts’ account, adding another four pointer to his season tally when he crossed in the corner.

A relentless Thunderbolts outfit continued to apply early pressure to the Titans and did not take long to push further ahead. Melbourne halfback Matt McGahan found his way through the Gold Coast defensive line to add the points for his side.

Six minutes later, Chang found the try line for his second of the match allowing the Thunderbolts to kick away from the 15th placed Titans.

Max Fesolai’s try rounded out an impressive first half performance from the home side, allowing Melbourne to take a 20-0 lead into the main break.

A rejuvenated Gold Coast side returned to the field following the half-time break and instantly looked more cohesive in attack.

Two tries within five minutes to Tevita Folau brought the visitors back into the contest. However, the Thunderbolts managed to hold out a wave of Gold Coast attacks and defend their narrow lead.

Late tries to Billy Brittain and Richard Kennar put the icing on the cake as the Thunderbolts rounded out their 2013 season with a victory.

Melbourne Storm 30:

Tries: Dane Chang 7m, Matt McGahan 10m, Dane Chang 16m, M Sesola 25m, Billy Brittain 73m, Richard Kennar 80m

Goals: Matt McGahan 3

Goldcoast Titans 10

Gold Coast Titans

Gold Coast Titans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Third anniversary of first major life – changing Christchurch/ Canterbury earthquake – September 4 2010….

English: Sand blow in Christchurch, New Zealan...

English: Sand blow in Christchurch, New Zealand, caused by liquefaction during Mw 7.1 Canterbury earthquake on 4 September, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aftermath of September 4th Earthquake in Chris...

Aftermath of September 4th Earthquake in Christchurch, NZ. Storm drains – Brooklands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Third anniversary of life-changing quake

Third anniversary of life-changing quake

By: Annette Lunn, and Lesley Murdoch, | Latest Christchurch News | Wednesday September 4 2013 5:38

UPDATED 8:54am: Many Cantabrians woke up this morning, three years ago – and found everything had changed forever.

Today marks the third anniversary of the September 2010 earthquake – a 7.1 magnitude shake which struck at 4.35am on a Saturday morning.

PHOTOS: September 4, 2010 earthquake

CanCERN spokeswoman Leanne Curtis says for many the September event is the most defining of all the earthquakes felt in Canterbury.

“September was the one that started it all for Cantabrians. It’s when we started shaking and started knowing about words that we didn’t know about before, like liquefaction.

“And that’s when we started to be different to the rest of New Zealand just because of the shared experience that we had.”


Community pulls together in aftermath


Three years on from September 4 2010, that 7.1 magnitude earthquake sound remains etched into Cantabrians minds.


Student Volunteer Army’s Sam Johnson’s enduring memory is not so much the quake itself, but he was blown away by the happenings on Monday, September 6.


“Going out to Halswell on the first day of the Student Army, when we first had a Facebook page, we didn’t know what it was doing and we didn’t know how it was going to go.


“And we just said ‘Turn up at 10 o’clock if you want to help out these residents’.


“And 150 people turned up.”


Sam Johnson says the community reaction blew the students away.


“And then the residents just crying and bringing out $50 or $100, or toasties or scones or muffins and lamingtons to feed the students.

“It was remarkable.”


True story lies in those still waiting


A Labour MP is calling on the insurance industry to tell the true story on earthquake claims in Canterbury.


EQC has revealed that three years of from the September quake, 156,324 claims were filed, out of that – just over 121,000 are still waiting to be paid out.


The Insurance Council has claimed 80 per cent of Canterbury’s residential and property claims from all earthquakes are completed, resolved or scheduled for completion.


Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson says what the Insurance Council needs to understand is that figures about what’s been done, mean nothing to those who are still waiting.


“What we need to know is how many have not, how many situations have they got where people are waiting?


“That’s the true story, if you like.

“We know they’ve done a lot of work, we know that a lot of people have had their repairs or rebuilds done.”


Little surprise at number of unresolved claims


Little surprise from insurance lawyer Andrew Hooker that there’s over 100,000 unresolved September 4th earthquake claims, because of disputes.


Mr Hooker believes the court system is now the only recourse for a lot of the disputes.

“The likes of EQC and the insurance companies appear to be going to great lengths, from what I see, to be inventing ways of repairing things that potentially shouldn’t be repaired.”


Financial help still available


The New Zealand Red Cross is reminding people they still have financial help available.


Red Cross raised $128 million in its Christchurch Earthquake Appeal – which was established in 2011.


