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Colonisation as Global Practice


3.1 Colonisation as Global Practice

The white man was hungry and greedy for land, and the black man shared the land with him as they shared the air and water; land was not for man to possess.

But the white man took the land as you might seize another man’s horse (Mandela, 1994, p. 27).

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M. Jackson (1995, April, p. 2) defines colonisation as a political and economic process by which one nation assumes it has the right to takeover another nation.

The term itself was coined in the fifteenth century in the time of the “great explorers”, to describe the tradition of monarchs expanding their territories and then establishing trading posts and/or missions (Ferro, 1997, p. 1). European colonisation fanned out from Europe to cover Africa, the Americas and the Pacific until independence of assorted kinds was granted in the twentieth century. The British Empire, made up of dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and territories, covered a quarter of the world’s population and made England a colonial superpower for over a century.

Colonial processes are characterised by nations actively extending their territories to feed expansionist capitalist economies, to expand markets, extract raw materials, off-load excess population and in the pursuit of glory for “the empire”.

Embedded within this are the standard processes of colonisation whereby the colonisers impose the mechanisms of western or eastern civilisation through attempting to take control of indigenous spirituality, land, law, language, education, health, family structures and finally culture. Fanon (1961/2004, p. 32) contends the white people’s Christian church is a key element of colonisation; he explains the church “…does not call the native to God’s ways but to the ways of the white man, of the master, of the oppressor”. Colonisation is inherently racist.

According to activist scholar Steven (1990), methods of colonisation are tailored locally, depending on both the response of the indigenous peoples and/or the specific economic and social circumstances within the colonising country.

Colonisation can be achieved through military invasion, mass immigration, the use of imperial devices such as treaties and proclamations of discovery or annexation. English colonising techniques were eclectic. In Canada, a mixed approach was taken including treaties with indigenous groupings and a royal proclamation reinforced by use of military force. In Australia, the English used the legal doctrine of terra nullius22 (territory belonging to no one), as their justification for taking possession of land, they considered unoccupied (L. Jackson

& Ward, 1999).

The structural impact of colonisation has been devastating for many of the 370 million indigenous peoples on the planet. Gracey and King (2009, p. 66) in their substantive review of indigenous health for The Lancet argue that the:

…fabric of traditional societies was shredded by colonisation. Traditional life was suppressed by alien regulations imposed on people who had lived, sometimes for many thousands of years, with well-established, languages, dress, religions, sacred ceremonies, rituals, healers and remedies. This

22 This was overturned within Australian law through the High Court’s Mabo decision in 1993 (Augoustinos, Tuffin, & Rapley, 1999, p. 355).

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legalised disruption was worsened by socioeconomic and political marginalisation, and by racial prejudice, which was often entrenched and institutionalised. This process was hastened by the often-brutal dispossession of traditional lands, and subsequent poverty, undereducation, unemployment, exploitation by unscrupulous employers and landlords, and increasingly dependence on social welfare...

The processes of colonisation directly and indirectly led to the significant decline of indigenous people through diverse sources of introduced mortality and morbidity, such as heightened levels of warfare, disease, land confiscation, destruction of economic base, legislative injustice and systemic discrimination.

Robson (2007) contends that the adverse physical, social, emotional and mental health impacts of colonisation are a dominant determining factor in the health of both indigenous and non-indigenous people and is recognised as such in literature on health and inequities.

Colonisation is described as a process that happened in the past and one that continues to shape contemporary realities of millions of people across the planet (Kirkwood, Liu, & Weatherall, 2005). The colonial portrayal of the native as

‘inferior’, ‘primitive’ or ‘barbaric’ in contrast to the ‘civilised’ coloniser, fuelled through Darwinist beliefs23 in racial hierarchies, has provided a potent enduring ideological justification for what Ramsden (2002, p. 28) calls the “juggernaut of colonisation”. The past cannot be changed, but the challenge before indigenous and non-indigenous peoples alike is how this juggernaut can be successfully redirected and how can what Fanon (1961/2004, p. 27) calls decolonising processes, be activated to reform destructive colonial power relations.

