Archive for category Colonisation

The empire sneaks back

I was watching Winston Peters announcing from the London meeting of the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers that Britain was now keen to resurrect the glory of the British Empire by putting together a trade deal between we proud members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Foreign Ministers of the Commonwealth

Pub quiz night: name the 52 members, outside Britain, of the Commonwealth of Nations. Did you get to 10? If so I think you are well above average. Did you get Lesotho, Tuvalu, St Kitts & Nevis, Belize, Malawi, or Swaziland? This Commonwealth has 19 African members, 7 Asian, 13 Caribbean & American, 3 European and 11 from the South Pacific.

The total GDP of these 53 nations is $US11 trillion which sounds impressive until you note that China on its own has $US12 trillion GDP and the USA has nearly $US20 trillion GDP. But if there is anything ‘common’ about them it is certainly not ‘wealth’.  The top 4 countries in the group (UK, India, Canada and Australia) account for 75% of the total group’s GDP. The top 11 (where New Zealand is #11) account for 95% of the whole group’s GDP. So 42 countries out of 53 (79%) bring in only 5% of the total group’s GDP. The Commonwealth includes the three poorest countries on the planet. In the same pub quiz, name them! Answer = Kirobati, Nauru and Tuvulu. Bet you didn’t know any of them.

This Commonwealth alliance that today has little practical reason for being, has also bugger all chance of ever being a trading bloc especially when you consider that Commonwealth members Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia already belong to TPP bloc; India and South Africa already belong to BRICS; Cyprus and Malta are in the EU and the African nations have their own trading blocs.

We, the Commonwealth of Nations, are the largely-abandoned urchins of the British Empire who were left to fend for ourselves after Lady Britannia decided to go back to her Eurochums’ social circuit after their two little W.W.s were all forgiven and forgotten. Yes we do meet up for family games every few years, and play a bit of cricket together which is jolly good fun, but thats as far as it goes. If we ever go to visit mother England we will stand and wait in the foreigners’ queue while the Germans are welcomed through lovers’ lane.

But now there are spats in the Euro love nest, mainly about Angela the Hun letting riffraff in through the back door (not intended as a euphemism, but with Germans who knows?). But Britain is committed to leaving the European Union and so, whatever eventually happens with Brexit negotiations, Britain will be short of a few quid for a while and that is likely to make the rabble a bit restless and looking to bring back the guillotines. And like many an absentee parent finding themselves hung over, short of a few quid and debt collectors knocking, she remembers the forgotten family and reminds them that we are still family. So last week the Queen called a meeting of all the heads of their global families, perfectly timed right after the fun of the family games in Australia and immediately before her grand birthday party to which they had all been invited. She told them that she thought that we, as the family of the British Empire, might like to setup some sort of a trade thingy between us and, since she was getting a bit wobbly on her pins, perhaps we should put Charles in charge of it all. Did she really mean all 53 members of the Commonwealth? That would be an enormously daunting prospect for a trade deal, particularly given the disparity in populations, locations, cultures and economies. The EU only has 28 members and our Trans Pacific Partnership has twelve members. Is Charles the man with the experience and charisma to pull together the biggest trading bloc on earth? Especially given that 79% of the members account for just 5% of the wealth.

But perhaps I am being cynical? Maybe its not all about the size of your GDP. One thing Charles would bring to the leadership of any trade alliance would be a focus on ecological sustainability. You have to admit he was all over this ecological crisis way back when we could still swim in our rivers and drink tap water. And he has approached the challenges in a far more practical way than all the attention-seekers floating around in little boats with banners. Since buying Highgrove, a 15-acre estate, in 1980, the Prince has personally overseen its transformation from pasture land to what is now regarded as one of the most important gardens in the UK. His rejection of chemical pesticides and promotion of species once considered weeds attracted criticism in the 1980s long before the boom in organic gardening. His estate even includes an innovative sewage treatment system, using only reed beds to cleanse waste water from the house. The reed-bed waste system is an artificial wetland that converts sewage back to clean water, while allowing the solid matter to be returned to the soil in the form of manure. He has even built a biogas plant in Dorset to supply gas from food waste to 56,000 homes.