Spokeswoman Jane Edgar says all that money has now been allocated and some is still available for people in Christchurch.


“At the moment we have grants for people who have to move house because of earthquake damage, so we can assist people with moving house and storage of their belongings.


“Also have an independent advice grant for home owners that may need to seek advice on their earthquake-damaged property.”

Ms Edgar says those grants are likely to remain open until 2015.


Quake surprised scientists


It wasn’t just residents who were shocked by the early morning wake up, with scientists also keen to figure out just what was going on.


GNS duty seismologist Anna Kaiser says the quake was generated on the Greendale Fault.


“We had a lot of sediments overlaying the fault which meant that it wasn’t obvious at the surface.


“It is also a fault that doesn’t rupture very often so it did happen on a fault that had been previously unknown.”


Ms Kaiser says the more time that passes, the less likely there is to be a major shake but smaller aftershocks are likely to continue for some time.


She says the series of what followed the big quake was to be expected.


“An event like that, a 7.1 which was pretty large, does tend to go on for a while.

“Of course, as everybody knows, aftershocks become less frequent, but you still expect to get the odd magnitude 4.”

Photo: Damaged house in St Albans (Edward Swift)

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NZ Government approves plan to enter the Pike River mine…

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Winston Peters claimed an illegal raid on a former Fijian cabinet minister was “arranged” by the government….

English: This image was taken at the Europa Le...

English: This image was taken at the Europa Lecture 2008, University of Aukland, and is owned by the European Union Centres Network. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

140 px

140 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NZ First leader Winston Peters has told parliament an illegal raid on a former Fijian cabinet minister’s Auckland home was “arranged” by the government


The Security Intelligence Service illegally raided the home of former Fijian cabinet minister Rajesh Singh in Auckland last year, NZ First leader Winston Peters has claimed in parliament.

He said the raid was “an arrangement” between the government and Fiji’s ruling military regime, and the Search and Surveillance Act was breached because SIS agents didn’t identify themselves and refused to produce a search warrant.

Mr Peters also claimed Mr Singh and other members of the Fijian Democracy and Freedom Movement “are some of the 88 people illegally spied on by the GCSB”.

He questioned Acting Prime Minister Bill English on Wednesday, and was told that if he believed anything unlawful had happened he should go to the police.

Mr Peters than asked whether the government had “made an arrangement” with Fiji’s military regime to spy on Mr Singh and other members of the movement.

Mr English said he would be very surprised if the government had made any arrangements with the Fijian government.

“Then why did the commander of the Fijian land forces, Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga, text Mr Singh saying he was about to be raided by the SIS at the exact time the raid was happening?” Mr Peters asked.

“I have no idea,” Mr English replied.

Mr Peters said he had 16 text messages and read out some of them, including one which said: “Hear this, bro terrorist, we did raid you, it was the New Zealand SIS, so ask them.”

He said Prime Minister John Key, who is in the Marshall Islands at the Pacific Island Forum, should come home and explain what happened.

“It’s time for him to start acting like a prime minister, get back to this country, and tell us why he has got the Fijians involved in conspiracies to break the law in this country with the SIS and the GCSB.”

The raid on Mr Singh’s home, and raids on several other properties, were reported by media in July last year.

The reports said the raids were in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate Fiji’s leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Mr Singh complained at the time that a laptop and cellphone had been seized.

Mr Key refused to comment, saying it was an operational matter

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The story: History of immigration to New Zealand

Story: History of immigration

Page 1 – Early years

Last and loneliest

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, New Zealand was seen by Europeans as the most remote country on earth. Fifty years afterCaptain James Cook arrived in 1769, fewer than 200 travellers had ended up settling there. In contrast there were 100,000 Māori. For most Europeans New Zealand was an unappealing prospect, a strange and lonely land reached after 100 days on dangerous seas; its coasts were thought treacherous, its inhabitants bloodthirsty. Only exceptional reasons led people to set off for such a distant corner of the globe.

Across the Tasman Sea

Some had come most of the way against their will to the Australian convict settlement of Sydney. Established in 1788, the city of Sydney had 5,000 people by 1813, and 12,000 by 1826. Many of New Zealand’s early immigrants first spent time in Australia, and most of them were only temporary visitors in search of items to trade.


Among the earliest visitors were sealers, attracted by the promise of high-quality oil, and fur for hats (often sold in China in return for tea). Arguably, some sealers who set up camp in Dusky Sound in November 1792 and stayed for 11 months were the first non-Māori group to ‘live’ in New Zealand. Other people followed before the sealers moved to Australia’s Bass Strait in 1797, then from 1805 back to Foveaux Strait and the subantarctic islands. Most were temporary visitors, but a few married Māori women and fathered children. One was the first-known sealer and settler Thomas Fink, who was living near Bluff in 1805.