Colonisation of Aotearoa

Māori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa and have lived here for a millennium. Māori society was traditionally organised in kinship groups formed by people who identified with a common ancestor. The world was divided up into physical and spiritual realms and social norms were influenced by the relationship between tapu (that which was made risky) and noa (that which was made safe/normal) (Durie, 1994b). For much of this time there was an abundance of food from cultivation, fishing and hunting which was traded amongst different hapū (sub-tribes) for scarcer goods (Walker, 1990). According to Durie (1994b, p.

8) Māori had, well-developed education, justice and health systems, which had been handed down for many generations, centred on a communal extended whānau lifestyle.

23 Within a New Zealand context this was further fuelled by Darwin’s visit to New Zealand in 1835. Lange (1999, p. 57) outlines Darwin’s observations: “there appears to be some… mysterious agency generally at work. Wherever the European has trod, death seems to pursue the aboriginal…

The varieties of man seem to act upon each other; in the same way as different species of animals – the stronger extirpating the weaker”.

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Early contact between Māori and Pākehā from the early nineteenth century onwards occurred predominately in coastal regions of Aotearoa through whalers, sealers and eventually missionaries. Māori embraced the opportunities of trade and industry opened up by the new arrivals and some travelled extensively to learn more about these strange white people who were arriving on their shores (Kelsey, 1984). Initially Māori and Pākehā worked together well, but over time relationships deteriorated as some Pākehā exploited the full freedom of being beyond the reach of their respective governments. The lawlessness, alcohol abuse and prostitution, according to Tiriti educators, Consedine and Consedine (2001) quickly began to impact negatively on Māori. This set the scene for a willingness to come to some arrangement with the presumed authorities of those causing havoc. This situation drew Aotearoa into a process that might have played out differently, had for example, Māori chosen merely to banish or destroy these new comers to their lands. England took the opportunity to colonise and thus to control not only its own emigrants, but also all who now lived on this land.

In the following sub-section, I examine colonisation as practiced in Aotearoa more closely through examining: the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi 1840 and its precursor He Whakaputanga o Te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni 1835 (Declaration of Independence), the marginalisation of rangatiratanga through the establishment of Pākehā hegemony, and the settler governments’ collusion with land alienation.

I also consider the role Pākehā attitudes and privilege contribute to colonisation and the physical and cultural impact of these processes.

He Whakaputanga o Te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni and Te Tiriti o Waitangi

In 1835 Northern, rangatira came together under the banner of the United Tribes of Aotearoa to discuss the new arrivals problematic behaviour and other international developments. Together they developed He Whakaputanga, which declared Aotearoa a sovereign nation to the international community in part inspired by the American Declaration of Independence. Durie (1998, p. 247) argues this Declaration marked a break from traditionally exclusive tribal orientation in Aotearoa with the introduction of a “confederated approach to governance”. This strategy allowed Māori to present a united front in dealing with the new predominately Anglo-Celtic arrivals. It also resulted in Māori being recognised by the English colonial office as a political entity so Māori could later enter into treaty negotiations as a sovereign partner (Wickliffe & Dickson, 2000).

The new arrivals wayward behaviour persisted and they entered into a variety of what later came to be considered questionable land deals with Māori. In 1840, in an attempt to restore some order in the land, Māori signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi with a representative of the English Crown. Both Lord Normanby’s24 instructions to Governor Hobson, the English lead negotiator, and the preamble to Te Tiriti

24 Lord Normanby was the Secretary of State for the Colonies for the British in 1840.

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according to Māori health advocates, E. Pōmare, et al. (1995, p. 27) show that, at least in part, the motivation of the English to develop a treaty was due to concerns about Māori health and wellbeing. At the time of this peacetime negotiation, Māori controlled the bulk of land and outnumbered Pākehā thirty to one (Pool &

Kukutai, n.d.).

Two versions of this treaty were developed, one in Te Reo and an English language version, the later securing only a handful of signatures.25 An international interpretative rule in the form of contra proferentem indicates that in cases of ambiguity, a treaty is to be interpreted against the party drafting it (Te Puni Kōkiri, 2002, p. 19). In this case, Te Tiriti recognised Māori tino rangatiratanga, granted the English kāwanatanga, and promised Māori ōritetanga with English subjects. When signing Te Tiriti o Waitangi in Kaitaia the kōrero of rangatira, Panakareo reflected the understanding of many Māori that, “the shadow of the land goes to the Queen but the substance remains with us” (as cited in Walker, 1990, p. 98).