Is the Prince of Wales now girthed, girded and ready to lead the CommonWealth, re-named as the CommonHealth of Nations, in a global eco-war reminiscent of the Crusades? Fifty three disparate nations united under the banner of King Charles the greenheart, re-inventing trade within the commonwealth with a war cry of ‘sustainability before profit’. Is this the Royal intent?

I would love to think so, but I am quite sure the tragic reality is that Britain really does think they can resurrect the old bones of their 19th century trade Empire, or at least the ten biggest of us, and have us committed to all buying British solely to help balance their books after Brexit. In the words of Daryll Kerrigan, Australia’s only philosopher, “tell ’em they’re dreamin’.”


It’s a black & white world

One thing leads to another when the archeologists start lifting stones; and so it is when I start writing blogs about their lifting of stones. For, in my last weblog, considering the evidence for an advanced technological civilisation in existence 13,000 years ago brought me back to Genesis 6 and the “sons of god married daughters of man’ mystery. As Genesis 6 said, the offspring of these unions between divine sons of God and human daughters of man, were the heroes of ancient times. Our own history has a presumption of hereditary leadership based on bloodline. Until very recently it was in legislation that the emperor of Japan was a direct bloodline descendant of the gods. In classical Greece the heroes and leaders were descendants of demi-gods; Achilles, one of the classical Greek military heroes, was son of the goddess Thetis and King Peleus. Egypt also has this blood-line link between ancient pharaohs and the Gods and demi-gods. The question raised is who or what were these gods, or that God, or that divine trinity of three Gods in one, who created not only homo Sapiens but also the aristocracy of homo Sapiens who were divinely gifted with the role of rulership over lesser homo sapiens? Or were they just a superior variant of Homo sapiens, simply evolved through the mysteries of nature and the cosmos as a ruling sub category of our species?

Icelandic manThe oldest evidence of homo Sapiens was found in the icy lands of northern Europe, in a cave in Siberia. These icy northern European lands are where the very tall, warrior-like, blond haired, blue eyed, white-skinned homo Sapiens still live. Scandinavians are amongst the tallest race on earth, only challenged by the Dutch with a similar tall, blonde white-skinned dna that originated in Scandinavia. This was in fact the dna that became the aristocracy of Europe as they populated middle Europe from Russia, through Germany, Austria, Holland, France and England, usually through the military exploits of the Vikings.

Genetic scientists have used Icelandic dna studies, the largest ever set of human genomes from a single population, to conclude that the original father of all humans lived 239,000 years ago.

The northern lands of Scandinavia are rich in mines containing copper, silver and gold. The Scandinavian folklore is the source for Tolkein’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ characters, elves, trolls and the dwarves, who burrowed deep beneath the mountains and gained reputations as highly skilled miners, metal-smiths, weapon-forgers and jewellers. But the dominant species were the white-skinned giant wizards who surrounded themselves with myth about their ‘magic’ and technology. These are the Caucasians.

All ancient history? Fables and fancies of primitives? People who did not have the intellect that we have today?

Humour me while I speculate historically based on the information that we do have about our ancestors. Consider that, in Africa, two million+ years ago, lived the branch of hominids whose genes had mutated from primitive chimpanzees to homo Erectus (upright man). It would be quite normal that within these little tribal families of homo erectus, there were a proportion born with various mutation genes; perhaps much taller or much smaller than the norm. Perhaps even some with ‘mental problems’ (that today we might define as genius, the mad scientist gene or with the skills and behavioural patterns acquired within the autistic spectrum). These would be similar to the mutations from ‘normality’ that we have today. And if these ‘freaks’ were isolated from their communities and forced out of their territory, could these dwarves, giants, albinos, autistics and mad scientists then have progressively moved northwards away from the harassment of the ‘normal’ hominids? Over many generations, actually over a million year span, did this community of circus freaks continue to migrate, constantly harassed like gypsies by the normal hominids in northern Africa and southern Europe, until they reached the much cooler climes of Northern Europe where they found themselves finally free to live without harassment?

