The New Zealand War: Divide and Conquer

The New Zealand War Part 4: Taranaki Prophets

Directed by Tainui Stephens (2017)

Film Review

Part 4 mainly concerns the formation of the New Zealand Armed Constabulary (colonial troops assisted by Irish and Australian volunteers) after the British began withdrawing their forces in 1865; the formation of the Pai Mārire* movement in Taranaki in 1863; and the increasing involvement of kūpapa (Māori warriors) in the Armed Constabulary as British regiments departed.

This segment depicts the growing divide between Māori determined to fight British land confiscation and those who benefited from lucrative trade with the settlers. The motivation of the kūpapa was complex. First they tended not to see other Māori iwi as their own people. Secondly they demanded (and received) vastly better pay than European soldiers. Thirdly they were promised four seats in the New Zealand parliament in return for their military service.**

While the kūpapa were extremely valuable in several campaigns, they believed they were fighting the Pai Marire movement on their own behalf and balked at taking orders from European officers.

The fourth episode mainly covers battles in Taranaki and Whanganui triggered by a new government policy of “creeping confiscation.” Beginning in 1865, the New Zealand government arbitrarily declared vast tracks of Taranaki land “confiscated.” In one of the largest battles, Tītokowaru and 80 warriors defeated 400 New Zealand troops led by Prussian mercenary Gustavus von Tempsky to win back all the confiscated Taranaki land.

Following von Tempsky’s death in the battle of Te Ngutu o te Manu, Colonel George Whitmore rebuilt the colonial forces to march through south Taranaki burning all Māori land and reclaiming it for the government.

Tarananki resistance to government occupation collapsed at this point when Tītokowaru’s warriors abandoned him. Why they did so is a matter of conjecture – the prevailing theory blames an illicit affair he was having with another chieftain’s daughter.


*The Pai Mārire movement was a syncretic Māori religion or cult founded in Taranaki by the prophet Te Ua Haumēne. Opposing British land confiscation, it flourished in the North Island from about 1863 to 1874,

**This was during a period when Māori still vastly outnumbered the settler population.

 

 

 

 

 

New Zealand Wars: The Failed British Effort to Destroy the Maori King Movement

The New Zealand Wars Part 3: The Invasion of Waikato

Directed by Tainui Stephens (2017)

Film Review

Part 3 begins by describing an 1863 audience between 16 Mäori entertainers and Queen Victoria – in which she promises to let them keep their land. This meeting occurs, ironically, just 12 days after British soldiers invade Waikato.

By now Governor Grey’s main objective is to kill the Mäori king and destroy the King movement. Although iwi continue to be divided whether to fight or trade with the British, there is now sufficient unity under the King movement to assemble a force of 4,000 warriors.

By lying to British authorities about a fictitious Mäori plot to invade Auckland, Grey requests and receives several armored battleships with canon and thousands of additional troops.

Again vastly outnumbered (by 18,000 British troops), Mäori lose the Waikato War due to a strategic blunder – failing to allow for an escape route from Ōrākau pā. Although they successfully repulse all British attacks, they eventually run out of water and ammunition and leave the pā, facing overwhelming British fire power.

Following their victory at Ōrākau, British troops proceed to occupy one million acres of Mäori land in the Waikato. Over several decades, settlers convert it to dairy farms.

The British were unsuccessful in their goal of destroying the Māori King movement, which persists to the present day.

 

 

 

Maori Land Wars: Genocide New Zealand Style

New Zealand Wars: Part 2 Kings and Empire

Directed by Tainui Stephens (2017)

Film Review

Part 2 of this series concerns the Wairau Valley War (1843), the Wellington War (1846), and the first Taranaki land war (1860-61).

The Wairau Valley War started when British settlers in the Marlborough Sounds (top of South Island) tried to farm land that still belong to Māori. After local iwi (tribes) drove out the land surveyors and set fire to their huts, 50 armed settlers marched to the Wairau Valley to “teach Māori” a lesson. Te Rauparaha, aka the Emperor of the South,* organized iwi warriors on both sides of Cook Strait to repel them.

Responding to growing fears Te Rauparaha would also attack unauthorized settlers, the newly appointed governor general George Grey marched British troops into in the Hutt Valley northwest of Wellington. Local Māori responded by killing the settlers who had illegally taken their land. During this fighting, Te Rauparaha was captured and imprisoned without trial, and settlers seized his former Māori.

The last segment of Part 2 is the most interesting to me as it concerns the first Taranaki War (I live in Taranaki). By 1858, there was a split in the North Island’s indigenous population.Two-thirds of Taranaki iwi supported the growing Māori king movement, formed with the explicit intention of solidifying Māori control over their own lands. One-third wished to sell land to the British for the purpose of facilitating trade.