The tattooed European

Sixteen-year-old James Caddellwas a sealer when he landed with sailors on Stewart Island in 1810. They were attacked by Māori, and all were killed except for Caddell. He married the chief’s daughter, Tokitoki, had his face tattooed, became a local chief and, when Europeans encountered him in 1823, remembered so little of his mother tongue that it was difficult for him to act as interpreter.

By the early 1820s perhaps 100 sealers and deserters from ships were living semi-permanently in European–Māori communities on the coasts of southern New Zealand. Many were ex-convicts of English orIrish background, but there were also a few Americans (at least one of whom was black), andIndians (known as Lascars and Sepoys), who had arrived with the East India Company trading ships. As seal numbers were depleted and international prices declined, sealers supplemented their living by trading in flax, timber, pigs and potatoes, all bought from Māori.


As early as 1792, whalers came to the northern end of the country, also as temporary visitors. Whales provided oil, bone for corsets and ambergris, a waxy substance used as an aphrodisiac and a base for perfume. The whalers’ prey, sperm whales, were caught at sea. But before long the whalers would harbour in the Bay of Islands to replenish supplies and relax. Among them were many English and Americans, a fewScots and Irish, and the occasional Scandinavian, Spanish and Chinese. Māori tradition says that a few of these whalers – they were all male – left their whaling boats and set up on shore to trade from 1809.


The first women settlers, who landed in 1806, were the notorious mutineer and ex-convict Charlotte Badger and her fellow rebel Catherine Hagerty. Some seamen or ex-convicts lived with or close to Māori, learning their language, often fathering children with Māori women, and acting as go-betweens for traders, and interpreters. They were known as Pākehā–Māori.

The first settler?

Who was the first European to settle in New Zealand? We can never know for certain, but it may have been James Cavanagh, a convict sailor, who fled from the New South Wales government vessel, Lady Nelson, into the bush in the Bay of Islands in 1804.


The first mission station was set up by a Yorkshireman,Samuel Marsden. A chaplain and magistrate, he arrived under the auspices of the Anglican Church Missionary Society at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands in 1814. By 1823 there were three stations in the area. The Wesleyan Missionary Society had also established a station at Whangaroa. Superficially, the missionarieswere very different from other settlers. Outwardly committed to the moral life, they formed self-sufficient communities, with European wives and children. Yet like the other settlers, they were isolated, and some were more accepting of Māori ways than they cared to acknowledge.

When the missionary Henry Williams arrived from England in 1823, not a single Māori had been converted to Christianity, and the community was divided. Four years later there were still only 20 adults and 40 children in the three Church Missionary Society stations of Rangihoua, Kerikeri and Paihia.

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Mai i Hawaiki ki Hawaiki: The Evolution of Maori Culture in Aotearoa New Zealand…

Tama-te-kapua, ancestor of Te Arawa, depicted ...

Tama-te-kapua, ancestor of Te Arawa, depicted in a carving at Tamatekapua meeting house in Ohinemutu, Rotorua, circa 1880. Tama-te-kapua is holding the stilts he used when he stole breadfruit from a tree belonging to Uenuku in the mythical homeland, Hawaiki. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mai i Hawaiki ki Hawaiki: The Evolution of Maori Culture in

Aotearoa New Zealand…

A long essay.
by Te Putatara

Follow @Putatara on Twitter
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Stated very simply culture is the narrative or story that explains where we came from, or where we think we came from, who we are, what we believe and how we live.

Daniel Quinn, author of a series of novels about culture and worldviews, describes a culture as “a people enacting a story”. A story is “a scenario interrelating man, the world, and the gods”, and to enact a story is “to live so as to make the story a reality”. The story usually describes the act of creation and builds a model of the universe and the world according to the particular culture (1992, “Ishmael, An adventure of the mind and spirit”, Bantam, New York).

A worldview and the culture it produces is based on a set of continuously reinforced ideas; the story. The ideas are not immutable laws of nature but human constructs that shape the way humans live within their culture.

The story might persist over long periods of time but it does evolve, sometimes slowly and sometimes rapidly. Cultural evolution involves three central processes; adaptation, remembering and forgetting.

