It was very interesting for me to read the excerpt by Ranginui Walker on the pakeha entering into New Zealand. Previously, I had always thought that I had a solid, though basic, outline of New Zealand’s history. I knew about our role in WWI and WWII, the polio pandemic, Sir Ed and Everest etc etc. I realize now that this knowledge is not only very eurocentric but also paints European kiwis in a very pretty picture that did not include Maori. Reading about the pakeha entering New Zealand, I realize how great the impact was. While it seems basic, I hadn’t thought about how we brought infections and venereal diseases with us which killed thousands of Maori people. Not only this, but also alcohol, new foods and new ways of killing.
I think our western education system paints colonists as these white men on majestic boats that come in and save the savage people from their savage ways. However, they never really show how the colonized were doing previously. And with my small and basic level understanding of Maori principles, it becomes much more obvious how detrimental my own ancestors were. We did not understand the strong bonds within Maori communities that held each other accountable for their own actions and caused them to reconcile. Instead, we assumed we were ‘better’ and killed them through illness, warfare and lack of understanding.
Walker, Ranginui. “Tauiwi” Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou. Penguin, 1990. pp 79-81.