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Margaret Mutu

Margaret Mutu's perverted Treaty myth

In November 2007, following the police arrests of Tama Iti and other Tuhoe radicals, duly found to be in the illegal possession of arms, "The Guardian Weekly" of England sent reporter John Henley to find out what was going on in New Zealand. He found Margaret Mutu and she spun him a story thus, as reported.

'In article one of the treaty[ of Waitangi]'s English text, the Maori signatories apparently cede their "sovereignty" to the British crown. Williams's Maori version of the text, however, which was the one the chiefs signed, used a missionary neologism, "kawanatanga", to translate this concept - the term means something akin to "governorship". This was curious, because a pretty good translation of"sovereignty" already existed in Maori "tino rangitiratanga".'

In the first place, several chiefs who spoke at Waitangi and elsewhere, even some who initially opposed signing the treaty, made it quite clear that they understood that to do so would place them beneath the governor and thus even more so beneath the Queen. In a word, they would cede sovereignty. They signed.

Second, while 'kawanatanga' was indeed coined by the missionaries in the absence of any Maori word from a transliteration of 'governor' and the Maori suffix meaning 'ship', this did not dictate its meaning. Translation is not the same as derivation. 'Kawanatanga' meant 'sovereignty' and the chiefs knew it. Mutu's claim is perversion Number 1.

Third, 'tino rangitiratanga' was not as Mutu alleges 'a pretty good translation [which] already existed.' It was yet another 'missionary neologism' rarely used by any Maori at the time - perversion Number 2.
Williams, father and son, both excellent speakers of the Ngapuhi dialect and well versed in earlier attempts to assert Maori sovereignty rejected it as a suitable choice. Instead, they saw it as a suitable translation of 'possession', another ill-defined concept amongst Maoris, and used it in that sense in the treaty's second article.

Moreover, it never attained common usage subsequently, just one instance of 'tino rangatira' as a title of Queen Victoria being on record. 'Tino rangatiratanga' fell entirely out of use for many decades until its recent revival by part-Maori racist radicals. Mutu omits all this – perversion Number 3.

Mutu goes on: 'Even more curiously, article two expressly reserves "tino rangatiratanga", or full sovereign authority, over "their lands, forests, fisheries and everything they value" to the Maori chiefs.'

She starts with more sleight of hand: '"tino rangitiratanga" or full sovereign authority' and then switches to an English version:'over "their lands, forests, fisheries and everything they value"'.

But no! What article two actually said was: 'Ko te Kuini i Ingarani ka wakarite ka wakaae ki nga Rangatira ki nga hapu-ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tireni te tino rangatiratanga o ratou wenua o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa.' Her concealed switch is there to serve a false argument - perversion Number 4.

This Treaty text translates as 'The Queen of England arranges and agrees to give to the Chiefs, the Hapus and all the people of New Zealand, the full chieftainship of their lands, their settlements and their property. [1]

Notice the great differences – no fisheries, no forests in the real treaty, in Maori, not 'everything they value' but merely 'their property' - perversion Number 5.

Note too, that, very significantly, Mutu omits 'all the people of New Zealand' to whom this undertaking was made – and 'all' means 'all'. Perversion Number 6.

Moreover, what Mutu actually quotes here is a bogus 'treaty' concocted by Hobson's snobbish secretary, Freeman, to send to dignitaries overseas. Properly she should have quoted Hobson's final draft of 4th February 1840 which almost exactly states the real meaning of the Treaty. When shown both Hobson's final draft and the real Treaty on Maori in 2000, Ngapuhi Elder, Graham Rankin said that they meant exactly the same thing. Two strikes against Mutu there - perversions 7 & 8.

Mutu continues: 'the only reason the chiefs were sitting down with the representative of the British crown in the first place was because they had been obliged to asked [sic] for Britain's help in controlling the lawless, land-grabbing and violent band of European whalers, sealers and other settlers who had invaded their islands.'