And was ‘up north’ the place that further freaks were subsequently sent by the normal hominids over the millennia? But in these much colder climates they would have faced completely new sets of challenges to survive. So did their brains respond to the challenges? For nature will provide the tools to deal with challenges of nature. Desperation creates the need for smarter thinking, better brain response, greater brain activity creates greater brains, just like exercising muscles; and only the smartest and biggest survive to breeding age or are accepted by females as breeding companions. Shelter against the harsh elements would have been among the first needs; complex clothing and solid constructions to shelter from the winters rather than the flimsy clothing and constructions of the African nomads. Communication skills, organisational skills and laws would become more essential as communal cooperation would be critical to survival. Domestication of animals would be a solution when incessant storms would prevent hunting.

As evidence shows, this northern Europe branch of homo erectus evolved into a quite different species, homo heidelbergensis. They emerged from Africa but were the first human species that were adaptable to colder climates. They were also widely known for their ability to hunt large animals, which was not seen in the human species before them. They were the first human species to build their own living shelter.  The Heidelbergensis male was about 175cm tall and weighed around 136 lbs, whereas the female average height was 157 cm tall and weighed 112 lbs. They had a large brain case with a flatter face than that today’s humans. A tall, white skinned tribe, the  predecessor of the Neanderthal and also of us, the Sapiens. Did hundreds of thousands of years in fully-clothed protection from the cold change their skin colour permanently. After all the soles of Africans feet and palms of their hands are quite pale. Perhaps over the development period of several hundred thousand years, highly motivated by survival needs in a harsh climate, they had their own Thomas Edison who observed lightning running down a kite string to create electricity? Their own James Watt who studied the power of steam? Their own Galileo who observed the movement of planets and their own Marconi who discovered radio communication?

We know that somewhere along the timeline of history of our ancestors did achieve great engineering feats of pyramids and monuments that astound us even today. Thousands of years ago people had developed astronomical knowledge on which is based today’s space programme; people had developed mathematical knowledge upon which today’s computers are dependent. People could smelt metals from the earth to make tools and weapons and they developed farming principles upon which our population today is completely dependent. Those people who took this intellectual path, however it came about, had been subject to some influence or environment that distinguished them from primitive nomads and hunter gatherers who also lived on earth during those same times.

The last ice age started just over a hundred thousand years ago. During the ice age the north of Europe was covered in ice as far south as Germany and Poland. The climate generally was very dry and in Africa and the Middle East many smaller mountain glaciers formed and the Sahara and Gobi deserts expanded significantly. The Persian Gulf averaged about 35 metres in depth and the seabed between Abu Dhabi and Qatar was mostly less than 15 metres deep. For thousands of years the Ur Shatt river, formed from the Tigris Euphrates rivers, ran through Iraq and Iran and provided fresh water to the Gulf. Bathymetric data suggests there were two palaeo-basins in the Persian Gulf. The central basin may have approached an area of 20,000 km², comparable at its fullest extent to lakes such as Lake Malawi in Africa.

This region is one of the most favoured speculations for God and his angels having set up the garden of Eden. Under the pressure of the ice age in their northern homeland, is it impossible to imagine that some of these white-skinned giants with their ‘magic’ sent exploratory groups to develop southern farmlands to send food home? Did they use the more primitive African/ Asian nomadic hominids of this region as slaves on their farms? These southern hominids had not needed to develop their civilisations beyond the nomadic hunter gather level simply because they lived in a much kinder climate than the Caucasians had experienced. Conversely, having lived in cold climates for millennia, this ‘down south’ climate might have been as hot as hell for the Caucasians. In much the same way that the British found the India excessively hot while they exploited the natives to mine their gold, cut down their mahogany, grow their tea and cook a damn fine curry.

ramidus_to_erectusThe Caucasians then would have seen these primitive hominids, possibly still barely evolved from the original homo erectus, as scarcely different to animals. But, while primitive, they were nonetheless of the same species and so  is it possible that the Caucasians found the slave women pleasing to the loins? Was this Genesis 6, the sons of gods resorting to the daughters of man and having children by them?

