Monday, 29 July 2019

Our trail of tears: the story of Ihumātao by historian Vincent O'Malley

The usual Pākeha reporters, quick on opinions and short on facts (need they be named?) see  the Ihumātao debacle as a simple case of some Maori breaking the law, and Jacinda Ardern allowing them to get way with it by halting further action while calling for all parties to join in discussion.  I see this a step by a wise Prime Minister, anxious to ensure all sides are properly heard. Historian Vincent O'Malley sees it as another example of an unfair and unresolved past. -- ACW
The tino rangatiratanga flag is seen at Ihumātao as the day draws to an end for protesters on the land on Friday 26 July (Photo: RNZ)

The current standoff at Ihumātao has deep roots in the legacy of colonialism and land confiscation. Historian Vincent O’Malley writes in The Spinoff about how it was taken by the Crown, and why that matters today.

The New Zealand Wars may have ended nearly 150 years ago. But their consequences continue to be felt today. Nowhere is that clearer at the moment than at Ihumātao. To understand what is taking place, we need to step back to the time of the Waikato War. 

In July 1863 the Crown launched a premediated war of conquest and invasion directed against Kīngitanga (Māori King movement) supporters in Waikato and those of their kin who lived further north, around the shores of Manukau Harbour, at Ihumātao, Māngere and elsewhere. 

These were the same Māori communities who had been feeding and protecting the settlers of Auckland for more than two decades. Earlier, during the Northern War of 1845-46, they had pledged to defend the township from possible attack. But now they stood accused by the Crown of plotting to massacre these very same Pākehā. It was a desperate lie, attempting to justify the unjustifiable – the Crown levying war upon its own subjects.

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