Sunday, 18 October 2015

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I don’t follow the news much any more.  It seems that much of it is based around telling the viewer or reader that they are powerless to change their world, and I can’t be bothered engaging with current affairs in that sentiment.

I understand that there have been a spate of attacks in Israel by Israeli Arabs on Jewish Israelis.  This is upsetting, and the attackers are portrayed as terrorists, as wicked as any other Islamists in the Middle East.  The fact that this is a consequence of fifty year old policies pursued by the Israeli state to restrict the Palestinian population on freedom of movement and property ownership, for starters, notwithstanding.  From outside the Palestinian population look like prisoners in their own land.

I’m a citizen of New Zealand, I can trace from genealogy back to the first European settlers to disembark off the tall ships in Dunedin over one hundred and fifty years ago.  My national identity is here.  I am also not indigenous, and I never will be.  I’m Pakeha (European-descended New Zealander), and not Maori in genealogy, tauiwi, literally foreigner.  The contract by which I exist and live in New Zealand is based around the Treaty of Waitangi, the nation’s founding document.  We forgot about it for a hundred years.  It is an important document to have as part of our constitutional law.  I love it when the Treaty is invoked in New Zealand law, and Maori leaders are its advocates.  More often I hear it being used for the benefit of both partner peoples in New Zealand.

Maybe I read too much into Tolkien’s Silmarillion, where the Elves are the Quendi, the first speaking race, and the Eldar, the star-people; and humans are the Atani, the second people.  I discover there in a fantasy text that has been life-long reading the same relationship between peoples.

Once I use these paradigms as my foundation for identity then what is happening in the Middle East becomes problematic.  One group is intentionally displacing and disenfranchising another group, an earlier people, for the intent of being dominant.  The disenfranchised are suffering with no outlet for recompense.  To cause hurt is their only retaliation.  Institutional injustice is enforced by the eschatological endgames for religious groups.  It is not surprising to be reminded that the biblical accounts of colonisation of the holy land is the favorite theological justification of settling societies in history, the wheel turns one notch.

Displacement of the Palestinians becomes more frightening when considering that what is happening in Syria is only the beginning of the water wars of this century.  Syria is the first state to collapse under the limits of water supply for its economy.  The Middle East threatens to become an unhappy place.  Israeli society will come under more pressure.  This may be the beginning of an unhappy time.

Migration in a context of colonisation

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Some thoughts from the recent Presbyterian Research Network lecture with Tony Ballantyne.

A larger than average attendance, I think I saw a good representation from the Friends of Toitu Settlers Museum.

The leadership of the settlement in the first generation was atypical.  As pastoral leader of the colony for the Free Church of Scotland Rev. Thomas Burns was sounded out by a delegation of workmen before landing in support of their request for a eight hour working day.  He was in favour.  The secular leader of the expendition, Captain Cargill, was a traditional classist in favour of the Good Auld Scotch Rule — a ten hour working day.  His leadership was muddled, perhaps it’s no surprise that the other ship’s captain, Captain Elles, settled further south in Invercargill.  The union question in first-generation Dunedin was decided to the workers’ advantage.  So much for the good auld Scotch rule!

Originally supporters of the new colony and benefactors, local indigenous Maori were quickly sidelined as further ships arrived bringing new settlers on whom it was easy to capitalise.

The colony was defined by its identifying boundaries.  Two thirds were Presbyterians, the minority were the Little Enemy, mostly Anglicans and Methodists.  It was not homogenous.  The discovery of gold expanded the size of the colony, the old identities labelled the influx of the miners as the new iniquity.  That did not stop them by profiting on stocking the new chums.

Even so when the Early Settlers Museum was established its identity of the Early Settlers took the cut-off date as 1861, late enough to cover six months of the arrivals of the New Iniquities.

Surprisingly while there is a surfeit of original documentation for the settlement of colonial settlement of Southern New Zealand the study of its history is overlooked, taking New Zealand’s history to the North Island.  There is a new history waiting to be written here, as well as a historical identity to discover.

The John Wickliffe and the Philip Laing in Otago Harbour, see for information.

The John Wickliffe and the Philip Laing in Otago Harbour, see for information.