Many of us have grave reservations about the content the new, soon-to-be-compulsory history curriculum. As political commentator Chris Trotter writes in Taking Control Of The Nation’s Story:
“If Maori nationalist historians can seize control of the new, soon-to-be-compulsory, history curriculum, then the necessary ideological preparations can be made for a radical constitutional transformation”.
We have a right to expect a fair view of our history that it will be taught in a factual and unbiased manner. However, our hopes are already being dashed - the indoctrination of children through fake history is already being realised.
Ti Tiriti o Waitangi – a comic book, by Ross Calman, Mark Derby and Toby Morris – a book full of a great many errors of fact and interpretation - being a case in point. This is being touted as a graphic novel providing a fresh approach to the story of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It is already available in many primary and intermediate schools in New Zealand.
You can read it at the Spin Off blog, please click HERE.
The Ministry of Education has an audio version, available HERE.
Our children are entitled to an education that is free from political manipulation. This principle is absent from this publication. It is biased and inaccurate - bound to misinform and mislead. It should not be available in our school system.
If you agree with the condemnation of this book, (please see our reasons below), we encourage you to take action. Send a letter to your MP, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education, requesting they immediately remove this comic book from our schools.
Follow this up by voicing your concerns to National’s Simon Bridges, ACT’s David Seymour and NZ First’s Winston Peters.
Please encourage your friends, family and colleagues to also do so. A couple of letters can easily be dismissed, but 100, 200 or more - not so much.
Below are listed some of the passages of concern, with accompanying explanations. (Excerpts from the book are in italics). Scroll down to view a copy of the book.
The text talks up the Declaration of Independence, signed by a small number of chiefs in 1835 but fails to point out this was a failure, as it never succeeded in its goal of setting up a pan-tribal Maori government. No meeting of the confederate chiefs ever took place after 1835.
Even more serious is the assertion in Part 2 that “important words and concepts such as sovereignty were not properly explained in te reo Maori. Many people now think that was done on purpose.” And: “For Maori, the spoken promises made by British officials were more important than the written text. Their explanations about how Te Tiriti would affect the chiefs and their people were often misleading”. There is no evidence that there was a deliberate intention to mislead the Maori chiefs. On the contrary, it is clear from the records which William Colenso made at the time that the chiefs understood very well what sovereignty meant - that they were being asked to subordinate their authority to Queen Victoria. We know this because many of the speeches made by chiefs objected to being subordinate in that way - but nevertheless they did sign. Twenty years later, in 1860, at a conference of many chiefs at Kohimarama, speech after speech by chiefs reaffirmed their commitment to the authority of the Queen.
The book claims that the Maori version of Article II of the Treaty promised that “Chiefs would still rule their people independently, while the Pakeha governor would control the Pakeha”. This is profoundly dishonest! Article II says nothing of the kind - it states:
“The Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs & tribes and to all the people of New Zealand the possession of their lands, dwellings and all their property. But the chiefs of the Confederation and the other chiefs grant to the chiefs Queen, the exclusive right of purchasing such land as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to sell at such prices as shall be agreed upon between them and the persons appointed by the Queen to purchase from them”.
Furthermore, the book’s grossly misleading interpretation of Article II is demonstrably inconsistent with the preamble of the Treaty, about which the book is silent, no doubt because the preamble doesn’t suit the pejorative narrative the book is peddling.
In Part 3, it is asserted that “before 1840, almost all the land and natural resources belonged to Maori”. This is quite a misleading statement. Before 1840, much land in Northland had already been sold to Pakeha, as had very large tracts of land in the South Island. This is illustrated by the fact that at the signing of the Treaty Chief Rewa complained that all of his land had gone. Furthermore, there is no mention that after the signing of the Treaty, the Crown set up a land commission to investigate land transactions which pre-dated the Treaty, and any Governor Hobson considered to be unfair were taken from the purchaser and returned to Maori, without compensation for the buyers. But instead of pointing this out, the authors prefer to highlight that: “After Te Tiriti was signed, the governor and his officials encouraged Maori to sell the land”.
The text states that “As punishment for rebelling again the government, the British took millions of hectares of land from iwi”. This gross exaggeration casts doubt on the integrity of the authors. Approximately 1.3 million hectares were confiscated “as punishment for rebelling against the government”, which Maori tribes should not have been surprised about because they were amply warned this would be a consequence. In the event, more than half the area confiscated, or some 700,000 hectares, was returned to Maori, leaving a net amount confiscated of 600,000 hectares - a large area, but certainly not “millions of hectares”. That 600,000 hectares was not much more than 2% of New Zealand’s land area. But that’s not the impression given by the book’s grossly inflated claim.
The pejorative nature of the book is again illustrated in the statement “The court changed the way Maori land was owned, making it easier for Pakeha settlers to buy”. This is a very subjective view – the author could just as easily have said, “making it easier for Maori to sell”.
The book states that “Maori children were often punished for speaking their language.” That is true, but there is no reference to the fact that Maori themselves petitioned the government to ban te reo in schools because they realised that learning English was the pathway to the modern world.
Please note that the comic book is informed by the material originally published in the following two school journals:
- “Te Tiriti o Waitangi” by Ross Calman (School Journal Level 3 2017); and
- “Keeping Promises: The Treaty Settlement Process” by Mark Derby (School Journal level 4 2017).
These two publications must also be reviewed, and removed from schools if they also contain misinformation of a similar nature.
- The Treaty and it Times - by Paul Moon and Peter Biggs
- A Compendium of Official Documents relative to Native Affairs in the South Island, Volume One - Victoria University
- The Treaty of Waitangi: How New Zealand Became a British Colony - by T. Lindsay Buick
- The Kingite Rebellion, by John Robinson
For commentaries on why our history is being politicized, see the following articles:
Taking Control Of The Nation’s Story by Chris Trotter