Guest Post: Pasifika is bollocks

A guest post by :

I have watched with some amusement the restricted coverage in the MSM of the violence and riots before and after the Tonga – Samoa rugby league test in Hamilton on Saturday. While the teams themselves apparently toed the party line and made the game itself a festival occasion, out in the streets of Hamilton and Otahuhu, the picture was very different, both before and after the game.

We have all heard this term “” which, as far as I can work out, is a recently invented  term encompassing people from all Pacific Islands, and implying that underneath the superficial differences in language and culture, all “pacific peoples” are really  one big happy family. The one place one never hears the term is in the Islands themselves! The reason is very simple: the whole “construct” is bollocks, and  a  fantasy of lefties in academia. The truth, for historical and cultural reasons, is that  various Islanders hate each other.

I hasten to make clear that my familiarity with the enmities between Island groups is largely limited to Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji. There may be more truth in the “pasifika” thing as between – say – the Tahitians and the Hawaiians, but I  would be a little surprised if that is the case.

So, far from being one big happy family, the Samoans and  Tongans hate each other  with a vengeance, and the Fijians and the Tongans don’t like each other much either. Why is that? Well, the reasons go back 1000 years or so, and like Maori, Islanders have very very long memories. Grievances can lie latent beneath the surface for a couple of generations until   vengeance – utu for the Maori, huhu’i ho mamahi for Tongans – is exacted.

Why do the Samoans hate the Tongans? Very simple. From about 800 AD so far as modern historians can tell, the warlike Tongans controlled an empire that included the Samoas and Rotuma in Fiji.  This empire lasted until perhaps 1200 AD, and other than the clear genetic evidence of Polynesian influence in Rotuma – which is part of Melanesian Fiji – there was no evidence of it by the time Europeans began to colonize the Pacific in the early 1800’s. Like Maori, neither the Tongans nor Samoans had a written language, so this was all oral history.

Although they don’t talk about it much, the inhabitants of all three Island nations are very well aware of this historical reality. You would never know it at pan-pacific gatherings – at least until cocktail  hour – but the resentments on the part of the two  subject nations, and the matching huge pride on the part of the Tongans is very real and palpable.

While the historical enmities  quickly show themselves after consumption of alchohol – yes folks, as anyone who has lived in the Islands can tell you, most Islanders don’t handle booze too well – alcohol is not necessary for old hatreds and resentments to emerge.

Garrett & Associates of Nuku’alofa only ever employed one male lawyer – my predecessor was right when he said “only hire women; the men are mostly useless”. My one male employee told a great story about what happened when his school rugby team played in Samoa. If the Tongan team were winning as full time approached, the team bus would quietly edge forward  from the parking lot to the edge of the field. Then, a few minutes before full time, the captain would shout a code word, and  Tongan boys would race for the bus. The reason? If the final whistle blew with Tonga winning, there would be an instant brawl, involving both the two teams on the field and their supporters.

My employee was a bit coy on what happened in reverse, when a Samoan schoolboy team played in Tonga and won, but I suspect exactly the same thing happened, with the Samoans making for the bus rather than getting a beating.

What is my point in all this? Of course I will be labeled a racist – yawn – but I don’t believe I am. Racism is the belief that one race is superior or inferior to another merely by reason of their race. To my shame, I admit to having been somewhat racist when I first went to Tonga in 1999. Six months in the country quickly disabused me of the notion that whitey was superior  or that  brown people were inherently inferior: there is a bell curve of Tongan intelligence and other traits just as there is a bell curve for every other race, and every other trait. In all  races there are dumb ones and very smart ones, with most falling in the middle.

My point is that Polynesians are inherently TRIBAL – they like their own kind and tend to strongly dislike “the other”. That has been the case for hundreds of years, and, regardless of the handwringing that might occur in university sociology and anthropology departments, I suspect that will remain so for another few hundred years. Or forever, much as the various “tribes” in the Balkan countries hate each other.

Tribalism, and its close cousin nationalism, is  to a greater or lesser extent, part of the human condition. New Zealanders and Australians have, by and large, reduced it to a friendly rivalry, with much accent mocking and sheep shagging jokes, with the butt of the joke  depending on which side of the Tasman you are on. The rivalry between the Norwegians and the Swedes is similar – the Norwegians are the butt of Swedish “Irish” jokes.  The Tongans and Samoans haven’t quite got there yet. Let’s not pretend otherwise for the sake of political correctness.

Note that guest posts are the views of the author, not of Kiwiblog.

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