I know… TRM reports are supposed to be about fishing, but sometimes we have to cross over to the dark side. This is more about fishing for the truth… to provide some entertaining holiday reading.
Tongariro Skulduggery, described as a “mockumentary” history of Turangi, has an intriguing plot, initially based on two anglers discovering an ancient pre-Maori skull on the Tongariro River. During the holidays when many inmates relaxed with enough time to read the book, (there is a copy in every unit at TRM) this led to many questions. SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed is the Manager at TRM to deal with all inquiries) has been interrogated on whether Maori were indigenous or not?
This is a fundamental contentious issue in the Government’s recent He Puapua submission, originally prepared during 2019 at the request of the Labour-New Zealand First Government but not released to the public until after the 2020 election. SWMBO innocently entered the political debate due to several references to this indigenous issue in the plot.
Following are the first paras from the Tongariro Skulduggery mockumentary addressing this question of “whether Maori were indigenous or not”, on page 19 of Chapter 2:
“…… In 1970 the book – A Museum Underfoot – reported huge interest. Over 250,000 visitors had inspected their display of pre-Maori artifacts in NZ. These were discovered during the excavation of the tailrace immediately below the Tokaanu Power Station. Carbon dating assessed them at around 400 AD.” (i.e. about 800 years before Maori occupation) “Many human remains were removed to the cemetery on the hill close by, above the mineral baths at Tokaanu. This would make it the oldest cemetery in New Zealand. Several pre-Maori village sites were unearthed to discover extinct Moa bones and tools and cooking utensils at a ground level substantially below any other “digs”.
“In the 1960’s excavations deep in the tailrace, two bodies were found protected by upturned dugout canoes, cut in two halves, protecting the corpses… Fifty years ago Trevor Hosking believed the graves must have been for high ranking priests.”
He also wrote about other archaeological digs in the Taupo region where they discovered artifacts from earlier pre-Maori settlements, in particular in the caves under Whakamoenga Point and at Orakei Korako. Wherever there was a supply of hot artesian water he reported they could excavate signs of earlier pre-maori settlements. He called these original settlers the “Korako” people.
To determine the truth, two prominent Maori leaders considered the issue and are quoted in Tongariro Skulduggery, one current and one historical.
‘Maori Are Not Indigenous To Aotearoa” claims Ngapuhi Chief David Rankin
Interviewer “You recently voiced support for historians who claim that New Zealand was settled much earlier than commonly accepted. Are you merely supporting free speech and political incorrectness, or do you genuinely believe that there were other civilizations here in NZ before the arrival of Kupe circa 1250AD?”
David Rankin: “Let me just start off and say this, Maori are not the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand. There were many other races already living here long before Kupe arrived. I am his direct descendant and I know from our oral history passed down 44 generations. I believe this needs to be investigated further because every Maori community talks about Waitaha, Turehu and Patupaiarehe. This goes hand-in-hand with the other research.
As Maori, we have come to a time of maturity where we need to debate these issues. I want to get to a genuine consensus about this issue, although I think academics want it to disappear. If we start talking about it and investigating it, it’s an exciting opportunity to explore.
My ancestors like Kupe came to the Hokianga in search of other people. In the Waima ranges, there was a pipi shelter on the mountains, and the kuia used to talk about the fair skinned people up there. A lot of people identify as Paniora (translated as Spaniard), indicating that the Portuguese and Spanish washed up on ancient ships in Northland.
In 2002, I went to the Austronesian Leaders Conference in Taiwan and we discussed similarities with Taiwanese Aborigines. We traced our origins and the Maori and Polynesian connection to China. All the leaders such as myself and Matiu Rei, Aborigines, Solomon islanders, Rapa Nui and Hawaiians were all interested in early settlement theories.
There is a lot of writing about the whole ancestral link. Really, Maori didn’t navigate here, we came on a tidal drift. Te Tai Tokerau is actually the tidal drift from the Tokelau islands. When my ancestors arrived at the shores of Aotearoa, there were people here to greet them. The question is: who are those people? It goes hand-in- hand with our oral history.”
