Not I, some youngster born in a marvellous yr / Will study the trick of standing upright right here.
The ultimate couplet in Alan Curnow’s poem “The Skeleton of the Nice Moa within the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch” could be learn in some ways. One is to see in it a dismal acceptance of the impossibility of discovering one’s place in one other folks’s land. One other is to search out in Curnow’s phrases a bolshy refusal to even try the act in any respect.
However to stay resolutely non-upright, it appears to me, would require the awkward meshing of reminiscences of another land during which (as soon as upon an earlier time) one did stand upright, with a type of historic amnesia relating to the place during which it now appears so troublesome to search out one’s toes.
Listed here are some issues concerning the land on which my folks established themselves in Aotearoa that have been, for a very long time, forgotten.
My great-grandfather, Andrew Gilhooly, was one of many 644 members of the Armed Constabulary (AC) that invaded Parihaka on the morning of November 5 1881. He was there for the weeks and months that adopted, throughout which ladies have been raped, whare have been torn down, crops destroyed and folks’s possessions and treasures looted.
Parihaka is not only an invasion day story, and Andrew remained at Parihaka as a part of an occupying pressure till the top of 1884. The occupation was not benign. On April 17 1882, as an example, the AC broke up an try by non-Parihaka Māori to distribute meals on the pā. The parliamentary report has Native Minister John Bryce discovering the concept of Māori taking provides to Parihaka to be “in each approach objectionable”.
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And so, in retaliation for “this act of antagonism to the expressed orders of the Authorities” – in different phrases, to punish folks whose gardens have been destroyed and whose inventory have been stolen for having had the temerity to attempt to feed themselves – the AC pulled down a dozen extra whare.
Andrew returned to the coast a decade or so after he left, this time to change into a farmer. He and his spouse Kate would ultimately management three household farms. All have been inside a few kilometres of Parihaka and every a part of the 1,275,000 acres of land confiscated from mana whenua by the colonial authorities beneath the provisions of the New Zealand Settlements Act after which granted to troopers or bought to folks like my great-grandparents.
Punishment for ‘sedition’
Andrew obtained title to the primary farm – part 44, Block 12 of the Cape Survey District (CSD) – in 1895. It was on the seaward aspect of the South Highway (he had participated in its building when he was with the AC) and was due to this fact out there for freehold buy.
Had the street been additional to the west, as initially surveyed, he may not have been capable of purchase the property, as a result of it might have been a part of the land on the mountain aspect of the street that was initially put aside for Māori reserves. However a surveying error meant the South Highway wound up being nearer to Taranaki maunga than it ought to have been, liberating up 5,000 further acres for freehold sale – together with part 44.
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My great-grandmother, Kate, bought the third of the Gilhooly farms in 1921. Part 102, Block 12 of the CSD, which the Native Land Court docket named “Parihaka A”, was on the mountain aspect of the street however was not leasehold land. It did, nevertheless, comprise an urupā. No-one appears to know whose folks lay in it, or whether or not or not it nonetheless exists.
Moreover, Parihaka A was a part of the 5,000 acres of land the colonial authorities determined, in 1882, to carry again from any future Māori reserves as “an indemnity for the loss sustained by the federal government in suppressing the Parihaka sedition”.
The sedition, to be clear, that was non-violent and whose protagonists welcomed my great-grandfather and his AC comrades into the pā with items of meals. (And for a time the meals saved coming: on New 12 months’s Day 1882, mere weeks after their pā had been destroyed, the folks of Parihaka ready a hangi for members of the occupying pressure.)
However it’s the second farm that I wish to discuss right here, as a result of that was on Māori leasehold land.
Alexander Turnbull Library, CC BY-NC
Locked out of their very own land
The historical past of the West Coast leasehold system is, I think, even much less properly understood than that of the invasion and plunder of Parihaka. Briefly, in 1882 the federal government started restoring to Māori among the land it had confiscated 20 years earlier.
Puke Ariki, CC BY-ND
Bizarrely, nevertheless, accountability for the administration of those West Coast reserves was vested not with the Māori house owners however within the palms of a government-appointed public trustee, who was tasked with appearing for the advantage of “the natives to whom such reserves belong” and for “the promotion of settlement”.
These two necessities are, after all, essentially incompatible, and it was the second that gained out. By 1912 some 193,996 acres had been notionally put aside in reserves in Taranaki, however 120,110 of them had already been leased to settlers by the trustee by way of 21-year leases.
And these have been no odd leases. From 1887 they could possibly be renegotiated with out the approval of the land’s house owners, and from 1892 they got here with a perpetual proper of renewal, successfully (and fairly actually) locking Māori out of their very own land.
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There may be extra, as there all the time is with such issues. Fairly other than having fun with safety of tenure, leaseholders might additionally mortgage, sublet or switch a lease to others – with out the permission of the land’s house owners. Beneath the Authorities Advances to Settlers Act 1894, Pākehā settlers might borrow cash from the federal government to enhance the land – however Māori landowners couldn’t (the clue is within the title of the act). Māori have been forbidden from negotiating leases, and the trustee systematically set rents at decrease charges than would have been secured on an open market.
After 1892, the trustee might additionally cost Māori to stay on what remained of their very own land. Some Māori house owners paid extra for these occupation licences than some Pākehā farmers paid to lease Māori land, which led to individuals who owned land they may not stay on generally discovering themselves in debt.
This was land owned by Māori however managed by the state, which was leased out at charges determined by a course of the house owners might play no half in, and which incurred debt over which these house owners had little or no management, partly as a result of they may not stay on and work their very own land. It’s troublesome – not possible, actually – to think about such a regime being utilized to Pākehā landowners.
My household have been beneficiaries of that system. In 1902, my great-grandfather signed the lease on a farm on the Opourapa Highway for £35. The lease was renewed 21 years later, at which level its worth elevated to £47.
By the point the second leasehold interval had elapsed the Māori house owners of the land – of whom there is no such thing as a point out in any of the archival materials I’ve discovered – had endured a 42-year interval throughout which the return on land that had been leased in perpetuity to another person had grown by simply £12.
The trick of standing upright right here
Historian Vincent O’Malley has additionally contemplated Curnow’s “trick” to standing upright in Aotearoa:
I might counsel an enormous a part of it’s reconciling ourselves with the historical past of this nation. Not the imagined historical past of a plucky wee nation on the backside of the globe, punching above its weight, egalitarian and forward-looking. I’m speaking concerning the messy, difficult historical past of how Pākehā colonised this land.
For the higher a part of my life I’ve managed to keep away from trying this trick, a lot preferring each the orthodox settler story of thrusting progress and a private historical past that started with the acquisition of the household farms.
These days, although, I’ve discovered myself attempting to take O’Malley up on his suggestion, grubbing round within the archives, outdated cadastral maps and AC annual experiences in an try to finish the forgetting by placing collectively a extra trustworthy, much less selective and self-serving historic narrative.
The story that’s rising is a really un-settling one. Issues are nonetheless feeling a bit shaky, however I’m slowly getting higher at standing alone two toes right here.
Richard Shaw’s The Forgotten Coast is revealed by Massey College Press.
Richard Shaw doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.