Christopher Leary: stories, photographs and some history lessons
First: A Very Biased History of New Zealand
Tasman's expedition made contact with the Maori of New Zealand's South Island in 1642. The Maori knew an invader when they saw one and sent out their war canoes. They killed four Dutch sailors, Maori casualties from the encounter unknown. Tasman called the place Murderers' Bay (marked by the middle anchor on the map above). If Maori war canoes had appeared uninvited in the roads of Rotterdam I'm sure the Dutch would have sent out their war canoes. When gold was discovered in the 1850s the site of the first meeting between Europeans and Maori became Golden Bay. NZ 1940.
It's easy to tell who the explorer is. He's neatly dressed, wears a tricorne hat and carries a neatly rolled map. The captain knows where he's going. You chart it, you own it. NZ 1940.
The Maori were not exploring, apparently they were just adrift. NZ 1940.
Natives and settlers sign a solemn treaty of understanding and brotherly love and so on. Getting the natives to mark a document recognising their loss of sovereignty is an important step in the colonising process. When the settlers inevitably ignored the treaty's provisions and provoked the natives into wars of resistance, the Maori could be deemed 'rebels' thus legitimising the nicking of yet more land. A common coloniser's trick. NZ 1940.
"Drop that or I fire!" From Maori and Settler, A Tale of the New Zealand War, G A Henty, UK, 1891.
A beautiful illustration but the weapons depicted are innapropriate. It seems Victorian illustrators could not imagine a native without a spear. The author, G. A. Henty (1832 - 1902), wrote 122 works of historical fiction, many in the glorious-Empire mode. The heroes are often two English pals who enjoy adventures in the colonies. There is always plenty of fighting to be done, be it on the Gangetic Plain, along the Nile or in the New Zealand bush. Jingoistic and racist primers for English schoolboys. The books are no longer in print but Henty's notions of white supremacy are with us still. UK, 1891.
"Mr. Atherton keeps the mouth of the defile." Defiles were often a problem for European colonisers. Natives the world over had the sneaky habit of setting ambushes in them. The Incas did it, the Apaches did it, while the Afghans were the acknowledged masters of the mountain-pass massacre. From Maori and Settler, A Tale of the New Zealand War, G A Henty, UK, 1891.
Real Maori warriors. From The New Zealand Wars 1820-72, Ian Knight, illustrated by Raffaele Ruggeri, 2013.
Real British warriors. From The New Zealand Wars 1820-72, Ian Knight, illustrated by Raffaele Ruggeri, 2013.
During the Empire period New Zealand shipped many millions of tons of sheep meat to England. Even today the old country receives 50,000 tonnes of delicious NZ wooly p.a. However, China now receives nearly 70,000 tonnes p.a. with consumption growing rapidly. There are 1.3 billion Chinese. For the first time ever New Zealand's sheep (population a mere 30 million) are threatened with extinction. NZ 1940.
Like the mutton business, New Zealand's dairy industry has been important since colonial times. The pasture for all these sheep and cows was acquired with the gallant assistance of Queen Victoria's redcoats (see above) and lumberjacks (see below). In 2017 the cows were worth NZ$13.4 billion to New Zealand's economy. NZ 1960.
"Wilfrid and the Grimstones find it hard work." The importance of the axe in the colonisation process cannot be overstated. From Maori and Settler, A Tale of the New Zealand War, G A Henty, UK, 1891.
This kiwi doesn't look too happy. Many of his relos are dead and he lives under constant threat from European invaders: stoats, dogs, ferrets, cats, motor vehicles and lumberjacks. NZ 1935.
All good in the end. Aeroplanes, ships, trains, livestock and a wilderness tamed. Happy nose rubbing all round. A 'Sanella-Bilder' from Australien Neuseeland, a collecting picture book published by Margarine-Union Hamburg. Germany mid-1950s.
Coming soon: A Very Biased History of England