Tom O’Connor writes in Stuff:
This latest set of demands to rewrite history, or erase those parts some people don’t like, has grown out of the Black Lives Matter slogan presently sweeping the world. The mistreatment of African Americans, from the era of slavery to the present day, is something only America can correct. Showing moral support for the victims of such mistreatment however is commendable and typical of mainstream New Zealand more so than most other countries. Attempting to translocate that cause to New Zealand and then demand name changes for cities and the removal of statues and memorials on the spurious argument that they represent everything from slavery and oppression to murder and racism might convince a few politicians, out of fear of being labelled racist but most people will simply disengage at best or retaliate with equally ill-informed demands.
It should not be forgotten that the initial economy of almost every nation in the world, including New Zealand, was built on slave labour. From the Roman Empire to early Britain slaves, serfs and peasants were a massive forced labour source. Even the Australian economy was initially built on the forced labour of transported convicts. The 1830s flax industry of Wellington, commanded by Te Rauparaha, and the kauri timber trade in Hokianga, commanded by Tamati Waka Nene and others were both totally reliant on thousands of slaves. When Maori invaded and conquered the Chatham Islands in the same era the resident Moriori, who survived the initial conflict, were enslaved. It was simply the way things were done back then by all nations. If we were to pull down the statue of every person involved in or who might have benefited from slavery there would be very few statues anywhere in the world and that may not be a bad thing.
New Zealand has, with doubt, a serious issue with racism which few are prepared to admit let alone address. But it needs to be resolved by an intelligent, well-informed and honest discussion. Changing names and removing memorials to the past will just make that task harder as the majority of people will simply continue to turn their backs on it.
A very reasonable column that the appeasers should read.
A useful history lesson from The Prow:
As in many other cultures, slavery was a key element of Māori society. Mōkai (servants or slaves) were usually spoils of war, condemned to lives of drudgery, danger, heavy physical work and obedience to their masters or mistresses’ whims; they were expected to fight under supervision, could be used to negotiate with enemies, or as food if supplies were short. Female slaves might be prostitutes, or become secondary wives to their conquerors. …
The Treaty of Waitangi, 1840, outlawed the taking of slaves, and made all Māori British citizens, but did not affect pre-Treaty arrangements.
So in the case of NZ, colonisation led to the end of legal slavery.
I’m in no way saying colonisation has been wholly beneficial, but I get sick of people who try to portray everything done by the British and NZ Governments as evil, and that pre-colonisation society was wonderful.