As outlined in the previous weblogs, there is evidence of a huge comet strike just over 12,000 years ago. Fragments of the comet are believed to have hit the North American ice shelf as well as right across the North European ice shelf. Perhaps the civilisation that the Caucasians had established throughout Scandinavia was obliterated in this comet strike and the only pure Caucasian survivors were those who had moved south into the Mediterranean and North African regions. And perhaps it was these survivors who were the sages who preserved human genes, animal genes and seeds (Noah’s Ark myth) and set about regenerating their Caucasian civilisation. And would it then be possible that the golden-skinned offspring of the liaisons between the white-skinned giants and the Negro/ Asian women blended the strength and intelligence genes of their Caucasian fathers, the ‘gods’, with the athleticism of their nomadic mothers’ genes? That such offspring would be remembered as the glorious Greek athletes, Trojan warrior heroes and Babylonian scholars of mythology? That this would be remembered in modern history as our human race’s ‘classical age’ and from these demi gods came the aristocratic blood lines of Europe. And from these aristocratic stocks came the kings and queens of the modern world?

If we arrogantly think that we, this generation, are the pinnacle of human development and its all been building quietly to this point, remember we are trying to place ourselves in the environment of 13,000 years ago and work out how humanity had developed over the 200,000 years prior to that. For relativity, try to fast forward to the year 13,000 ad and assume, for whatever natural process, there is no Eiffel tower, no World Tower, no Sky tower, Opera House or Taj Mahal still in existence. Imagine they are all just rubble buried beneath the earth. That during those 11,000 years between now and 13,000 ad. a comet had struck the earth or super virus had swept the planet and wiped out most of our population. But some humans survived, Mad Max style, and rebuilt our civilisation from scratch over those 11,000 years and it took 13,000 to rebuild it back to what we have now. Could the humans of 13,000 ad then believe that 11,000 years previously we were putting men on Mars? And if there were descendants in that distant time from our own land, would they retell legends of Ed Hillary, Richie McCaw and the giant Jonah Lomu? And while we think of ourselves in very generic terms to be a technologically highly advanced race, in real one-on-one terms, exactly how many of the 7 billion people on the planet today could build a computer, let along conceive of one. Or a mobile phone, or any telephone more complicated than two cans and a piece of string for that matter . 

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Are we, as current caucasian descendants, primally racist deep in our dna? Do we have an inborn belief that we are a species above other human species? Let us briefly recount the stark black and white issue of our own times. The Ayrian attempt at extermination of the Jews and Negroes may stand as one of the the single most horrific events in our history, but is that just a symptom of a deep rooted attitude of the Caucasian gene globally rather than an isolated crime carried out by a handful of madmen? The racism of the white Americans towards the black African-Americans certainly appeared, from all accounts, to have been deeply rooted in their dna. The abolition of slavery in the USA in 1865 was very much an academic exercise. As slaves, their owners provided them food, clothing and shelter. Primitive it may have been but they considered them as livestock, chattels and as such they had to take reasonable care of their investment. As ‘free men’ the negroes earned a pitiful wage in a caucasian world, if they could even find work. And from that wage they had to provide their own food, clothing and shelter. In effect, was life any different? They were still treated socially like animals, particularly in the Southern States where beatings, murder and rape were quite simply unpunished. It was not, in their minds, man’s inhumanity to man; they believed in their deepest dna that white Caucasians are a completely different, and totally superior, species to black Africans. This was not a tribal conflict as you would find on any continent; this is a belief in a primal difference in the two species. One genetically linked to divine authority and the other genetically linked to apes that had been taught to speak and dress.

