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Dr John Robinson

A Broken Nation – complete tribal disunity

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We live in a strange world, not the one I was born into in 1940, the year of the hundredth anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi.  This is not the same country; there is no feeling of national purpose and unity, of a fair go, or of working together with and for one another in a friendly community.  Young people are alienated; they, like the country, lack a moral compass.

The foundations of New Zealand were laid down by those British who had just put an end to slavery.  They would never have written, or agreed with, a Treaty that divided the country into two unequal races, having asserted the very opposite, that all New Zealanders were equal British subjects.  This was a precious legacy for the new nation, to be safeguarded and never taken for granted.

“The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” 
John Philpot Curran 1750-1817, Irish judge

New Zealand has paid the price of ignorance and inactivity, allowing a determined minority to build a tribal, ‘indigenous’, race-based division which destroys the claim to equality and liberty of all others.

At last, in 2023, two of the political parties (ACT and New Zealand First) in the newly-elected tripartite Government moved to reassert three basic principles: that this is a sovereign country with one government, that we are all equal, that ownership of land is assured.  Those Principles are universal and hardly controversial – and certainly were held by the British founders of New Zealand.  But none hold now in New Zealand.  

In fact, New Zealand is a racist country, with belief in race and classification by race (“A Maori is a member of the Maori race”).  There is separation in government (with race-based Maori seats and a race-based Maori Party), special rights by race in law (the Supreme Court gave sovereignty to Maori tribes, with a special place for Maori ideology: “Tikanga Maori [to be defined by the Maori party] will be functioning and applicable across Aotearoa under Maori [national, iwi, hapu, whanau] authority”), and in many organisations (the Waitangi Tribunal deals only with possible breeches of the Treaty by the Crown against Maori).

This proposal to respect these three principles, ideals that are widely accepted across the world, was followed by a loud and angry outcry, with many inflammatory calls to resist this ‘pakeha’ government (equality being now ‘anti-Maori and racist’) from Maori spokesmen.  The call for separation and special rights to Maori, coupled with a denial of equality, has become widespread, a national ideology.

That belief in racial division is based on a belief in wrongs committed against Maori by the Crown – no other wrong from the past is admitted.  Based on that false belief, Maori are angry, demanding recompense; non-Maori must feel guilt.  New Zealanders are not one people, but divided into indigenous people and the others – second-rate citizens who must pay for fake claims of past wrong-doing by their ancestors.

Constant repetition insists on the validity of this Big Lie.  But we can, like the young boy who saw that the Emperor had no clothes, open our eyes and ask the basic question: Who really broke the Treaty? 

The answer must depend on reference to the original Treaty and a careful consideration of what in involved in a breach of the Treaty.  Based on detailed instructions from the British Government, and after several days of debate, the final copy of the Treaty of Waitangi was decided upon, and written down by James Busby, on February 4, 1840.  This was translated into Maori by Reverend Henry Williams and his son, Edward, before being handed back to the Governor, Captain William Hobson.  This initial text was missing for some years before it was found in 1989; it is often referred to as the “Littlewood Treaty”. 

It is the same as many back-translation from the Maori in the years following 1840, and is in accord with the Maori understanding of the Treaty as was made clear in the words of the chiefs during many meetings and, most significantly, with the forthright discussion in 1922 by the great Maori leader and statesman, Apirana Ngata, a prominent scholar, Government Minister and champion for Maori culture, in his booklet, “The Treaty of Waitangi, an explanation”, which was written in Maori, for Maori, and then translated into English.

No standing should be given to the many, and often conflicting, versions and interpretations built up during the last 49 years as an alternative Treaty is put forward to destroy the true intention by contradicting the initial call by Hobson to the chiefs: “Now we are one people.” 

There are three Articles in the Treaty: sovereignty is ceded to Britain; the possession of their lands, dwellings and all their property is guaranteed to the chiefs and tribes and to all the people of New Zealand; and the rights and privileges of British subjects are granted to all the people of New Zealand.

