A review of Tina Ngata’s Kia Mau: Resisting Colonial Fictions

By Serah Allison

Tina Ngata of Ngāti Porou has recently published Kia Mau: Resisting Colonial Fictions. At the launch of this book on 28th November 2019, Tina Ngata described how she had started with a blog called The Non-plastic Māori, exploring “the experience of living for a year without purchasing any new plastics”, which quickly developed to explore wider environmental issues and then progressed to a critique colonialism as the mindset of subjugation, disconnectedness, and exploitation. Kia Mau is born from that critique.

The New Zealand Government, through the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, has been celebrating through 2019/2020 an event called Tuia 250, dedicated to the “encounter” between Captain James Cook and Māori. With encouragement from activist Valerie Morse, Tina Ngata collected together nine of her essays on colonialism, with a focus on the modern Tuia 250 event and the historic arrival of Cook. Tina Ngata works to dispel the myths of Cook’s voyage being one of scientific exploration, and reveals that Cook was driven by a mindset known as the Doctrine of Discovery which held that non Christian indigenous people such as Māori could be conquered, enslaved, and used for the profit of Christian empires such as that of England. Cook was on a military mission to expand the British Empire, and commanded the naval vessel Endeavour for that purpose. The chapter Cook’s crime spree in Aotearoa is a two page timeline and map depicting a roughly three month period during which Cook killed, wounded, kidnapped, and tortured Māori. And all this was only the celebrated “first encounter”.

Tina Ngata goes on to draw parallels with the struggles of other indigenous peoples, call out the environmental consequences of the colonial mindset, and in the final essay Wetewetehia 250 she describes educational guidelines to address misinterpretations and correct colonial mistruths. In Tina Ngata’s own words, this work discusses: “how we might envision a more ethical remembering of who we are and what is important in order to set a pathway for who we want to be in the future.”

As a Pākehā who has learned what Tina Ngata describes as colonial fictions, I found this book at once thought-provoking, enlightening, sobering, and motivating. Tina Ngata has produced an important work that deserves attention.

Kia Mau: Resisting Colonial Fictions is published by Rebel Press, and is available from Unity Books, Wellington.

War Profiteers Not Welcome Here

Photo Credit: Cathy Casey

Photo Credit: Cathy Casey

“This is not a weapons trading event, this is normal everyday New Zealand businesses that supply goods and services to support the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Defence” is what a representative said of yesterday’s Weapons Conference in Auckland’s Viaducts Event Centre, which was sponsored by none other than the world’s largest weapon’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

This quote’s description of the conference as “normal everyday New Zealand businesses” is reminiscent of the phrase “there’s nothing to see here”; which always means that there is something to see. “Normal everyday” is a strange combination of words, one that might be used by someone caught doing something wrong. “No, don’t worry, this is just a normal everyday grenade I always carry around.” Putting the words “normal” and “everyday” in front of a concept doesn’t remove the violence it represents. [Read more…]

Nationalist poison no medicine against the TPPA

TPPA 1by Dougal McNeill

There are plenty of good reasons to oppose the TPPA. It’s part of U.S. imperialism’s strategy against China in the Asia-Pacific, working in the economic sphere as the ‘tilt to Asia’ does in the military. It gives greater powers to capitalists, and will be used to water down labour rights and environmental protections. It threatens public health provisions.

These threats are international, and face workers in all the countries that are set to sign up. So our opposition needs to be international, and internationalist. Pala Molisa’s excellent speech at the end of today’s rally in Wellington stressed just this kind of connection.

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A Short History of New Zealand Imperialism

Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III and other Mau leaders and activists - heroes in the struggle for a free Samoa

Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III and other Mau leaders and activists – heroes in the struggle for a free Samoa

By Daniel Simpson Beck

From New Zealand’s earliest attempts at increasing its territories in the Pacific right through to today’s economic imperialism, the local capitalist ruling class has had imperial ambitions. It was New Zealand’s local leaders – the Governors, the Premiers, the Prime Ministers – who were calling for a New Zealand Empire in the Pacific. Likewise we shall see that New Zealand makes its own imperialist manoeuvres today. It is not the dominant empires that pressure New Zealand into such moves. The New Zealand ruling class are neither a lapdog to the US now, nor were they to Britain 175 years ago.

 

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No New Zealand Troops to Iraq!

US troops MosulCory Anderson gave this talk to the Auckland branch of the International Socialists.

