May 6, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Maori were already civilised, thanks very much | Letter to the Editor (Gisborne Herald)

2 min read
Re: First Nation, Thors latest winge (Feb. 10).
Thor claims that the term First Nation implies that we have a two-class society, which he finds intensely insulting yet it doesnt imply that at all.

The term First Nations Peoples came into common usage in the 1980s in Canada to replace the term Indian band, which some First Nations peoples took offence to.

It was never intended to elevate one class of peoples above another. In a similar context, the US government prefers the term Native Americans.

Te Whanau-a-Takimoana, like many other hapu, are neither First Nations peoples, nor Native Americans they are Maori or tangata whenua. This does not distinguish them as a class above non-Maori, although they do have distinct obligations as sovereign peoples and distinct rights as indigenous peoples.

Thor then claims that the term peoples is ungrammatical, as people is already plural. However, the plural form peoples logically refers to more than one community or nation, hence the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

He then cautions readers that he will be forced to start referring to the civilising nation as Thors forebears civilised the First Nation through the introduction of technology and Christianity, which resulted in First Nation peoples having access to modern-day comforts.

Yet, in 1769, Joseph Banks observed a highly sophisticated state of cultivation in the Anaura Bay area. In 1773, tangata whenua at Uawa were trading dressed flax and mats for iron goods with the French and this before the arrival of Christianity. This is not indicative of the existence of an uncivilised society.

Before 1840, East Coast Maori were engaged in international trade which intensified in the 1850s, attracting the envy and jealousy of the settlers.

Driven by settler greed for land, war of the 1860s and the subsequent rise to prominence of the colonial government seriously impeded Maori social progress.

Maori owe the settlers nothing except the duty of care. Maori enjoyment of modern-day comforts is of their own making.


This eloquent reply was in response to this ignorant letter to the editor -

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