Cultures adapt and change over time in response to climatic change, migration and settlement in new environments, interaction with other groups or cultures, changes in the availability and types of resources especially food, technological, artistic and religious innovation, and many other factors. Culture has undergone great change throughout the history of Homo sapiens, modern human. It is important to note that all cultures continue to adapt and change over time and that none is fixed or static. What is more important though is the rate of adaptation and change.

As I depict below cultural adaptation was relatively glacial for most of the first 50,000 years of the history of humankind out of Africa. It was so slow that change was probably largely unnoticed, until the advent of the agricultural revolution about 12,000 years ago. The agricultural revolution brought with it new ways of living and being after countless millennia of hunting and gathering. It brought with it new gods and new religions. That revolution was followed by the scientific revolution of the 14th century through to the 18th century, the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, and the technological revolution of our time.

The agricultural and scientific revolutions did not reach into the lives of the ancestors of the Polynesians though, in their journey out of what is now called Asia into and across the Pacific. Perhaps the major changes in the lives of the Polynesians were as a result of sea going wanderlust, voyaging, exploration, migration and settlement as they peopled the Pacific. Whilst the Polynesians did travel huge distances the culture probably traveled with them from island to island without undergoing radical or even significant change.

The migration from Eastern Polynesia to Aotearoa New Zealand certainly brought about much cultural adaptation as that new homeland demanded radically different ways of living, and as those in the new land became isolated from the mother culture. Despite that much of the Polynesian culture was retained and over time was adapted to the new environment. But the major and most dramatic adaptation and change occurred after the arrival of the Europeans. They brought the agricultural, scientific and industrial revolutions with them, as well as their religion and worldview. We met them head on and rapidly adapted.

Whether the adaptation is slow or rapid the culture is passed on from generation to generation to generation. I have called this transmission of the cultural story the remembering.

The remembering is spoken from mother to child and from grandmother to grandchild. The story is told by teacher to student, by writer, poet, journalist and cartoonist, by actor, songwriter, singer, musician, performer and film maker, and by painter and sculptor. It is passed by sporting coach to player, priest to congregation, and by political and corporate public relations and advertising propagandists to a gullible public. We say that no one believes politicians any more yet their insidious messages infect the minds of hundreds of thousands and become part of the remembering. The great and powerful whether prince, priest, warrior or merchant, have always sought to implant their worldview as the dominant or only worldview.

In this modern and increasingly complex and globalised world there are many thousands of strands to the story that is now our culture. The culture has vastly expanded in content and reach and it now comprises many sub-cultures, or cultural strands within an overarching globalized culture. The progression of scientific discovery and technological innovation is having a huge effect on bringing about cultural adaptation and change faster than at any other time in history. Most of us are culturally schizophrenic, being different persons in our different situations and areas of interest; ethnicity, religion, family, career, work, politics, hobbies and so on. It wasn’t always so in ages past before the advent of printing, books, newspapers, telephone, radio, film, TV, air travel, the internet and smart phones.

It used to be that the story was told face to face, kanohi ki te kanohi, from mouth to ear, and by comparison it was a very simple story. It used to be that we all had the same skin colour and similar physical build and features, we all thought the same and we all shared the same relatively simple story. Physical, mental and spiritual conformity, or sameness, was our permanent state of being. The culture evolved ever so slowly; so slowly that change was imperceptible; unnoticeable and undetectable. Things were as they always were. Or so it seemed.

Except for the forgetting.

Consider this whakapapa of the universe, the earth, and life on earth; this big history. These figures are of course approximate and subject to change as new discoveries in archaeology and palaeontology are made, and as new DNA evidence emerges. What is important is the vastness of the timescale. To put some perspective into this whakapapa it would take you 50 years to count from one to a billion if you worked at it for 10 hours a day.

We begin with the narration of the Creation, the long unfolding.

Ko Te Kore (the void, energy, nothingness, potential)
Te Kore-te-whiwhia (the void in which nothing is possessed)
Te Kore-te-rawea (the void in which nothing is felt)
Te Kore-i-ai (the void with nothing in union)
Te Kore-te-wiwia (the space without boundaries)

Na Te Kore Te Po (from the void the night)
Te Po-nui (the great night)
Te Po-roa (the long night)
Te Po-uriuri (the deep night)
Te Po-kerekere (the intense night)
Te Po-tiwhatiwha (the dark night)
Te Po-te-kitea (the night in which nothing is seen)
Te Po-tangotango (the intensely dark night)
Te Po-whawha (the night of feeling)
Te Po-namunamu-ki-taiao (the night of seeking the passage to the world)
Te Po-tahuri-atu (the night of restless turning)
Te Po-tahuri-mai-ki-taiao (the night of turning towards the revealed world)

Ki te Whai-ao (to the glimmer of dawn)
Ki te Ao-marama (to the bright light of day)
Tihei mauri-ora (there is life)

And on into the scientific narration.

