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Book controversy erupts with claims that the Greeks were here before Maori
(TV3 News) AUT history professor Dr Paul Moon has described new books questioning the Maori people’s status as the original New Zealanders as “poisonous” and “reckless speculation dressed up as scholarship”.
To The Ends of the Earth, by Noel Hilliam, argues that Greeks and Egyptians settled New Zealand 2000 years ago, and that Maui was a Greek explorer.
The Great Divide, by Investigate magazine’s Ian Wishart, argues that not only were there pre-Maori civilisations in New Zealand, but that academics have deliberately misrepresented the country’s ancient past.
“This is, of course, preposterous,” says Dr Moon, who himself has published several books on New Zealand history.
Dr Moon says in the past academics have generally ignored books like these, but they can no longer afford to.
The reason why these books are so poisonous”, he says, “is that their theories are starting to enter the bloodstream of the popular historical imagination and are beginning to circulate with greater force.”
The authors “doggedly follow any stray scent if they suspect it will support their argument, and yet they have turned their backs on a vast amount of available research which contradicts their theories”, says Dr Moon.
TangataWhenua.com: To keep things in perspective we found the following on the Reading the Maps Blog:
Noel Hilliam, the retired farmer from Dargaville who has become infamous, over the past quarter century, for making a series of bizarre claims about New Zealand history. Over the years Hilliam has discovered a Viking city in the forests north of Dargaville, Spanish ships in the sandy mouth of Kaipara Harbour, a Nazi submarine filled with gold in the Tasman Sea, and the skeletons of an ancient tribe of giant white people in remote caves. Again and again, Hilliam has failed to produce evidence for his sensational claims, and faced ridicule. Again and again, he has presented gullible journalists with new fantasies.
Back in 2010 Hilliam made a particularly strange and embarrassing claim. After Hilliam rang up its editor, a publication called Dargaville Online ran a story celebrating his receipt of the prestigious Senior New Zealander of the Year award. Investigations by readers of this blog, though, soon revealed that Hilliam had not received the award at all, and Dargaville Online had to run a retraction.
Noel Hilliam’s book may not be popular amongst trained scholars, but it has excited a number of right-wing bloggers. Cameron Slater, for instance, took a break from his campaign against Auckland’s wharfies to post a link to an account of the book. Slater predicted that Hilliam’s claims ‘would bend some Maori out of shape’, and said that he couldn’t wait ‘for the headlines expressing outrage’.