And before we write this history off as being isolated to those arrogant, ugly Americans, slavery in America was actually a British venture. Slavery of black Africans goes back as far as historical records reach throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean which were within easy reach of the African source of slaves. As transport by sea became more advanced, more distant countries embraced the slave trade. In the 16th Century, Britain followed the example of the Portuguese in travelling to the west coast of Africa and enslaving Africans. The British slave trade business was started by Sir John Hawkins with the support and investment of Elizabeth I in 1573. The trade became a very lucrative business. Bristol grew rich on it, then Liverpool. London also dealt in slaves as did some of the smaller British ports. The specialised vessels were built in many British shipyards, but most were constructed in Liverpool. Laden with trade goods (guns and ammunition, rum, metal goods and cloth) they sailed to the ‘Slave Coast’, exchanged the goods for human beings, packed them into the vessels like sardines and sailed them across the Atlantic. On arrival, those left alive were oiled to make them look healthy and put on the auction block. Again, death rates (during the voyage) are unknown: one estimate, for the 1840s, is 25 per cent. British immigrant plantation and mine-owners bought the Africans. The enslaved in the British colonies had no legal rights as they were not human – they were not permitted to marry and couples and their children were often sold off separately. Historian Paul Lovejoy has conservatively estimated that between 1701 and 1800 about 40 per cent of the approximately more than 6 million enslaved Africans were transported in British vessels.

Britain dominated its European rivals and became the premier global slave trader from the seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries when the trade was made illegal in Britain in 1807. By then it had been well established as an essential part of the economy in America where British immigrant landowners grew cotton for the British cotton mills. Passing a law against trading in slaves did not, however, prevent British businesses from importing products such as cotton, tobacco and sugar produced by slave labour in America and the West Indies. There is no certainty whether the Laws actually even actually stopped the slave trade until it was abolished in America, their primary market. Slavery was an ‘out of sight’ trade, between West Africa and the Americas and so would have required diligent off-shore enforcement and there is no evidence that it happened at any more than a token level. These were the same British who, until the latter half of the 20th century, still legally classified Australian Aborigines as a species of Australian fauna and where, even into the 20th century, night-time ‘abbo hunting’ was a redneck sport similar to rabbit shooting.

But although the white Caucasians may believe the black Africans to be a completely different species, seen as non-human for which there was no crime attached to rape, torture, or murder, they are genetically quite capable of successfully breeding with them and indeed in modern times the ‘sons of Caucasian’ have found the daughters of negroes to be pleasing and they have, over the centuries, created millions of demi-caucasians. Many are the heroic athletes and warriors of the modern world.

History repeats.

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How on earth did we get here?

European New Zealanders! How on earth did we get here? And why? This South Pacific region is the southern part of the Asian world.  The Aborigines arrived in Australia from South East Asia an impressive 40 – 50,000 years ago when the ice age climate meant seas were about 100-150 metres shallower than now and New Guinea and Tasmania were joined to the continent. The Aborigines were therefore able to island-hop from South East Asia to Australia.

New Zealand was, even then, very distant from Australia and so did not receive Homo sapiens occupation from this ancient southern migration. The original Maori immigrants actually arrived here comparatively recently, probably around 12-1300 AD, having travelled for an unknown period of centuries or millennia by an open sea route from China via Taiwan and Hawaii.

