Tragically, it appears that the near demolition of the ACT party in last month’s elections and her own ejection from parliament have had an unhinging effect on Muriel Newman. Or, at least, I hope that her recently espoused views on New Zealand's history are the product of a temporary, defeat inspired, malaise. If they’re not, then we will all have to accept the rather chilling reality that New Zealand’s parliament was home to someone not only lacking any knowledge of New Zealand history but who also believes in the zaniest of conspiracy theories.
Muriel, you see has got herself a website. And in this website, amongst the predictable ranting against the evils of the welfare state, is this opinion piece on the state of race relations in New Zealand. Once again, most of it is predictable enough in an Act-ista kind-of way, but buried in there amongst the one-law-for all bluster is this worrying little nugget:
The Maori Party’s strategy is based on indoctrinating the public - starting in the schools and imposing their propaganda on the public service. But some argue there are fatal flaws in the fundamental basis of their claims and dispute whether they are indeed the tangata whenua. They point to Moriori pre-dating Maori and a body of evidence suggesting the existence of people before them.
The first worrying aspect of this quote has to do with the troubling presence of the Moriori; and the significance of their presence to the debate on race relations in New Zealand. By “the troubling presence of the Moriori” I don’t mean, of course, their presence in the Chatham Islands, nor am I alluding to the thoroughly debunked myth that the Moriori predated the Maori in New Zealand. What troubles me is the presence of this myth in the commentary of a former New Zealand politician (and an aspiring pundit). As Russell Brown notes this is pretty convincing evidence that she hasn’t picked up any history texts in the last 30 or so years. Even more disturbing, however, is the allusion to a body of evidence that “suggesting the existence of people before them [the Moriori].” When Ms Newman starts alluding to the presence of people in New Zealand prior to the Moriori (or Maori) she is moving beyond the realm of once widely believed but now discredited nonsense and into the parallel universe of conspiracy theory lunacy. To guide us through this universe Ms Newman helpfully provides a box of quotes from some gentleman called Matin Doutre. Mr Doutre informs us that:
“I continue to write articles about the Patu-paiarehe people who were here before the Polynesian / Melanesian Maori (described by Maori as kiri-puwhero and uru-kehu, which means light complexion, reddish tint skin and reddish tinged, blondish hair). It's only in the past thirty years or so that this, once, regionally accepted fact has been muted and removed from our more modern history books or any honourable mention in conversation (due to the ushering in of political correctness & racial sensitivity issues).”Which is not only nuts but also starts to sound just a little bit like people who claim that the holocaust is a myth and has been inserted into “our more modern history books”. To be clear, I am in no way implying that Mr Doutre is a holocaust denier, but his language and paranoid conspiracies about re-written history certainly shares a methodology with holocaust deniers, if not an intent.
Still, I was somewhat intrigued, so I decided to follow a link provided by Mr Doutre to a website called CelticNZ (the link is on Ms Newman’s website, so presumably she approves). At CelticNZ I was regaled by ‘evidence’ that the first settlers in New Zealand were not actually Maori (nor even Moriori) but actually Celts. And, among other ‘evidence’ there were some nifty photos of ‘Celtic Stone Circles’. Right Here! In New Zealand! I’ve pasted in a couple of these photos in below:
These photos and others can be found here.
And for comparison’s sake I’ve also inserted a shots of Stone Henge (a genuine British Stone Circles) (photo copyright; source here; also photos of Avebury another stone circle - take a look.)
The similarities are – how shall we put it – rather underwhelming. No? At least, in my opinion; but you be the judge and I’ll restrict myself to one final comment.
If this is the sort of ‘history’ that Muriel Newman has to resort to, to justify her political beliefs I feel very, very sorry for her.
Hat Tip: Russell Brown