Assumption of Pākehā Sovereignty

It took only months for the promises of Te Tiriti to be broken. In November 1840 a Royal Charter was issued that enabled Governor Hobson to both survey the entirety of Aotearoa and declare all ‘waste’ and uncleared lands to be Crown land (Walker, 1990, p. 99). This immediately led to the alienation of significant tracts of Māori land. The resulting disputes between Māori, Crown agents and settlers around land and sovereignty led to a series of armed conflicts - the Land Wars of 1845-1872. Historian Belich (1986, p. 15) argues Governor Grey’s extensive use of military force was critical to his assertion of sovereignty on behalf of the English, with 18,000 colonial troops involved at the height of the conflicts, controlling approximately 60,000 indigenous peoples. Crown violence was considered a legitimate means to quell resistance.

New Zealand became a self-governing colony with its own legislature through, the English statute, the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852. This legislation disenfranchised most Māori from participating in government through an individual property qualification that did not recognise communally owned land.26 It was also one of the primary breaches of Te Tiriti due to its contested interpretation that Māori had ceded sovereignty, thus clearing the way to create New Zealand’s irregular constitutional arrangements. Former Attorney General, Wilson (1995) maintains that by the early 1860s the settler government has assumed control of Māori affairs primarily to facilitate settler access to Māori land.

25 Some major chiefs Te Wherowhero of Waikato and Te Heuheu of Tūwharetoa refused to sign resulting in the most populous Māori districts in the centre of the North Island being effectively outside Te Tiriti. Other chiefs signed twice in return for blankets and tobacco, while still others took their blankets back and asked for the return of their signatures.

26 This legislation was drafted with input from both Governor Grey and New Zealand Company leader Wakefield.

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With the Maori Representation Act 1867, Māori were further marginalised through the introduction of a democratic representation system where Māori as a numerical minority were structurally outnumbered. The only concessions to Māori as treaty partners within this legislation were the inclusion of both a Māori roll and the establishment of four designated Māori seats, in a parliament of seventy.

Spoonley (1993, p. 75) contends that for over one hundred years there has not been equivalence between Māori and non-Māori voting27:

…as the number of general seats has been steadily increased according to a formula that ties population change to the number of electorates. The Māori seats are not subject to the same formula.

In 1867 if, parity had been applied, for instance sixteen Māori seats would have resulted, and potentially a modified colonial political environment.

No such moderation occurred as Pākehā political, economic, ideological hegemony was systematically established by force, by parliament, by democracy and the every-day workings of kāwanatanga as practiced by the settler government. The Ministerial Advisory Committee to the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) (1988, pp. 59-60) asserted that during successive colonial governments’:

…chosen administrators supplant[ed] traditional [Māori] leaders; the state’s agents impose[d] new structure; legal-judicial processes replace[d]

the traditional tribal law; and most significantly, permanent government forces enforce[d] the new rules... In one sweep, they [Māori] were stripped of autonomous government, their legal basis of communal solidarity, their social and spiritual being.

By the 1870s following the mass Anglo-Celtic migrations of the 1860s from the United Kingdom to Aotearoa and the introduction of profit-driven capitalist economy, Pākehā hegemony was effectively entrenched. This allowed Chief Justice Prendergast in the precedent setting case Wi Parata v The Bishop of Wellington (1877) to dismiss the Treaty of Waitangi as “a simple nullity” with no legal status. In the 1882 sitting of parliament, Hon. Robert Trimble, a Taranaki Member of Parliament was reported to have indicated that he “...wished to relegate the Treaty of Waitangi to the wastepaper basket” (as cited in Rusden, 1883, p. 458). This judicial denial of rangatiratanga and parliamentary

27 The number of Māori seats increased from four to seven in 2006 despite significant increases in Māori population and enrolments on the Māori roll over the decades prior to this.

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marginalisation circumvented Māori efforts to secure legal redress for historic and contemporary treaty breaches for decades.28

Settler Government Collusion with Land Alienation

Because the [Māori] land could not be ‘owned’ in a common-law sense by an individual, the authority of rangatiratanga was applied to ensure a balance between the just and communal needs and interests of the iwi and the sustainable protection of Papatūānuku [earth mother] herself. The result was a system of food production and distribution which was just – he waka eke noa – a waka [canoe] in which all can share and to which all must give protection

(M. Jackson, 1993, p. 72).