The Taranaki land wars started when Te Teira sold the British communally-owned land in Waitara, and Wiremu Kingi and his followers turned settlers back when they tried to claim possession.

The major battle of the first Taranaki War took place at Puketekauere pā near Waitara in 1861. Although local Te Atiawa warriors were reinforced by other iwi belonging to the Māori king movement, they were still vastly outnumbered by British troops.

This first battle ended in a stalemate. In the truce that followed, Māori reclaimed more than £200,000 worth of property from New Plymouth settlers. However Wiremu Kingi lost control of coastal Waitara, which the British wanted for a seaport.


*Te Rauparaha held sway over iwi extending from Kaipiti Island near Wellington to modern day Nelson in the South Island. This would be the first attempt of iwi to consolidate their military efforts to retain control of their land.

 

 

The War Britain Lost

The New Zealand Wars: Part 1 The War Britain Lost

Directed by Tainui Stephens (2017)

Film Review

The New Zealand Wars (between British settlers and Māori) occurred between 1843-72. Until the modern indigenous rights movement, which started in the 1970s, it was rare for our public schools to teach the history of these wars. In 2019, the NZ Parliament approved legislation requiring the compulsory teaching of this history in public schools by 2022.

This film is the first in a five-part series exploring the British-Māori wars. Part 1 covers early British settlement of New Zealand and the first war in 1845-46. The defeat inflicted on colonial forces was extremely quite a shock for the British, especially as they outnumbered the Māori (6 to 1), who (unlike the British) had rifles but no heavy artillery (eg canons and mortars).

The trigger for the 1845 war was the repeated destruction of the British flagpole overlooking Kororāreka (Russell) by the Māori chief Hōne Heke. The latter believed British forces were in violation of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, which guarantees Māori full sovereignty over their own lands and people.

The victory of warriors led by Heke and his ally Kawiti is largely attributed to their superior military strategy. This involved a new form of fortified pā, a combination of deep trenches and primitive bunkers, in which flexible wooden fencing plays a similar role to the barbed wire used in World War I trenches, as well as their skill in drawing colonial forces into an ambush.

This new form of reinforced pā is viewed by military historians as the inspiration for modern trench warfare. It would spread to iwi (tribes) across the entire North Island for use in their own engagements with the British.

In 1846, colonists were forced to sign a truce with Heke and Kawati. They gained no new land in the three year war. The British flagpole would not be re-erected during Heke’s lifetime.

New Zealand: Spying for NSA

The Fifth Eye

Directed by Errol Wright and Abi King-Jones (2015)

Film Review

This documentary traces the history of New Zealand involvement in the US-run Five Eyes spy network, first brought to public awareness by the 2008 arrest of three Ploughshares activists for criminal trespass the Waihopai Spy Base near Blenheim New Zealand.

According to investigative journalist and author Nicky Hager (featured in the film), New Zealand built the spy base in the mid-eighties after getting kicked out of the ANZUS (Australia-New Zealand-US) security network for declaring New Zealand a nuclear-free zone. This declaration effectively banned all US naval vessels from our ports – as the US refuses to disclose whether specific ships are propelled by nuclear power.

Hager reveals that Five Eyes spy is responsible for Echelon, a project that collects data from all phone calls and electronic communications for the US National Security Agency (NSA). The other agencies involved are the Canadian Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), the UK Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), and the New Zealand GCSB. GCSB-NZ is responsible for monitoring all phone and electronic traffic in the Asia-Pacific region.

Despite government reassurances that the GCSB didn’t spy on New Zealanders, in 2012 we learned they had spied on NZ resident Kim Dotcom for the 2012 swat team assault on his home. His crime: violation of US copyright law. Through the Official Information Act, we learned they had also spied on 88 other Kiwis the government declined to identify.

In 2010 the Ploughshares 3 presented a greater good defense and were acquitted. Their defense teams successfully persuaded the jury that the data collected at Waihopai was being used to target innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan for drone and cruise missile strikes or for arrest and torture.

In 2011, the government filed a civil lawsuit against the Ploughshares 3 for $1.2 million, which the high court granted via summary judgment (ie without trial). In 2013, their right to trial was denied by the Court of Appeal. The same year the National government, under John Key, passed (despite massive public opposition) the GSCB Amendment Bill. The latter granted the spy agency the right to spy on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

In 2014 the Waihopai activists appealed to the NZ Supreme Court, only for the government to drop their damage claim – owing to the extreme controversy arising over GCSB spying on Kiwi investigative journalist Jon Stephenson.

The high point of the film is the 2014 Internet Party conference in Auckland featuring Glenn Greenwald and (via video link) Edward Snowden that exposed the true extent of the GCSB in Fives Eyes spying on all New Zealanders’ phone and Internet activity.