Both of the two signatory parties, the Crown and the Maori chiefs, have the responsibility to deal fairly one another, and with the third party involved in the new nation – all other New Zealanders.  Each accepted the duty to honour the Treaty.  It should not be forgotten that, having signed or accepted the Treaty, Maori chiefs had agreed to the equality of all New Zealanders as British subjects, and were themselves committed to that accord.  All authorities and peoples are called upon to behave well, and all must be called to account for any breach.

What would it be to break that Treaty?  This must be made clear – the Treaty gave the right to govern, and British law prevailed thereafter.  Should the new authority make a judgement, and reach a decision, that someone did not like – or which some now disagree with – was not to break the Treaty, which simply gave the right to govern, without any promise of perfect adherence to any one point of view.  The Treaty involved simply setting up a system and a structure by which decisions and judgements would be made by the proper authorities – no longer by chiefly might and tribal warfare.

With a clear understanding of the Treaty, of what it is to break that agreement, and that it applies equally to all parties involved, the answer to the question of who really broke the Treaty can be understood by examining key events in New Zealand history.  I considered seven such examples in my 2024 book, “Who really broke the Treaty?”.  I have not been guided by racial separation, contrary to the Waitangi Tribunal which was instructed to deal only with possible breeches of the Treaty by the Crown against Maori – all actions contrary to the agreement of the Treaty were considered.

The answer is clear.  The Crown, the several Governors, and the government never broke the Treaty of Waitangi.  All actions taken were in accord with the accession of sovereignty and the assertion of British law.  A number of Maori chiefs, and their iwi, committed acts of treason and rebellion, in contradiction of the Treaty of Waitangi.

All Treaty settlements are based on the Crown having broken the Treaty.  Since that is not so, all such settlements are a fraud.  There is no justification for the continued existence of either settlements or the Waitangi Tribunal.

Although most Maori joined in a change of culture in the years surrounding 1840, welcoming the peace and security resulting from colonisation, some chiefs refused to accept the loss of their power, wished to hold on to their mana and to continue as supreme tribal authorities, to reverse the unity of the Treaty.

There was the Waikato minority king movement set up in 1858, continuing today.  In 1894 the Member of Parliament for Northern Maori, Hone Heke Ngapua introduced a “Native Rights Bill” in support of kotahitanga.  This called for a separate Maori Parliament: a “Constitution shall be granted to all the persons of the Maori race, and to all persons born of either father or mother of the Maori race who are or shall be resident in New Zealand, providing for the enactment of laws by a Parliament elected by such persons”.  There was no support for this in Parliament.  Here, the meaning of kotahitanga is made clear.

That insistence on a separate Maori government has built up over the decades since the formation of the Waitangi Tribunal.  The Tribunal has constructed and publicised a complete rewriting of history – the “retrospective recrimination” and “counterfactual history” of the Tribunal, quoting the words of historian Bill Oliver.  This fundamental reversal of the message and meaning of the Treaty has been aided by a captive media and the crippling of free speech.  With their meddling they have destroyed the mana of the Treaty, replacing clarity with the confused and divisive “Tiriti”.

The ultimate aim was never stated clearly; the campaign has been carried out with stealth, an intentional lack of clarity.  This was until 2021 when the 2019 He Puapua report to Government (based on a report to the Iwi Chairs Forum, Matike Mai) became known to the public.  The “Vision 2040” described there sets out the intention of two separate, racially defined, government structures; New Zealand is broken apart, with no pretence of inclusivity or equality.  One separated “Rangatiratanga” sphere reflects Maori governance over people and places, where Maori have complete control and autonomy.  Another “Kawangatanga” sphere (what is left of democracy) represents Crown governance – meaning, of course, the elected government, the place for all New Zealanders, including Maori.  There is also a “joint sphere” where Maori and the Crown share governance over issues of mutual concern; that is the two parties in this divided nation, this proposed apartheid system, meet to negotiate, with an effective Maori veto.  There will be a dominant position for the pre-contact ways, as “Tikanga Maori will be functioning and applicable across Aotearoa under Maori (national, iwi, hapu, whanau) authority.”