The new settlers’ quest for land, by fair and foul method,29 dominated the thirty years after the signing of Te Tiriti and was a significant contributor to the Land Wars (Belich, 1986). For many settlers, land was a practical necessity for survival, to shelter one’s family and to plant crops and/or graze animals, to earn a living and feed one’s family. Land was also seen as an economic asset, a marker of status and a pathway to independence. It belonged primarily to individual men.

Whenua according to Rickard (1977, p. 5) in the first instance is land.

Nevertheless for many Māori, she maintains whenua is also:

...the placenta within the mother that feeds the child before birth. And when it is born this whenua is treated with respect, dignity, and taken to a place in the earth and dedicated to Papatūānuku… And there it will nurture the child. You know our food and living come from the earth, and there is the whenua of the child [that] stays and says, “This is your bit of land. No matter where you wander in the world I will be here and at the end of your days you can come back and this is your papakāinga (home) and this – I will receive you in death” (p. 5).

Within this paradigm, the notion of “selling” land and individual “ownership” of land is nonsensical, as you would be selling your ancestors’ bones or the tūrangawaewae (place to stand) of your mokopuna (grandchildren).

By the 1890s, the settlers’ zealous pursuit of land, fuelled by the New Zealand Company30, had resulted in the alienation of more than half of all Māori land holdings. A powerful agent in this alienation was the Native Land Court

28 Prior to this, the settler government had already unilaterally redefined Te Tiriti by waiving Crown pre-emption rights to enable direct purchasing of Māori land by third parties, specifically the New Zealand Company.

29 At times the land was brought from anyone who would accept payment regardless of their title, and was paid for with blankets, tobacco, a few guns, and a pile of bits and pieces (Scott, 1981).

30 The New Zealand Company was established in 1837 with the aim of the systematic colonisation of New Zealand. It established settlements in Wellington, Nelson, Whanganui, New Plymouth and Christchurch.

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established in 1867, which functioned to transform tribal land from communal to individual title. Māori historian, Walker (1993, p. 120) explains:

Those named on the title to a block of tribal land were regarded as trustees by their people, but were treated as owners by the law, with the power to alienate. They were readily seduced or suborned into conveying the title to land sharks and shyster lawyers by a corrupt process of advancing credit, fostering debts and threatening legal action for non-payment. The net result was wholesale dispossession of a people of their patrimony.

Not unexpectedly, Māori engaged in active and passive resistance to this alienation as collective tribal lands had long been something worth fighting for (Scott, 1981). Having exhausted other avenues the Land Wars were the setting where Māori, settlers and the Crown attempted to resolve competing interests.

Central to this conflict were the settlers’ colonial beliefs of Pākehā cultural superiority and a sense of entitlement to both resources and land. In the wake of the land wars, assorted colonial governments indiscriminately confiscated land as penalty for Māori assertions of rangatiratanga and assumed responsibility to administer Māori land through perpetual leases at peppercorn rentals to Pākehā settlers, which further marginalised Māori owners (Walker, 1990, p. 138).

Throughout the Land Wars, legislation was consistently used to advance the aspirations of settlers and disadvantage Māori. Through a detailed review of New Zealand legislation M. Jackson (1993, p. 77) identified over a hundred pieces of legislation and regulation directed at removing land from Māori through the period between 1840 and 1990 inclusive of the Land Wars. Examples included Māori resistance to land alienation in Taranaki31 led to the Suppression of Rebellion Act 1863, which meant if Māori fought to retain land Māori were deemed to be in rebellion against the Crown and land could be seized. The Maori Prisoners Detention Act 1880 enabled Māori political prisoners to be imprisoned without trials.

The loss of life, land confiscations and resulting destruction of Māori economic base and legislative interventions by the settler government through this time remains a low point in New Zealand history. This traumatic period continues to be unravelled over a hundred years later through the Waitangi Tribunal reconciliation processes.

Pākehā Settler Attitudes and Privilege

They conveniently forget that their prosperity, and indeed the wealth of the country as a whole (wealth from which Māori, on the whole have been excluded)

31 The Sim Commission in 1927 found the Māori were never in rebellion; rather they had been forced into the position of taking up arms to protect the property guaranteed them by the Te Tiriti (Waitangi Tribunal, 1996).