  • 13.8 billion years ago Universe birthed itself. For more than 1/2 of the universe’s history there was no Earth;
  • 6 billion years ago the Earth was born;
  • 3 billion years ago life on Earth began;
  • 6 million years ago the African ancestors of the modern chimpanzee and the modern human diverged onto separate evolutionary lines from their common ancestor;
  • 4.5 million years ago the first human like species appeared (Australopithecus ramidus) followed by Australopithecus anamensis about 4.2 million years ago;
  • 3.5 million years ago both of those species were replaced by Australopithecus afarensis;
  • 2.5 million years ago Australopithecus africanus appeared;
  • 2 million years ago Homo habilus appeared, the first members of the Homo lineage. Homo habilus carried tools and stone artifacts. Human ancestors became meat eaters;
  • 1.8 million years ago Homo erectus or Homo ergaster appeared and the first exodus of humans out of Africa occurred. Homo erectus appeared in East Africa, Middle East, China and Java. They existed for about 1.5 million years before becoming extinct;
  • 900,000 years ago the early species of human, Homo erectus or Homo ergaster developed into the Archaic Homo sapiens species. Archaic Homo sapiens are the ancestors of Modern Homo sapiens. We are modern Homo sapiens. The Archaic ancestors existed for about 800,000 years and persisted alongside modern humans until about 100,000 years ago;
  • 420,000 to 840,000 years ago, the second human migration out of Africa (to Asia). All now extinct;
  • 80,000 to 150,000 years ago there was a third major exodus out of Africa of species of Homo that also became extinct. It included Neanderthal Man (Homo neanderthalensis) in Europe, and Denisova Man (Homo denisova) in Asia. They persisted alongside modern humans for a short time before becoming extinct. Modern Europeans and others retain a small amount of genetic inheritance from Neanderthal Man, and modern Asians and Polynesians retain a small amount from Denisova Man, indicating a limited amount of interbreeding between the species;
  • 50,000 to 75,000 years ago there was a dispersal of modern humans out of Africa. The people of this small migratory group are the ancestors of all of humankind now living outside of Africa. Their siblings and cousins who remained in Africa are the ancestors of indigenous Africans. All of us on earth are cousins, descended from these people. Everyone else disappeared – became extinct;
  • 45,000 to 60,000 years ago modern humans arrived in Australia. They reached Asia on their way to Australia 24,000 years before any other humans (including the ancestors of the Polynesians). DNA research confirms that the Australian Aboriginal culture is probably the oldest continuous living culture on Earth;
  • 35,000 to 40,000 years ago modern humans arrived in Europe;
  • 12,000 years ago modern humans were well established in North America;
  • 11,000 years ago they were well established in Central and South America;
  • 12,000 years ago saw the start of the period of agricultural revolution in the Middle East, Asia and South America. This was a major cultural, social and economic adaptation. Over time humankind in the Middle East and Europe genetically adapted to eating wheat and other grains. This genetic adaptation did not occur in the ancestors of the Polynesians;
  • 10,000 years ago in a weird genetic mutation blue eyes appeared somewhere near the Black Sea, and today there are about 300 million blue-eyed people, and many fake-eyes wearing blue tinted contact lenses (2011, Steve Gullens and Juan Enriquez, “Homo Evolutis”, Ted Books);
  • 8,000 years ago some populations in Northern Europe, notably in present day Denmark, genetically adapted to consuming milk beyond the age of weaning. This adaptation did not occur in the ancestors of the Polynesians;
  • 5,000 years ago the female ancestors of modern Polynesians moved out of mainland Asia towards South East Asia and eventually into the Pacific (the male ancestors travelled by a different route and many of them originated in the Melanesian population of a much earlier migration);
  • 3000 years ago the ancestors arrived in Western Polynesia;
  • 2500 years ago they arrived in Eastern Polynesia;
  • 1000 to 3000 years ago saw the development over that 2000 year period of a distinctive Polynesian culture. of which Maori is a sub-culture;
  • About 800 to 900 years ago the ancestors (much later identified by their tribal names and much later still as Maori) arrived in Aotearoa and occupied the land for about 400 or 500 years before the arrival of the first European, a very short period of time in the great sweep of human history;
  • 1642 (371 years ago) Abel Tasman arrived, new faces;
  • 1769 (244 years ago) James Cook arrived, new technologies and knowledge;
  • 1814 (199 years ago) On Christmas Day Samuel Marsden preached the first Christian service, bringing a totally new worldview to Aotearoa New Zealand;
  • 1840 (173 years ago) Treaty of Waitangi;
  • 1975 (38 years ago) Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal Act enacted.
  • 1993 (10 years ago) Homo smartphone appears.

