Come on, Joel – more research should show that classism and the pox weren’t the only exports sent here by the Poms

ACT​ leader David Seymour (who is doing nicely in opinion polls) irked many people when he sent out priority vaccination access codes intended for Māori.

The critics (no surprises here) included

  • Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson, who said the move was “despicable” and she would be writing to Speaker Trevor Mallard about it.
  • Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, who said it was a “low-life move” aimed at intentionally sabotaging the Māori vaccine campaign.

This week, former Stuff reporter Joel Maxwell pitched in, too, to huff:

I’ll admit, Māori like myself were pretty angry about it. Some might accuse us of being ideologically driven, and that’s true – if the ideology was not wanting our whānau to die.

Having told us what he thinks of Seymour and his politicking, Maxwell proceeded to a bout of Pommy-bashing:

I mean, Seymour aside, Aotearoa has become a bit of an obsession for people based in places like the US and England. Pundits, private citizens, want us to adopt their approaches.

“I don’t want to seem rude, but from an indigenous perspective the only thing England successfully exported was classism – oh, and syphilis. England didn’t even provide penicillin – the eventual syphilis-fixer was a Scot, Sir Alexander Fleming, and fungus. But seriously, despite a magnificent past, the likes of the US and UK have thoroughly messed up modern life.”

The only thing England successfully exported was classism and syphilis?

This crass remark, tongue in cheek or not, rankled a writer whose grandmother hailed from Brighton.

My initial inclination was to wonder about the contribution made to Maxwell’s genetics – because his is not an obviously Maori surname – by his English forbears.

A quick check established that Maxwell had cleverly railed against the English, not the British.

Maxwell Name Meaning

Scottish: habitational name from a place near Melrose in Roxburghshire. The place name is first recorded in 1144 in the form Mackeswell ‘Mack’s spring or stream (Old English well(a))’. Irish: this surname is common in Ulster, where it has sometimes been adopted as an alternative to Miskell. Jewish: arbitrary adoption of the Scottish name, or Americanized form of one or more like-sounding Jewish surnames.

 Hence Maxwell could mention syphilis and the penicillin that dealt to it, which was the discovery of a Scottish scientist.

But hey.  Maxwell’s article deals with a vaccination programme and a list of English accomplishments – let the record show – includes

The Vaccine and Discovery of Immunology – 1796

Edward Jenner was an English physician and scientist, who, in 1796, pioneered vaccination (of smallpox if not in general).

Jenner is commonly known as the “father of immunology” and his discoveries in the latter half of the 17th Century has saved countless lives since.

Edward was declared one the 100 Greatest Britons of all time by the BBC in 2002

 Anything else?

We are apt to venture that Maxwell’s denunciation of Seymour was published in a newspaper, and – so far as we can find – the first British settlers imported the printing press and newspapers because the Maori hadn’t got around to inventing these yet.

Moreover we found Maxwell’s article on the Stuff website and…

Guess what?

The World Wide Web, the First Website, and the First Web Browser – 1989

Tim Berners-Lee had a dream, one that came to fruition in the latter half of the 1980s.

As an independent contractor for CERN in 1980, he developed a project using the concept of hypertext to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers. He built ENQUIRE, a prototype system, to showcase his information web project. 

In 1989, after lending his talents to a private company, Berners-Lee saw an opportunity to join hypertext with the internet as CERN became the place to be. 

Berners-Lee wrote his proposal in March 1989 and, in 1990, redistributed it.

His ENQUIRE system provided the basis to create the World Wide Web, for which he also designed and built the first Web browser

Anything else come to mind?

Parliamentary democracy looked like a great import to us, here at Point of Order, but it’s fair to say it’s not everybody’s idea of a good way to run a country and maybe we should take our cue from the way Maori chiefs run their tribes.

Let’s go for something more popular.

The Chocolate Bar – 1847

Without a doubt, the absence of chocolate bars would be a real tragedy for the modern world.

Thankfully we will never know thanks to the work of JS Fry and Sons in 1847. 

Their formula for mixing cocoa powder, sugar and cocoa to form true chocolate bars would change the world forever. 

And here comes the big one.


Where would the Maori All Blacks be without a curiously shaped ball to kick and pass according to the rules of a game imported from …

Say it, Joel.

It came from ENGLAND!

5 thoughts on “Come on, Joel – more research should show that classism and the pox weren’t the only exports sent here by the Poms

  1. Mr Maxwell called himself indigenous- which he is not and neither are any Maori- so what did they import when they came to NZ? What particular care did they show the local fauna? How unified where they? And how long since they were cannibals which the British settlers were definitely not! I think Mr Maxwell needs a dose of real history to get his facts straight and perhaps eat humble pie.


  2. When I see anything with Joel Maxwell as the byline I skip it. He is not a reporter, just a half-baked opinion writer, whose only research is invariably the depths of his own prejudices.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. About ten seconds after entering ‘English inventions’ in DuckDuckGo, I was reading a list of 45 English inventions – some of them obviously by Scots, so British then – and was surprised to learn that the incandescent bulb was an English, not American invention, along with others Maxwell has doubtless found useful, eg, stainless steel, pneumatic tyres, etc.

    And then there are people such as Joseph Lister, Florence Nightingale, etc whose practices, while not inventions, have transformed our lives for the better.

    As Chris points out, he has become an entirely avoidable, half-baked opinion writer.


  4. I challenge MR Maxwell to name a single cultural element or tribal practice that Maori used in pre-European times that is of any benefit to the average New Zealand in their present lives.. One single element.
    Bryan Johnson, Omokoroa


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