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has been built on the backs of Māori – created out of stolen land and resources and cemented through the exploitation of Māori labour

(Mikaere, 2001, p. 137).

For colonisation to be successful in the context of Aotearoa, it required the active participation of Pākehā settlers. Early colonial attitudes as documented in the Southern Cross32 ("The Aboriginals," 1844, July 6, p. 2) reflect a confident white supremacist belief system prevalent amongst many settlers at this time:

The native race is physically, organically, intellectually and morally, far inferior to the European. No cultivation, no education will create in the mind of the present native race that refinement of feeling, that delicate sensibility and sympathy, which characterise the educated European… the Maori is an inferior branch of the human family.

Similarly within my own family documents my great grandfather Smith (Personal correspondence, October 1, 1939), who was living in central Auckland in the early 1840s, noted: that for a girl/woman “...to walk as far as Newmarket there was not only the danger of being lost in the scrub, but also parties of marauding Maoris (sic) often constituted a menace to the city’s first settlers”. Although there was/is no monolithic Pākehā view, historian, Lange argues (1999, p. 60)

“unbridled racism” was certainly found amongst nineteenth century settlers which influenced and shaped settler interactions with Māori and enabled colonisation.

The impact of these attitudes was likely to have been compounded by the mass Anglo-Celtic migration which led to settlers outnumbering Māori by 1850 (Denoon, Smith, & Wyndham, 2000). This mass immigration was in part a result of misleading immigration/real estate advertising by the New Zealand Company (Burns & Richardson, 1989). This numerical shift in the balance of power between Māori and Pākehā served to consolidate the Pākehā position.

For both Māori and Pākehā the legacy of the Land Wars continues, particularly for land-owning Pākehā like my own family, with multiple generations benefiting from access to land. The systematic alienation of Māori land both resulted in the

“indigenisation of poverty” in this country (M. Jackson, 1993), and provided opportunities for my ancestors and other Pākehā to become farmers, horticulturalists and to make a secure (albeit weather-affected) livelihood. Steven (1990) contends Pākehā through the period 1860-1890 had one of the highest standards of living in the world.33

This privileging of settlers inherent in the colonisation process is both structural and, for me, personal. In conducting treaty education in Taranaki with a kuia from

32 The Southern Cross was an early colonial newspaper.

33 Pākehā also enjoyed amongst the lowest death rates in the world from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. The rigors of the voyage out, shipping costs and disease inspections, and the prospect of heavy labour once here, meant the poorest and least-healthy seldom made the trip.

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Parihaka we shared stories of our ancestors with our co-learners, how her ancestors became farm labourers while mine became farm owners. Such is the clear-cut impact of this enduring land grab and the transfer of resources by fair and foul means between indigenous and Pākehā New Zealanders. Awatere (1984, p. 35) powerfully explains the privileging inherent in colonisation:

All white people share in the benefits of the alienation of Maori land, in the imposition of European cultural values of individualism, materialism, in the imposition of their concepts of spirituality and in the imposition of the English language.

Impact of Colonisation: Genocide and Physical Survival Genocide denied, however, remains genocide, no matter how out of the sight and

mind of polite society it may be rendered in the denial (Churchill, 1999, p. 228).

The direct and indirect impact of colonisation on Māori meant by 1900 the estimated population stood at 42,000 reduced from 150,000 a century before (Pool

& Kukutai, n.d.). Similarly land owned by Māori was reduced from twenty six million to just under three million acres (Durie, 1994b, p. 37). This dramatic population drop can be linked to the unintended introduction of infectious disease such as measles, tuberculosis, influenza and whooping cough and the deliberate introduction of muskets,34 alcohol, money and tobacco. Figure 5, developed by educationalists, Gledhill, Sinclair, B. Jackson and Webber (1982, p. 34) is a pictorial representation of some of the forces impacting on traditional Māori society as a result of colonisation - including the mixed contribution of missionaries.

Figure 5: The Effect of European Ways [Colonisation] on Old Māori Society

From Aspects of our past: A selective history of New Zealand, 1840-1980 p.34. D. Gledhill; A.

Sinclair; B. Jackson & B. Webber 1982 Auckland, New Zealand: Macmillan. Reprinted with permission.

34 Approximately 30,000 people were killed by introduced muskets between 1810 and 1835 (Durie, 1994b, p. 35).