The Great Divide: The Story of New Zealand and Its Treaty

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Howling at the Moon, 2012 - History - 288 pages
The Great Divide, working from the original documents from 200 years ago, directly challenges the findings of books like Michael King's Penguin History of New Zealand or Claudia Orange's Treaty of Waitangi, and in doing so offers a fresh new perspective on an issue affecting every single New Zealander. Among the book's findings, all fully supported with documentary citations: The scientifically-documented discovery of stone tools five metres underground, beneath ancient forests in the South Island and beneath volcanic lava flows in Auckland city, shows New Zealand may have been settled by humans between two thousand years ago and 14,000 years ago - overturning accepted modern theories about a 1280AD migration. A massive comet strike that left a 20km wide crater with walls 150m high in the seabed near Stewart Island in the mid 1400s created a 220 metre high tsunami (twenty times higher than the Japanese one) that swept up the NZ coast, wiping out evidence of early human settlement, and is the most likely culprit in mass species extinction of moa, eagles and other animals around the same time. The early humans left South Island cave paintings featuring what scientists described as "crocodiles and pythons" - animals not known in Polynesia.Pre-European society was dominated by war, infanticide and cannibalism, which was the context directly leading up to the Treaty of Waitangi . That, contrary to the claims of the Waitangi Tribunal and modern Treaty scholarship, Maori at Waitangi realised they were surrendering 'absolute sovereignty' to the British and understood what it meant . That Maori did not intend for a dual power structure featuring "two treaty partners", but instead were openly calling for "one law, the Queen's law, for all" . That Maori signed at Waitangi precisely to put an end to war and cannibalism, and for the purposes of integration into British society. That the Treaty of Waitangi as we currently debate it (1840 version) was actually rendered legally obsolete by an 1860 meeting between the Government and 200 Maori chiefs in Auckland, raising questions about the constitutional status of the Treaty as people currently understand it. That the much-publicised Taranaki land disputes that set off the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s were not properly understood by the Waitangi Tribunal, which has made major precedent-setting rulings in a range of cases based on a flawed analysis of the evidence. The book finds that Pakeha and Maori both bear some responsibility for the breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, but that while many of the cash settlements are justifiable, the legal decisions justifying them are wrong in fact and law, and if carried through into a new constitution as is currently planned, will cripple New Zealand by turning the Treaty of Waitangi into something it was never intended to be - almost the exact opposite of what Maori who signed it were seeking. As the introduction to the book notes: "It is the experiences of real people, on all sides of an event, that define how the event is seen in history. The story of New Zealand is not some dry, dusty compendium of old parchments written by a collection of fusty academics; it is a story of life and death, of triumph and tragedy, of two peoples meeting for the first time in history - with wildly different backgrounds - struggling to find balance, honour and a new way forward. "It is the story of change, of how things never stay the same no matter how much we wish them to, and how 'adapt or die' is the overarching driving force that has filled humanity's sails since the beginning of time. It was the wind of change that drove the first humans from the warmth of the tropical Pacific down to temperate New Zealand, and the same wind that blew European explorers onto our shores either hundreds of - or as little as 300 depending on who you believe - years later. "History was not forged by the politically correct. It was forged by people with strong beliefs, strong prejudices and all the passion you'd expect from people at the earth's last civilisational frontier. Maori or Pakeha, the making of New Zealand is a story we can all be proud of, something we can and should celebrate. "It's our story." The Great Divide is likely to be one of the most talked-about books this year.

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