Two peoples will be regarding one another across a wide divide in a country under effective control of one race – “Maori will be exercising authority over Maori matters as agreed by Maori, and including inclusive and/or shared jurisdiction over their lands, territories and resources and over matters to do with taonga tuku iho and culture”, a definition that has no limits.

The ideology of apartheid has evolved over some decades and is now supported by many organisations and authorities, in a veritable Treaty Industry.  There is a list of 17 in my book, “Who really broke the Treaty”; to this should be added another, the National Maori Congress (a kotahitanga movement made up of 45 participating tribes and bodies, founded in 1990 at the Turangawaewae marae, headquarters for the king movement).

They are all guilty of committing treason by violating the sovereignty of the state and overthrowing the principles of the nation.  In particular, the Supreme Court and the Waitangi Tribunal have been committing treason against the people of New Zealand.

Yet the assertion of apartheid with the formation of two parliaments is not the end goal, which is the complete fracture of society with sovereignty to iwi and hapu, the many tribes scattered across the country, following the rules of tikanga with the end of democracy and the rule of chiefs (rangatiratanga).  The country is asked to turn away from equality and democracy to tribalism in a return to the ways of the past.

What that means is evident from a view of the misery brought by the rule of tikanga – the state of the country before the Treaty of Waitangi.  The whole country was in chaos; a list of some of the key happenings in one part of the county, the west of the North Island, in just twenty years, around 1820 to 1840, provides a taste of the insecurity of life in that failed state.

In 1819 to 1821, two great taua brought killing, cannibalism, and slavery across much of the North Island: (1) Ngapuhi were joined by Ngati Toa in a war party down the West coast to Wellington, where Tamati Waka Nene suggested to Te Rauparaha that the southern regions would provide a good land for settlement by driving out the inhabitants of the time; and (2) Waikato, with allied tribes, moved south along an inland rout before returning by the coast.  In 1821, Ngati Toa (joined by some Te Atiawa) escaped from the frequent attacks by Waikato to move to the Kapiti region, where they fought, killed, and drove out those living there.  In 1824, an attack by a coalition of tribes failed to drive Ngati Toa from Kapiti Island.  Around 1826, Raukawa, escaping attacks from Waikato and Maniapoto tribes, migrated to join Ngati Toa in Kapiti.  By 1827, attacks from the Kapiti allies were killing and driving people from Wellington, including the defeat of remaining Ngati Ira on Taputeranga, the island of Island Bay.  In 1828 and 1831, the Kapiti allies made several deadly attacks on South Island iwi, with (as always) widespread killing and cannibalism.  In 1831, Te Atiawa in Taranaki were defeated by Waikato at the Pukerangiora pa (where Te Wherowhero is reputed to have slaughtered around 100 captives who were then eaten); some survivors were taken as slaves while others escaped to Kapiti.  Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama, who were insecure, quarrelling with Ngati Toa and uncertain of their future in the crowded Kapiti and Wellington areas, moved in 1835 from Wellington to the Chatham Islands where they slaughtered the Moriori.  In 1839 there was fighting between Raukawa and Te Atiawa in Kapiti, with around one hundred killed.  

This was an appalling lifestyle, and with such incessant fighting much productive land was abandoned, with empty lands in Auckland and Taranaki.

In those times the ways of tikanga were followed.  Loyalty was for those in the hapu or iwi; all others were of no importance and could be robbed of land, killed, and eaten.  War bred war, as frequently a group would escape a stronger tribe and move to attack another.  Fighting was strengthened by the demand for revenge, utu, and the call to defend the mana of relations and ancestors.

Starting during the 1830s, as the awareness of another, better way of life and the message of missionaries became recognised, as well as a recognition of the horror of the carnage across the country and the decline in numbers, Maori moved away from that way of life in a great cultural revolution.  Then the universal outlook and peaceful life of Christianity and colonisation came to replace tribal tikanga.

The movement of the past half-decade is turning the clock back to the past of tikanga and the reintroduction of tribal strife in a complete counter-revolution.