And here the Maori lived in a secluded, primitive, tribal existence for hundreds of years. It was not as if the Chinese lacked for the technology to follow this route en masse and totally dominate the South Pacific. In the very early 1400’s AD, 200 years before Abel Tasman sailed by and 300 years before Cook, a Chinese Admiral, Zheng He, was a far greater explorer than Magellan, Columbus, Tasman or Cook. Under the direction of the Yongle Emperor, Zheng He led seven armada from China throughout the Indian ocean. The biggest of his voyages included 300 ships with 30,000 sailors on board. That absolutely dwarfs Columbus’ Tasman’s or Cook’s efforts. But a change in the balance of political power in China resulted in the massive maritime exploration policy being stopped in 1433. The new rulers believed that the only important land was their own “Middle Kingdom” so why spend so much money sailing to the lands of filthy barbarians? And so the Maori lived quietly in Aotearoa, oblivious to these goings on in their Asian homeland.

But then, in the mid 18th century, scientists in Britain decided they desperately wanted to know the distance of earth from the sun. They worked out by some calculation that this measurement could be achieved by taking astronomical observations of the transition of Venus across the sun from different points around the globe; one of those points being the South Pacific. And so the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge had a chat to the Navy and asked them if they wouldn’t mind taking eminent astronomer Charles Green down to Tahiti to observe the 1769 transit of Venus. “No trouble at all, old boy,” said some crusty old admiral over a brandy in The Club. So Captain James Cook was given the job. But since going all that way, the navy thought they may as well have a bit of a nosey around while they are there. A few more passengers were added to paint what they found, collect fauna and draw maps and off they set. And so Cook visited Australia and New Zealand that Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, had discovered 120 years earlier in 1642 and had called Staten Landt, believing that it was connected to a landmass of the same name at the southern tip of South America. In 1645 Dutch cartographers renamed the land Nova Zeelandia after the Dutch province of Zeeland. This was the period in history when the Dutch had taken the alpha-pirate mantle from the Spaniards & Portuguese. But the Dutch were capitalists and this visit was funded by the Dutch East India Company; they only invested in the expensive business of slaughtering natives when they saw an economic return. The Dutch East India Company, with its mercenaries, had already colonised Indonesia and were active in New Amsterdam (renamed New York by the British) but apparently neither New Zealand nor Australia cut it as prudent investments.

The 18th century saw Britain emerge as the global economic and imperial force, but Britain was also going through major social trauma. Industrialisation saw the large volumes of urban drift from the increasingly impoverished countryside. Overpopulation in the cities created major unemployment resulting in an increasing crime rate which threatened the governing upper and middle class citizens. Public hangings did little to deter crime since the criminals had no choice but to take the risk or starve. The Government saw another solution and that was to export its excess population from the lower classes on any minor criminal charge. On Cook’s return to old Blighty, Joseph Banks, who had been the botanist on the voyage, brought the good news that a perfect penal colony in Australia had been identified. While it seemed a good idea, it was an expensive option and so they pursued hanging for a few years later until the situation got so desperate that they bit the bullet and colonised Australia as a prison. In 1788 the first shipment of prisoners arrived at the newest declared British colony in Botany Bay. It may not have appealed to the merchants as an investment like India or America, but it looked like a jolly good place to put your unwanteds.

Following the colonisation of Australia, this South Pacific region started to attract whalers from around the world, America, France and Britain. Whalers raided the New Zealand coastline throughout the last quarter of the 18th century and well into the 19th century. After trading settlements began to establish here, the missionaries were not far behind. There is nothing quite like teaching a bunch of savages the missionary position to stir a missionary’s religious passions. The French established their own settlement on the Akaroa harbour and Bishop Pompelier arrived to save a few heathen souls.

But it was the British who made the call to colonise Aotearoa/ New Zealand, probably not wanting France to establish their own colony so close to Australia; never can trust the froggies, what? And also several Governors of New South Wales had taken political interest in New Zealand in support of the Australian traders dealing with Maoris. So finally a treaty was established with the Maori in 1840 and Aotearoa officially became a British colony under the Anglicised Dutch name, New Zealand. The rest is history. Circumstances in Britain such as the Irish potato famine, Scottish religious disharmony, high unemployment and the stratified class system brought, over the next century, 3 million  immigrants to establish New Zealand as a dominant British society as the Maori native population fell dramatically. The New zealand climate and geography was significantly more British that in Australia.

