A comment on an aspect of women in old NZ and how it might impinge on modern protocol on the Maori marae and society.

An old male Maori once said, " For land and women we would fight to the death". This concept, not unique to Maori by any stretch of the imagination, is nonetheless relevant and may explain modern attitudes.

In any ancient primitive society a shortage of women for breeding was always cause to raid and fight people who had women. Males from the conquered were always killed, or sometimes castrated and used as slaves, if they didn't escape capture.

One age old problem with captured women was that they could be vengeful, try to escape, poison you if they prepared your food, teach their offspring "their" peoples history and customs and so reduce the effectiveness of breeding with them. So the first cross breedings with them often ended with infanticide for the excess male offspring. A canibalistic food source perhaps while very young. Or alternatively, male youths were removed before or at puberty to places of greatest danger and conflict, where death or honour on "our" behalf would prove their worth as acceptable to the "new" tribal allegiance. Another problem was the loss of women during childbearing and birth. Hence the need to constantly replenish the supply.

Women until integrated by affection and love, had to be rigidly controlled. Definately no rights of speech or priviledge were given to them in matters of tribal importance. Their obedience had to be enforced, so harsh treatment and attitudes to women would have been the norm. Only in enlightened and peaceful societies where equal numbers of the sexes existed would the status of women improve to a "civilised" degree.

These generalities apply world wide to all early tribal societies. The stealing of women still occurs and many societies have not shed the old attitudes towards women. Maori women still (and are not the only ones) suffer from low status because of ingrained primitive male attitudes to their status.

If we step to the marae and womens rights to speak, we could not be far off the point if it were stated that this lack of rights would derive from the previous captive status of women. Women gained by stealing, and capture would not have status. Even those who survived long enough to be considered a reliable tribe member would not necessarily be wholly trustworthy. At least while any of their original people (kith and kin) were still alive. And it wouldn't make any difference if her kin were another tribe or another race. The only foolproof way would be to annihilate the other people or tribe, so that the women would loose hope of ever regaining their freedom or kindred lifestyle. The rigidity in some tribes regarding the speaking status of women suggests their tribal origins started with only captured and enslaved women. One report on DNA testing of women claimed to be full Maori indicated that only 70 women formed the original pool of breeding for Maoris in NZ. What did this DNA testing expose in full? Was the result based on selective opinion with the, "If you're looking for something, you can find it?" approach. What else did the DNA tests expose that was overlooked inadvertantly or by design?

Once hope of ever regaining their freedom or kindred lifestyle was lost, anything women taught their offspring about their "old" people and ways would be of little concern. They could never be regained, unless there was another invasion or wave of immigration of their original kind. Suppression of such knowledge would eventually obscure it completely. Descendants with throw back features would be treated abominally until everyone would be ashamed of anything that indicated descent from the "other" peoples.

The initial stance was therefore of eradication, and Maoris, as they gained notoriety and control sought vengefully to eliminate all other peoples from NZ. Death for all males, enslavement and breeding for females. The co-operative females would survive and the unco-operative would be so mistreated that they would eventually perish having hopefully produced some productive offspring. A harsh reality. A terrible existence. Definately not one the modern European has imposed on New Zealand! In fact modern history in NZ has been particularly benevolent and fair and that is in no small way due to the overall Christian ethics and beliefs of the European settlers of the 1800s and early 1900's. Certainly there were unpleasant incidents and inequities but these pale in comparison to the genocide perpetrated by Maori on the pre-Maori peoples including Moriori. Whether these people were Early polynesian, Celtic, Iberian or whatever was of no relevance. The overriding concern was control of land and ownership of women for breeding.

Once there was the fair skinned red haired and sometimes blue eyed folk that were the tangata whenua prior to Maori. These peoples were Ngati Hotu, Ngati Ruakopiri, Ngati Kahupungapunga, who held lands around the Taupo and upper Waikato regions, after being driven inland from coastal areas. There were also the Turehu, Patupaiarehe, Moriori, Waitaha and others. Today many are assigned to mythology (even though acknowledged as actual tribes in Waitangi Tribunal documented history) or are still derided and picked on, or else as individuals they carefully avoid mentioning their descent from enslaved or conquered tribes. For the pale individuals their ancient roots are now ably obscured by the assumption they are merely offspring from modern Europeans - which saves them from the ignominity of being descended from the pale enslaved or conquered tribes. Perhaps the truth is they are the real descendants of the indigenous people of the land, tangata whenua! This would mean their status could or should take precedent over other Maori. Unlikely, because power and money override all racial considerations.

And that is of course is what is happening today. Some Maoris and some European New Zealanders are in collusion with power, position, status and money. New Zealand is their plaything and the average person, of either Maori or European background, is contemptuously treated as no more than a leaf on a tree, their tree! Maybe this should read; merely a pine needle on a pine tree, Whose pine tree?!

On another vein, microchondial DNA traced through the womens lineage could be said to have the last word. If the Maori culture was shall we say "borrowed" from the real tangata whenua people, many of whom were urukehu (naturally red haired and fair skinned, and sometimes blonde and blue eyed), the growing paleness of all Maori might simply indicate that the culture is being regained by genetic DNA based changes. The more Maori male take modern Europoid females as partners and breed with them, and of course as Europoid males do similarly, the more the DNA will have noticeable effect. Those folk that vociferously claim their Maori heritage and customs and behave in a derisive or racist maner to the Pakeha Europoid, had better be aware of the fragility of their position. No action other their continuing to breed is necessary for the original tangata whenua to reclaim their lands and their culture. The paler the modern Maori becomes, the more rapidly the women of the past shall reclaim their lands and perhaps some of their customs from the conquering cannibalistic warrior Maori who tore them from their loved ones. The trend is irreversible as there is hardly any Maori now alive in NZ that doesn't have some Europoid bloodlines. Conversely, there are few European familes descended from early settlers that don't have some Maori bloodlines (or are some of them really bloodlines from the original tangata whenua tribes such as Ngati Hotu and others?).

So in the end the women may have the final say. But will they be aware of it? Is this what is meant by "the meek shall inherit the earth"? Mind you, some women are definately NOT meek!

There is an early photograph within the articles on www.celticnz.co.nz/hotmail6.htm that shows "native / Maori" women with distinctly Europoid/Caucasian features and skin pigmentation. Ngati Hotu women? Patupaiarehe? Just what did the DNA survey of Maori women really provide? Was it a general sample of all types of Maori women or was it an exclusive sample of only the warrior Maori type of woman?

Copyright 1999
Mitchell
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