This is a gross lie. Most chiefs, Hongi Hika amongst them, welcomed the settlers, rough as they might have been - though not, repeat not as violent as the Maori tribes themselves - for the material goods they provided and a market for the prostitution of their slave women. Perversion Number 9.

Again, no chief was 'obliged to' ask for help in controlling their 'invasion'. With many thousand warlike tribesmen at their call, the chiefs could have swept the settlers into the sea had they chosen to do so and to call their piecemeal arrival an 'invasion' is an abuse of words - perversions 10 & 11.

There were two real reasons why the chiefs sought the protection of the Queen. The first was their morbid fear of the French and the second the necessity to quell the murderous warfare amongst the tribes in which more than 30,000 of their people had been slaughtered by other tribesmen. Mutu mentions neither – perversions 12 & 13.

Then Mutu claims that 'it seems clear that what the Maori believed they were signing – what they did, in fact, sign – was a document granting the crown a strictly limited authority over the non-Maori settlers.' This mocks the truth. Hobson had made it quite plain to the chiefs that the Queen had no authority to do this 'out of her dominions'. Does she really delude herself into thinking that the representative of the Queen of the most powerful empire on earth at the time would make such an agreement with a band of petty warring chiefs? Perversion Number 14.

But she has even more to say: 'thanks to a subsequent barrage of questionable land purchases and wholesale confiscations of vast tracts of New Zealand, between 1840 and 1890, the Maori lost approximately 95% of their territories.' This glib statement is another travesty of the truth. Many chiefs were eager sellers of land worthless to them; they frequently made sales of land to which they were not entitled. Settlers sometimes made several purchases of the same area of land to multiple claimants, four times for some in Taranaki. 'Questionable land purchases' might equally be termed 'questionable land selling'. Equating this with loss of their territories is an abuse of words - perversion number 15.

Moreover, the confiscations were not 'wholesale'. They were from tribes which had rebelled, thus dishonouring the Treaty of Waitangi. This was a well-understood Maori custom; they had been warned in advance that it would occur; the land was taken to pay in part the considerable cost of suppressing the rebellions; care was taken to ensure that the rebels were left with at least enough land to live on and some of it was returned to them. So what do they, or Mutu have to grizzle about? This makes perversion Number 16.

To continue, Mutu says 'over roughly the same period [1840 to 1890] the Maori population had shrunk from 100,000 to about 36,000', without offering any explanation for it. The truth is that of a Maori population in 1800 of 137,500, 71,600 remained in 1840 and around 42,000 in 1890. This colossal reduction is entirely accounted for by the killing by Maoris themselves of much of their breeding stock in the inter-tribal slaughter of 1807-1837 [2], a major reason for farseeing chiefs seeking the Queen's protection and cessation of the carnage. Mutu's inaccurate figures and the false implications in her statement are perversions Numbers 17& 18.

There is more in the same vein in the 'Guardian Weekly' article by a reporter who swallowed this tale by Mutu and others and made no attempt whatever to present a balanced, let alone an accurate report. No genuine paper of quality would have printed such gross propaganda..

It reveals Mutu as an outspoken racist – 18 perversions of the truth in one interview!

She is the woman of whom David Skegg, immediate past President of the Royal Society of New Zealand informed me: 'Professor Mutu received the 2015 Pou Aronui award from the Royal Society of New Zealand. Nominations for that award are considered by an independent panel of leading scholars, so I can assure you that her scholarly work was assessed to be of a very high standard.' [3]

Sadly all this reveals is only that 'leading scholars' in New Zealand have a very poor idea of what is 'scholarly work...of a very high standard.' Whoever they are and whatever they do, they have revealed that their opinion is worthless.
Bruce Moon
30th November 2015

1 Translation by T.E. Young of the Native Department, 1869.

2 Dr John Robinson's most recent refined values, personal communication,29 November 2015.
3 Professor David Skegg's email to me, 24th November 2105