NZ EthnicityBut a hundred and fifty years later, give or take, we are starting to see both a resurgence of the Maori population, or in those declaring Maori ancestry, as well as a renewed interest from Asia. In the 2013 census, 12% of New Zealanders identified as Asian, an increase of 33% since 2006 and now surpassing the Pacific Islanders at 7% and only slightly behind Maori at 15%. Europeans still dominate at 74%, but look at the trends.

Equally interesting to the population trend is the median age of each group. Europeans median age is 41; Asians is 30; Maori 24 and Pacific Islanders 22.

Population dominance trend

Population dominance trend

Prior to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840, Australians and British citizens negotiated directly with Maori over land rights. When the Crown showed intent to annex New Zealand, an association of British investors tried in 1838 to get legislative backing from the British government to colonise New Zealand; their attempt failed. The Association was then dissolved and some of its members formed the New Zealand Company. This Company also failed to get Government backing  but decided anyway to proceed with its investment plans and sent an expedition led by Colonel William Wakefield to purchase land as the site for the first settlement.

Colonel Wakefield’s party reached Wellington Harbour in September 1839 and initiated negotiations with a number of Maori chiefs for land on both sides of Cook Strait. The Company claimed to have purchased 20 million acres of land and parcels of this land were being sold in London by this property speculation company before these negotiations were concluded.

So when the settlers arrived at Wellington Harbour on 22 January 1840, just four months after Wakefield, they found that the land  had not even been surveyed and the Maoris were disputing ownership of much of it. The property speculators of the New Zealand Company had been in a race against time to get in before the Crown formally took control over New Zealand which was done only two weeks later on February 6 1840 with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Initially New Zealand was seen only an extension of Australia to the British Crown. The commercial dealings with New Zealand were primarily between Australia and New Zealand. The British Crown only initially took an interest in annexing New Zealand because such product imported into either Australia or Britain was ‘foreign’ and therefore subject to duties which did not suit the merchants.

Investigations into the New Zealand Company’s claim to have purchased 20 million acres continued for several years, and only a small area was finally agreed as purchased; meanwhile, the disputed land purchases led to fighting and threats of fighting at each of the company’s settlements, Wellington, Wanganui, New Plymouth, and Nelson. But the New Zealand Company was given its charter from the Crown in 1841 to buy and sell land and subsequently Church associations were assisted to establish settlements in Dunedin and Christchurch.

But the initial colonisation of Aotearoa was founded on the very dodgy dealings of British property speculators which the British Crown has tried to sort out over the subsequent 175 years. Once the New Zealand Company had created such a political mess with the Maori, the Crown had to take the role of militarily protecting its British citizens and sorting the mess out. The mess is still not totally sorted out but the interbreeding has been to such an extent that Maori are battling in Court on behalf of one set of their families against the other set of their families.

Notably New Zealand was given its independence of government only thirteen years after the signing of the Treaty. In fact Britain took very little interest in New Zealand until the frozen meat technology in the 1880’s made it a good source of lamb and butter for its increasingly urbanised population. It really was only the shipping of frozen meat and butter that lifted New Zealand from a third world backwater to, eventually, a first world nation. But in 1973 Britain decided it no longer needed New Zealand as a farm any more as it had done  a deal within the European Community. So we had to source other buyers for our farm produce from Asian and Mid Eastern nations. China became a major customer and is now investing in the infrastructure to secure its source of food supply.

It is ironical that so many descendant beneficiaries of the British and Sydney-based land speculation of the 19th century are now so morally outraged about the actions of the Chinese coming in 175 years later, an historical blink of an eye, and actually legitimately buying our ‘birthright’ from willing sellers in order to establish some control over a farm to feed its very urbanised population in China, a nation that has a genetic kinship with our Maori population just as Europe has with our Pakeha population.

It’s a funny old world.




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