This is a terrible mistake, promising disruption and the potential of race war.  New Zealand has never been so divided.  The challenge of the 21st century is to face and oppose talk and ceremonies calling for anger and aggression.  The opposite call must be repeated constantly; everyone in the public eye must speak frequently of equality, that “now we are one”.  And the many celebrations across the country in the past of agreements to live together in peace and security should be remembered, to provide a direction for the nation – away from division to unity. 

We must turn away from grievance and anger, towards a recognition of the great successes of the past, to celebrate the many occasions when peace meetings have rejoiced the end of hostilities and the unity of one people.

Such negotiations and peace-making, followed by celebrations took place across the country, including those at Auckland and at Waitara.

The complexity of the various tribes involved required many years of effort before all issues in that region were resolved.  These included the peacemaking and reconciliation between Ngati Whatua and Ngati Paoa in 1841 and 1842, “the blotting out of the transgressions of the people”, and a great hakari or feast at Remuera in 1844, organised by Te Wherowhero to settle a dispute over Motiti Island off the Tauranga coast.  The following year, “Peace was concluded after years of war between the allied peoples of Maketu, Rotorua and Taupo on one side and the Tauranga and Waikato Maoris on the other.”  There is so much to celebrate when the Treaty brought peace!

Later there was rebellion in the Waikato, where Rewi Maniapoto was a aggressor in the war between the Government and the king movement.  But when the fighting was over, and Governor George Grey offered a generous settlement which included the return of much of the confiscated land back to the Waikato followers of the Maori king, Rewi was delighted and held a great meeting of celebration at Waitara in June, 1878.  This was well attended by chiefs from many places and an official party led by the Premier and the Native Minister, and there were meetings and conciliation among former foes.  Later, in 1894, a monument honouring Rewi was erected at Kihikihi as a personal tribute from Grey with an inscription describing Rewi as a “custodian of harmony between European and Maori”.

In a sad postscript the agreement celebrated at Waitara was torn apart by Tawhiao the following year, when he declared that: “I have the sole right to conduct matters in my land.”

Here is the choice facing New Zealand: to follow Tawhiao with an insistence on separate mana and a determination to get utu for past defeat, or Rewi Maniapoto who decided to live in peace and fellowship, to work together with the magnanimous victor who became his good friend.  How much better it would be to gather as communities to recognise success instead of holding separated race-based meetings to build conflict and hatred.

We have lost our country.

We live in a divided, racist, apartheid state which has had its unity, democracy and sovereignty ripped away, with the final step under preparation – of two separate race-based parliaments passing different laws, with the dominant ‘indigenous’ authority following the ancient, Stone Age and pre-civilisation, culture of tikanga that once brought nation-wide tribal warfare and cannibalism.

How can we turn this around?

This is a huge challenge, a struggle which may endure for decades unless action now is sufficiently decisive.  Two lists of much-needed action are provided in a section, “A different direction” of my book, “Who really broke the Treaty?”, and many positive steps promised by the recent coalition agreement are noted in Appendix 4.  One obvious undertaking is to support and strengthen the ACT and New Zealand First parties, and to pressure all other political parties to sign up to equality.

For those in any position of influence the call is to speak out, clearly and directly, with simple statements (following the KISS, “keep it simple, stupid” direction) so that the call for equality is heard – repeated and explained whenever an opportunity arises, to correct and replace the Big Lie of wrongs of colonisation, of harm to Maori, with the forgetfulness of Maori rebellions when Maori ancestors were breaking the Treaty of Waitangi that they had promised to fulfil.

The rest of us, feeling powerless as the country has been taken away from us, must also speak out, among friends, at social gatherings and in submissions to Select Committees, local councils, and other organisations.  Demands for equality and an end to racial separation must be heard.  This is no time to be afraid of controversy and be silenced.  Dare to speak of equality and other topics that have come to be verboten in polite society.

And celebrate unity and peace.  The mood of the county must change – away from grievance and guilt towards togetherness, with celebration of the many historical events when conflict was replaced by peace and unity.  We must remember the successes of a great little country.