There are questions written by Ian Wishart, Noel Hilliam and others that need to be answered.”
In TRM’s “mockumentary”, David Rankin was also quoted as follows: “The Waitangi Tribunal has not really worked for Maori as it has made a handful very, very wealthy and not benefitted the iwis overall. The gravy train has to stop… Let’s be clear. The Tribunal exists to make lawyers and a few elite Maori very rich. It has divided and destroyed many of our communities. The sooner it is shut down, the better.”
In chapter 3 on DNA, page 27, the Mockumentary book quotes an excerpt written by Sir John Te Herekiekie Grace in his 1959 History of Tuwharetoa – the tribe that occupied the Taupo region.
Sir John Te Herekiekie Grace (Ngāti Tuwharetoa, 1905-1985) was one of many Māori leaders who emerged in the post-second world war 1950s era; he was an interpreter, community leader and high commissioner. Grace’s prominence increased in the 1960s in his many appointments including to the New Zealand Geographic Board, the National Historical Places Trust, the Māori Education Foundation and the Māori Purposes Fund Board. He worked for 15 years on researching the book Tuwharetoa: A History of the Māori People of the Taupo District, which explores the origins of the Ngāti Tuwharetoa iwi and covers the origins of the tribe from Hawai’i through to the mid-twentieth century. Grace’s extensive research and publication was and still is recognised as a tribal classic.
“Tuwharetoa was a tribe that originally settled on the Bay of Plenty coast and during the 16th century found its way into Taupo. It found these tribes in occupation of the district, but by gradual absorption, diplomatic alliances and aggressive warfare, finally took complete possession of the land. The original occupants of the land were a tribe of the fair skinned and flaxen haired people called Ngati Hotu. They lived by the lake in company with another fair skinned tribe, Ngati Ruakopiri. (The third tribe was Ngati Kurapoto.)”.
As the “Mockumentary” was aimed at anglers, they might be more persuaded by another quote from a famous 1972 fishing book – KAKAHI by Peter McIntyre, in Chapter 15 on page 108. He writes:
“The original people living in Kakahi were the Ngati-Hoti, a tribe of the Tangata Whenua, who had been discovered by the Arawas living around Taupo and Roto-Aira… It has been claimed that the Ngati-Hotu were pre-historic or pre-Maori people. Maori tradition says they were fair-skinned with reddish-golden hair. In describing them the great Maori chief Te Heu Heu Tukino used the words Kiriwhero, meaning reddish skin, and Urukehu, meaning reddish golden hair.”
Next, probably the most publicised claim to recover pre-Maori tribal land, was by Monica Matumua from Taumaranui, who argued her family history, her “whakapapa”, with the Treaty of Waitangi land claims department. She believes her tribe, Ngati Hotu, descended from the Patupaiarehe people who were referred to as fair-skinned fairy people of the King Country. She claimed there were only two people in her tribe that could still speak their language. It was nothing like Maori. Her tribe was originally discovered by a party of Wanganui Maori exploring upriver. They called for reinforcements to attack the settlement. There were many battles around 1450. These battles are also confirmed in other sources such as Peter McIntyre’s book Kakahi. Mangakeke Pa, 10 km from Taumaranui, had long been occupied by Ngati Hotu chief, Kakahi, before his people were driven away. Monica and her family also provide live evidence on youtube videos about the pre-Maori era – Skeletons in the Cupboard – Episode 1 – The Redheads.
We recognise that fishermen are renowned for tall stories of the one that got away. But considering all that information from different sources confirming the Ngati Hotu’s existence, it could not be ignored. TRM’s Mockumentary is supposed to be a blend of historic fact and fiction. It deliberately includes other similar contentious material as well to support the controversial fictitious plot. The more controversial story provides the base for a more interesting plot. We hope the above references should be sufficient evidence to convince any doubtful readers…