How much of that journey do we remember as part of our own story, our culture? Some of you weren’t even around when the 1975 Act was passed into law, some 3 billion years after life on earth began.

One comparison I draw from that whakapapa is absolutely humbling. In the Western Desert of Australia or in Arnhem Land an aboriginal person today can stand in an ancient dwelling place or ceremonial site, sometimes embellished with rock paintings tens of thousands of years old, knowing that her ancestors had lived there for 1500 generations, perhaps as many as 2000 generations. When I made my pilgrimage to Marae Taputapuatea on Ra’iatea I was standing where perhaps 50 to 60 generations of the ancestors stood. When I stand at any of the ancient sites of my many hapu in Aotearoa I stand in the footprints of a mere 20 to 30 generations of the ancestors.

Vast is the forgetting compared to the remembering.

We consign that vastness of forgetting to our creation stories, our mythology, our religious beliefs and our legends; metaphors for all that we have forgotten. Those stories represent the vast forgetting that until the discoveries of science we didn’t even know we’d forgotten. We nominate Hawaiki to be the ancient homeland or homelands, and having long forgotten its location it becomes a spiritual homeland rather than an actual place, a metaphor for a forgotten place of beginning.

Roughly two hundred years ago, after contact and collision with representatives of the other world of the colonists and settlers, and with the missionaries, our cultural evolution went dramatically into overdrive. In two hundred years we have transformed ourselves and have been transformed from a disparate loosely connected collection of hunter gathering, partly horticultural, mainly autonomous hapu. We have become just a tiny part of a global agricultural, scientific, industrial, commercial, technological, material, and economically and digitally connected super culture.

For about 50,000 years after coming out of Africa the rate of change was so slow that change went unnoticed and almost all that went before was forgotten.

The last 200 years have by comparison been as a cultural tsunami of towering height. The future has come upon us as a giant unstoppable wave. It swamped the present and washed away much of the past. It sweeps us onwards into an unknowable future whereas once the future came upon us so slowly that it didn’t exist beyond the knowable tomorrow and the eternal parade of seasons. We used to say in another time that we walked backwards into the future with our eyes and minds firmly on the past, or that small part of it that we remembered.

From the time before the tsunami we remember our whakapapa, tikanga, kawa, pepeha, aoteatea and moteatea. Perhaps the most scholarly exposition of tikanga is by Professor Hirini Moko Mead (2003, “Tikanga Maori, Living by Maori Values”, Huia Publishers, Wellington). We remember also our language, Te Reo Maori, which is part of the larger family of Polynesian languages, which is itself part of the much larger Malayo-Polynesian group of languages. When the language was in danger of becoming part of the forgetting we devised ways to revive the language, for the time being at least, lest it too be washed over the abyss and into the void of the Great Forgetting.

Our understanding of that which we remember has also been transformed under the influence of Christianity, modernity and nostalgia, in ways that we rarely if ever appreciate and acknowledge. The further we ride the wave from the cultural beliefs and ways of two hundred years ago the greater the transformation in our understanding. None of us has a living parent or grandparent from the time before the tsunami to whisper the remembering as it was whispered to them. So our remembering tends to the nostalgic, a yearning for a romantic past that exists mostly in our imaginations.

That is the way of all cultures. We reshape the past to accord with our vision and explanation of the present and our dreams of the future. The collective cultural mind mimics the individual human mind, selectively remembering and conveniently forgetting.

Collectively we Maori have forgotten a great deal over the last 200 years.

We remember little of our time in Eastern Polynesia, before the migrations, and nothing before that apart from our metaphorical and mythological remembering. We can reach some way into that past through the writings of others such as Teuira Henry (1847-1915) the renowned authority on ancient Tahitian society (2004 edition, “Tahiti aux Temps Anciens”, Publications de la Societe des Oceanistes, Musee de l’Homme, Paris). Few bother. For most of us history and culture began in Aotearoa with the arrival of the migratory waka, and even that remembering has been distorted by early Pakeha pseudo scholarship into a Great Fleet and many other myths.