April marked 100 years since New Zealand troops landed in Turkey with the purpose of opening up yet another front in the bloodiest war that history ’till then had seen. It’s something of an irony then, that at the very same time as John Key and Tony Abbott are laying wreaths at the memorials, while wiping away a hard-squeezed tear and murmuring “never again,” they are sending troops back to the very region of the world invaded by their predecessors 100 years ago. Now, as then, it falls to socialists to oppose the war. [Read more…]

Dairy Millionaires and the “Monster that hit Vanuatu”

 

Dairy has been the fastest growing sector of the NZ economy in the last 20 years, making millions for a handful of farmers but also methane – a climate change gas. Vanuatu has just been smashed by Cyclone Pam. These things are connected.

Vanuatu president Baldwin Lonsdale has described Cyclone Pam as “the monster that has hit Vanuatu”, and has said the worsening cyclone seasons that hit the island nation are directly related to climate change. “We see the level of sea rise … The cyclone seasons, the warm, the rain, all this is affected ,” he said. “This year we have more than in any year … Yes, climate change is contributing to this.”

[Read more…]

Iraq: the Price of the Club

B-z6ImIVEAAJkbf‘I pay in blood, but not my own’, runs a recent Bob Dylan lyric. It could well be the theme song to National’s foreign policy. From the smiling mediocrity boasting about the ‘price of the club’ and the benefits of spying alliances to the shouty, ranting mediocrity bellowing about evil and infidels in the House last week, Key’s various, and variously incoherent, postures convey one consistent theme: it’s the blood of the Iraqi people that will pay the ‘price of the club’ for New Zealand’s ongoing alliance with US imperialism.  It’s war once again.

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World War One: the Fight against Conscription

Maoriland WorkerAmidst all the patriotic furor this centenary, the real history of the war is all too easily forgotten.  The government and the opposition alike cry crocodile tears for the fallen and mouth “Never again!”, while daisy cutters are dropped on Afghanistan and the history books are (re)re-written.

In high-school classrooms and history-books, we are taught a version of the war in which a well-fed, well-bred (and mostly white) nation proudly sacrifices its sons for the lofty ideals of “God, King and Country”.  The little mention made of wartime dissent is limited to a few footnotes about ‘conscientious objectors’ who are presented as a tiny minority of isolated idealists, and perhaps a few comments on the rising cost of living.

This version of history was written by the ruling class, for the working class, to create a placid and pliant society that allows the prosecution of future wars.  The real history of the war is somewhat different.  In New Zealand, there was a great movement against the continued prosecution of the war, and for peace.  It wasn’t a minority, and it wasn’t isolated.  Hundreds were jailed, and thousands condemned the war in public meetings, in their workplaces, and on the streets.  This article tells just part of that story, the fight against conscription. [Read more…]

Anzac Day: Against the Carnival of Reaction

mobiliseagainstthewarOn Anzac Day 1967, at the height of New Zealand involvement in the ‘American War’ in Vietnam, with New Zealand troops taking part in the suppression of the Vietnamese struggle for national liberation, members of the Progressive Youth Movement in Christchurch tried to lay a wreath following the dawn service in memory of those killed by imperialism in Vietnam. They were arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour. Feminists a decade later faced down a media-driven public outcry when they laid wreaths to the victims of sexual violence during war.

Lest we forget? It’s more like lest we remember. Anzac Day serves as a carnival of nationalist reaction, a day of public ritual aimed at promoting forgetting: forgetting the real legacy of New Zealand imperialism and militarism in favour of a sentimental nationalism, an anti-political celebration of national unity. [Read more…]

New Zealand Imperialism in the Pacific

Soldier_editSixty years ago, on the 17th of August 1953, Hector Larsen, the resident commissioner of Niue, was murdered. Larsen’s rule over the people of Niue – he had been commissioner for a decade at his death – was “by most accounts,” as a Radio New Zealand documentary from 2009 puts it, “not just paternalistic but brutal.” The radical historian Dick Scott wrote a book about the incident – Would a Good Man Die?– and depicts Larsen’s death as a symbol of New Zealand-Niuean relations. The three young Niueans responsible for Larsen’s death felt “they were ridding their land of a tyrant.”

This might seem like old history, a misunderstanding from a past era. But the involvement of New Zealand imperialism, alongside Australia, in meddling with, dominating, and interfering with the peoples of the Pacific continues. [Read more…]