Chris Trotter writes:
An armed band of about 150 terrorists enters an isolated village in a country torn by civil war.
The men defending the village, accepting the terrorist leader’s assurances that they will not be harmed, surrender their weapons.
One man refuses, telling the terrorist leader: “If I hand over my gun, you will kill me.”
Shots are exchanged, the man falls.
The terrorists then start slaughtering the defenceless villagers – mostly women and children. Forty are killed – many hacked to death with bayonets and axes.
Meanwhile, outside the village, local farming families are also being attacked and killed.
About a dozen men, women and children are murdered: some bayoneted; some shot in the back as they fled. Their homesteads are looted and set alight.
Having completed their grisly raid, the terrorists take refuge in the nearby mountains.
What would be your best guess as to what happens next?
If you said a small army made up of professional soldiers and local volunteers headed into the mountains in pursuit of the terrorists, you would, of course, be correct.
And if the commanders of that small army discovered that the local inhabitants of the mountainous region into which the terrorists had fled were providing them with food, shelter, ammunition and new recruits?
What would your best guess be as to their next move? If you said they’d probably “unleash hell” on the local inhabitants, then, once again, you’d be quite right.
Now, when and where did this terrorist raid take place? Last week in the mountainous border region separating Afghanistan from Pakistan? Not even close.
The incidents I’ve just described took place in and around what is now Te Urewera National Park in April, 1869.
The “terrorists” were Te Kooti’s “Hauhaus”. The village was Mohaka. The local tribe which gave Te Kooti and his men shelter was Tuhoe.
THE Waitangi Tribunal has so far released more than a thousand pages of historical research into the Tuhoe people’s claim to Te Urewera.
But you’ll not find anything on those thousand pages remotely resembling the Mohaka massacre as I have described it.
There is a peculiar reticence on the part of the tribunal’s historians to acknowledge that the war which spilled over into the Tuhoe people’s territory in the 1860s and 70s was a civil war.
Chris, as I understand it, is not saying Tuhoe did not suffer grievous wrongs, and is not saying there should not be a settlement as compensation.
His issue is that the professional historians are not providing the full historical context for what happened.