*Dotcom is still waiting on a New Zealand Supreme Court decision whether he can be extradited to the US: Kim Dotcom Supreme Court Appeal

**Stephenson was reporting on the the role of NZ troops in handing over Afghan civilians to known torture unit,

The documentary can be viewed free for the next 11 days on the Maori TV website:

https://www.maoritelevision.com/docos/5th-eye

Hidden History: French Nuclear Testing in the Pacific

They Went to Stop the Bomb

Francois Reinhardt (2017)

Film Review

This documentary concerns a 1973 protest voyage from New Zealand to the Pacific atoll Mururoa. The aim was to prevent the French from continuing their atmospheric nuclear tests there. The tests, begun in 1966, contaminated the drinking water and crops of the Tureia 50 kilometers (0.62 miles) away. Large numbers of Tureia residents developed leukemia, thyroid and other cancers and experiences miscarriages and birth defects. Strontium 90 from the Pacific testing was detected as far away as Peru, Africa and New Zealand.

The films begins by exploring the birth of antinuclear movement in France and Tahiti (the military base for Pacific nuclear testing). Without approval from the French parliament, the tests (46 between 1966-74) were technically illegal. Although de Gaulle’s government publicly denied the tests were harmful to human health, defense documents declassified in 2013 revealed they were secretly monitoring the blood of Tureia residents for  radionucleotides and corresponding health problems.

The French government also engaged in “psych-ops” against Tahitian activists opposed to the testing. In addition to using the French and Tahitian media, they also framed and and imprisoned the former Tahitian president on false corruption charges.

The protest flotilla was led by the Fri, which means freedom in Danish. It was crewed by 13 antinuclear activists from the US, France, the Netherlands, Britain and New Zealand.

The Fri never reached Mururoa because the French Navy illegally boarded the vessel in international waters, arresting the activists and imprisoning them in Tahiti. In a symbolic act In a symbolic act of support, the New Zealand government send its Navy frigate HMNZS Otago into the test zone area. The latter broke the news of the activists’ arrest to the world press.

Beginning in 1977, Greenpeace undertook similar protest voyages to French Polynesia in the Rainbow Warrior. In 1985, French spies planted explosives on the Greenpeace vessel in Auckland Harbor and sunk it (see French Spy Who Helped Bomb Rainbow Warrior Tracked Down 32 Years Later). Although the French temporarily halted subsequent nuclear testing, they provoked international outrage in 1995 with another series of atmospheric tests.*

Residents of Tureia (interviewed in the film) are still waiting for their radiation-related health problems to be acknowledged and addressed by the French government.


*The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which bans atmospheric nuclear testing, was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1996. Technically it has not entered into force, as eight countries refuse to ratify it (US, China, North Korea, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel and Iran).

Although the film can’t be embedded, it can be viewed free at the Maori TV website: They Went to Stop the Bomb

White Supremacy and Islamophobia in New Zealand

New Zealand’s Dark Days

Al Jazeera (2019)

Film Review

This documentary examines New Zealand’s inglorious history of Islamophobia – something most Kiwis don’t want to talk about. A Somali migrant who works with refugees talks about battling threats from white supremacist skinheads his whole life. Christchurch, especially, is known as a hotbed of white supremacy. Last October, local Muslims found white supremacist graffiti at one of the mosques that was subsequently attacked.

Many in the Muslim community claim the New Zealand police has been totally dismissive of these threats – that they have been too busy monitoring Muslim migrants for possible terrorist ties to monitor white supremacists. Former US intelligence analyst (and 20-year resident of New Zealand) Paul Buchanan agrees. He’s skeptical the Christchurch shooter acted alone, given the large numbers of white supremacists who followed the livestream of the massacres – both in New Zealand and overseas.

Buchanan is also concerned about Islamophobic statements by Destiny Church founder Brian Tamaki. The latter leads a Pentecostal sect with 10,000 followers in New Zealand and Australia. Tamaki has always maintained that Jesus is the only true God, that refugees who settle in New Zealand should accept this country’s religion. In 2005, he called the New Zealand Parliament “evil” for allowing an MP to take their oath of office on a Koran. He was also highly critical of the National Radio decision to play the Muslim call to prayer to honor slain Christchurch victims.

The film also reveals that two complaints were made to New Zealand police about the Dunedin gun club the Christchurch shooter attended. Visitors to the gun club were concerned about members wearing camouflage (equated here with militia activity), talk about NZ defense forces needing to shoot Muslim terrorists in the street, and references to New Zealand’s 1990 mass shooting at Aramoana (1990)

In both case, the police dismissed the complaints without acting on them.