Having universally adopted the Christian story and practice as our own we push to the back of the mind, into the unconscious, the fact that we once had our own brand of religious story, belief, superstition and magical thinking. We retain some of the ritual from before the tsunami, often intermingled with Christian ritual, and always shorn of its deep mystical and magical foundations.

We forget that our ritual, like the ritual of many other bygone cultures across the world including that of Eastern Polynesia, involved human sacrifice. There were for instance 5000 human skulls discovered in the great stone marae of Polynesia at Taputapuatea on Ra’iatea. And that was just one of many hundreds of sacrifical marae throughout Eastern Polynesia.

We forget that we, like many other and perhaps most past and present cultures, placed a relatively low value on human life beyond our own kinship group and often within it. We forget, and become offended and agitated, when reminded that our culture condoned kaitangata (cannibalism) as both ritual and food. We brush it off and remember only that it was for ritual purposes rather than food. Recorded history says otherwise, not just for Maori culture, but for all or most cultures on earth. Infanticide, especially female infanticide, as a form of gender selection and population control is an absolutely verboten subject despite it being a worldwide practice in times past, and even in the present.

It has been said as part of the forgetting that inter-tribal warfare was an intermittent and minor activity something like a weekend rugby match. The evidence says otherwise and our own oral histories record the widespread killing and enslavement of men, women and children as a result of frequent warfare. The threat of warfare was a constant, evidenced by the construction of numerous fortified pa strongholds throughout all tribal areas.

We selectively remember that we are all descended from chiefs, and forget that Maori society was structured into social classes with ariki and rangatira at the top, supported by tohunga and the knowledge they employed in the service of chiefs. Below them and their immediate families we were tutua or commoners. Beneath them were pononga or taurekareka (slaves). Slavery was once the primary form of energy in all cultures, including our own. Such was the ubiquity of slavery that the philosopher A.C.Grayling writes that everyone on earth is probably the descendant of both slaves and slave owners (2009, “Ideas that Matter”, Orion Books, London). None of us in this modern post tsunami age willingly admit to being the issue of commoners or slaves. We prefer to cloak our commoner nakedness in the korowai of chieftainship.

We fondly believe that ours was an egalitarian society. We vehemently deny that women were often chattels. The widespread practice of gifting daughters as wives to other chiefs for political and economic reasons is transformed into make believe romantic love and matchmaking. They were enforced strategic marriages with women as the currency of diplomacy and trade. We fondly believe that children were always treasured and forget the infanticide. We believe that decision making was a consultative and consensual process and forget that many chiefs ruled by decree and that mind washing was a high art form as it is to this day.

We forget that we did not think for ourselves and were not permitted to think for ourselves, our minds moulded into a group mind by chiefs and tohunga, and their oratory, their stories and their rituals. In Eastern Polynesia the Arioi class functioned not only as priests and entertainers, but also as thought police and enforcers.

Mind control was the universal way of being in all structured societies and is still. In some places in the world today religion is still used to control the minds of whole populations, holding back the tide of progress that results from liberated minds. In recent history the world has witnessed the wholesale slaughter of the educated in some countries (i.e. in Stalin’s Russia and in Pol Pot’s Cambodia) to remove the threat of thinking. Mao banished China’s thinkers to the countryside. Modern society has developed public relations, advertising, and other forms of propaganda to achieve the same purpose.

Most Maori imagine that before the tsunami we were free thinking individuals in an egalitarian society, whereas thinking autonomously was actually the private domain only of rangatira and tohunga, including those who studied in the wananga. Attendance at that curriculum was strictly limited, for knowledge in the hands of the masses was and is a dangerous thing.

We also forget that life was short, often harsh, and sometimes brutal. And we forget much more besides.

Convenient is the great forgetting.

There is no good reason to reshape the past and to deny the reality of the pre-tsunami age. We do it to counter the widespread racism that feeds upon the negative aspects of our past judged by today’s values, and some do it out of unwarranted shame. But we shared those distant beliefs and practices with all cultures on earth at some time in their own evolution, despite their own selective remembering and convenient forgetting. Despite also the ingrained belief of our cultural partners here in Aotearoa New Zealand that theirs was a pristine culture of great goodness compared to ours. The efficacy of that Pakeha belief rests on forgetting much and remembering little. For instance, they forget that they finally abandoned human slavery at about the same time as we did.

