Moana Jackson, described as a “Te Tiriti specialist” in a recent Stuff report, dismissed Tuia 250 as a load of humbug.
To celebrate the dual heritage of navigation across the Pacific, he contended, “then it wouldn’t be Tuia 250, it would be Tuia 2000 or something.”
More egregious, to “commemorate” Captain James Cook’s arrival in this country seems “weird” to Jackson:
“When it comes to explorers, you usually make a big deal of whoever did something first.
“Neil Armstrong is acknowledged as the first astronaut to land on the Moon. There’s no real celebration of the 12th astronaut to land on the Moon. And Cook wasn’t even the 12th navigator to sail across the Pacific.
“So I’m not sure what the baseline was for commemorating him – except that he has become an important part of the misremembering of colonising history.”
A great deal of misremembering has been going on, as Point of Order demonstrated in its report on RNZ’s unquestioning endorsement of East Coast iwi efforts to “put the record straight”.
But if Jackson insists Cook should not be commemorated without a famous first – a worthy one, of course – well, dare we suggest the first mapping of New Zealand was an admirable accomplishment?
Mind you, we note something of a caveat in this account of Cook’s accomplishments on a government website:
“As captain on three voyages of discovery in the late eighteenth century, James Cook became the first European to define the outline of New Zealand. Thanks to Cook’s detailed charts, and his gentlemen passengers’ scientific and artistic documentation, accurate knowledge of New Zealand was available in Europe for the first time from the 1770s.”
This suggests a non-European had already mapped the country when Cook did his mapping.
Can anyone identify who did this and show us a copy of the first map?
But Jackson seems disinclined to credit Cook with anything positive and proceeded to denigrate the English explorer:
“It’s convenient to forget or downplay that wherever he stopped he or his crew killed indigenous people and introduced diseases from syphilis to smallpox – and began a process that led to the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people.”
Every time he or his crew stepped ashore during their voyages, they killed indigenous people and – like modern-day bio-terrorists – were armed with biological weapons?
This contrasts with the account of Cook on the government website:
Instead of finding a great land mass to balance those of the northern hemisphere, Cook initiated the first Māori-European interaction since Abel Tasman’s brief encounter in 1642. In his remarkably accurate charting of New Zealand and his dealings with Māori, Cook displayed his excellence as a navigator and his essential humanity.
Learning from his tragic experience of confused bloodshed after the first landfall in 1769 at present-day Gisborne, Cook evolved a policy of race relations aimed at facilitating surveying work and the resupply of his ships, while avoiding friction with Māori. This cooperation was necessary to sustain his crew on the three visits Cook made to New Zealand, in 1769-70, 1773 and 1777.”
Jackson’s uncompromising contempt for Cook and portrayal of him as a mass murderer had already been published in an article headed James Cook and our monuments to colonisation:
“Yet the very assumption of a “right to discover” new lands was invented by the colonisers as a legal justification for them to become the colonial master. Cook’s journey across the Pacific is thus marked by both the death and destruction that always accompanied colonisation and the legal pretence that justified it all.
“In each place, the killings of Indigenous Peoples were usually quick and brutally dismissive. The rituals of discovery, on the other hand, were carefully planned, with the raising of flags and solemn proclamations that the land concerned had become the property of England.”
Once again, Cook is being accused of killing indigenous people wherever he stopped and any suggestion of self-defence – a mitigating consideration recorded in Cook’s journals – is simply ignored.
Did Maori engage in the murders of people they conquered?
We are thinking of the mass killing by Maori of Moriori on the Chatham Islands.
Jackson was recently asked about this at a gathering he had addressed.
When one brave soul asked about the Moriori extermination, Jackson rather dismissively claimed that story was a “mythtake”, suggesting historian Michael King be read on the subject. It was the only occasion in which his answers disappointed. Denying genocide and of a pacifist culture at that did his argument no favours.
We wonder how he regards the murders of some of Abel Tasman’s crew back in 1642:
The first encounter between Māori and Europeans took place in December 1642 at what is now called Golden Bay. Tasman named it Murderers Bay after a violent encounter with Māori. As Māori approached the Dutch ships in canoes, one canoe rammed a ship’s boat that was passing between Tasman’s two vessels, killing four Dutchmen. One Māori was hit by a shot from Tasman’s men in response to the attack.
Come to think of it, are the good people of the Netherlands owed an apology from Maori for this unhappy encounter?
Perhaps not. Maybe the Dutch should be apologising for inciting the Maori to behave in this uncharacteristically hostile fashion.