New Zealand is full of New Zealanders. It’s not as easy as it sounds. There are the Maori, the first immigrated people or the early settlers. They arrived from Polynesia, around the year 950. Second, there are white people – called “Pakehas.” They turned up in New Zealand around 900 years later.
After Captain James Cook in 1769 and 1770 cartography the coastline of New Zealand including Cook Street, the colonization began by the pioneers. Sealers, loggers, and of course the first settlers. Between the Pakehas and the Maoris developed a busy trade. The Maori exchanged Meat, vegetables and love services for tools, weapons and, of course, alcohol.
The Waitangi Treaty
In 1837, the Waitangi Treaty was finally signed, subordinating New Zealand to the British Crown. With this contract, all Maori became British citizens, and the crown got the right of sale on the land.
The Maori, who were not familiar with land ownership, seemed to have no idea what a land sale was, despite the excellent interpreter. They thought that they only lent the land to the whites. And so the land in Maori possession became less over the years. Some Maori saw through the dishonest game of the growing White settlers and appointed the leader of the Waikato tribe as their king. They demanded their king the same rights as those of the British governor. Furthermore, they wanted their own administration and their own police. An own flag was also designed very quickly. And so it was over with the land sales. Theoretically.
The problem was that neither the settlers nor the colonial administration showed interest in the Maori king. So it was finally in 1860 to open war, which soon covered the whole country. Four years later, at the Battle of Oroho, British troops defeated several thousands of Maori warriors, and the rebellion ended.
Confiscation of land as war compensation was the consequence and soon the Maoris remained only that country for which the whites did not care. At that time, the downfall of the Maori culture was predicted. Not even close.
240 years later we arrived in New Zealand and met the first Maoris. Much has happened in recent decades to make up for “injustice.” The Maori heritage and culture are promoted and marketed, and many tribes have won their “right” and land has been returned to the Maoris. Many names have been renamed in the Maori language. So you look for the Mt. Egmont on maps today in vain, now called Mount Taranaki. The famous Mt. Cook received a double name Aoraki / Mt. Cook. Which does not change the fact that here two peoples live side by side. No trace for “we are all New Zealanders”.
The opinions about the Maori we encountered
We talked to many Pakehas and their opinions. Maoris are lazy and useless and mostly drunk; they have no “keenness”. Some said that Maoris had a privileged position and that many state aids benefited only the Maori. Others said that it was okay, after all, “we” took the land away from them. And there were those who did not want to hear about the past because they were not the perpetrators. What we almost heard from everyone was something like “one of my best friends is Maori.” In most cases, this blanket statement sounded like an apology for one’s own opinion.
Unfortunately, we never had a chance to talk to Maoris about this topic. The only representatives of the Maoris we met were as described by the Pakehas. We had mostly bad experiences.
Here’s a scene from Lake Taupo:
The sun had reached its peak, and I was sitting at the blue Lake Taupo, the largest lake in the North Island. Some vehicles approached the huge campsite at a fast pace. The cars lined up on the access road, blocking about half a dozen campers. A Maoris jumped out of each of the vehicles with blankets, a lot of beer and a lot of techno music coming from an ancient ghettoblaster with a massive bang. To my left and right, the sheets were thrown together with the gett-blaster, which immediately tore me out of my writing stream with its loud noise.
A few beer bottles were emptied in the first few minutes and thrown loudly into the lake; then the ball was played. I seemed to be the net because they threw the ball over my head. An unusually full-bodied Maori stood with crossed arms and swollen breasts about two meters away from me and started me with his learned “evil eye”. I smiled at him, which visibly disturbed him. When the ball accidentally struck beside me, and I understood the hint and left the beach.
Unfortunately, we experienced a lot of this stuff at the North Island of New Zealand.
Wherever the truth of the New Zealand coexistence of the peoples lives, I can say with certainty that there is no such thing as a “we”.