What is the lesson we draw from this remembering and forgetting, viewed within the perspective of the vast sweep of human history. Human culture at any point in its evolution is but a fleeting moment of remembering before the great forgetting. It is a transient understanding of who we are, it is what we believe and how we live now. It is not fixed in time and does not foretell who or what we might become. Even with the enormous cultural impact of the modern institutions of memory including books, film, sound recording, libraries, museums, archives, digital storage and the World Wide Web we are still much inclined to selectively remember and conveniently forget. We are still much inclined to imagine the past as we would like it to have been. And we imagine a future just like the present, ignoring the reality that the future is an unknown foreign land on the great migratory journey of humankind through time and space.

And in a thousand years’ time what will we have remembered and what will be forgotten. Such is the speed of cultural evolution today that we cannot imagine what will be in a thousand years. What then in 200 years time, just 400 years on from the tsunami.

Our absorption into the rapidly evolving global super culture is going to increase exponentially with global connectedness and as the global economy develops. Transnational corporations are driving towards a single global market; a single global market controlled by the corporations themselves beyond the control of nations and their governments. It is already happening with the transnationals now operating outside and around national taxation regimes. The continuing impact of scientific and technological advance is going to be enormously life changing. Those advances are in computer science, nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, neuroscience, the genetic sciences and many others. Consider the mind-blowing possibility of human directed biological and cultural evolution as a result of research in the genetic sciences alone. Or cringe at the mere thought of it.

Apart from that impossible to imagine future the near term future is much easier to prophesy with some degree of certainty. We have three of the four most populous countries in the world to our northwest in China, India and Indonesia. They are all going to be global super powers and they are going to profoundly influence who we are and how we live for centuries to come. At some time in the coming Asian millennium we might all become Asian, or whatever evolves from the Asian cultures. They could simply absorb us and the remnants of our culture. We know from Statistics NZ projections that Asians will comprise about 14% of the population by 2026, just twelve years from now. Maori will be just ahead on about 14.6% of the population.

One thing is for sure. In a thousand years, or five thousand years, or even 200 years, we will have forgotten much and remembered little. And our strand of a new global culture will have evolved into a form we might no longer recognize as Maori. And that has been the way of things, mai rano.

* Download: Rethinking Polynesian Origins – Human Settlement of the Pacific by Michal Denny & Lisa Matisoo-Smith
reflections on running – a journey through mythological time

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  1. Interesting article. Would have to agree with what I have read, though will read more in depth later.

  2. Wi Taepa

    Great pc of the written word



  4. Des Jhonheke

    Incredible and humbling read. Many thanks to the author for collating this knowledge.

  5. Cath

    Thanks Ross for your anaysis and commentary. It is very much appreciated.

  6. Jacob Scott

    People in the context of a moment in a world of change need to understand this – very well said – mauri ora

  7. Thanks for this Ross.

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High rate of leukemia for kiwi Vietnam war veterans…

A UH-1D helicopter from the 336th Aviation Company sprays a defoliation agent on a dense jungle area in the Mekong delta. File photo


New Zealand Vietnam war veterans, some of whom were exposed to Agent Orange defoliant, have double the rate of chronic lymphatic leukaemia compared to the general population, an Otago University study has found.

The study, by the university’s Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, looked at the medical records of many of the nearly 3400 New Zealanders who served in Vietnam from 1962 to 1971.

The cohort study, which looked at the records of 2752 men between 1988 to 2008, is the first to look at New Zealand Vietnam veterans to assess the long-term health effects of serving in a combat zone.

The researchers found while 407 veterans died over the study period, the overall death rate from all causes was 15 per cent lower than the general population.

They also found mortality from cancer was not significantly lower or higher however than the general population.

However, lead author Dr David McBride said the study showed a doubling of the risk of mortality from cancers of the head and neck, as well as an increase in oral cancers of the pharynx and larynx.

“Lung cancer contributed the greatest burden of deaths in both New Zealand and Australian veterans,” he said.

The study noted veterans deployed in the Nui Dat area of Phuoc Tuy province experienced a toxic environment because of the widespread use Agent Orange, which contained the carcinogen dioxin. However, the study did not have specific data on herbicide exposure of individual soldiers.

Dr McBride said the findings were not at odds with evidence needed for compensation from Veterans Affairs New Zealand for ill-health caused by service in the Vietnam War.

He said the pattern of lower overall mortality was known as the ‘healthy soldier effect’ which was related to the fact the soldiers would have been selected for health and fitness.

Further work was still needed, including the selection of a non-deployed comparison group to reduce the `healthy soldier effect’.

The study, funded by the War Pensions Medical Research Trust Fund, is due to appear shortly in the international journal BMJ Open.


Acknowledgements:   John Cousins      Cancer study backs veterans’ fears:

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