New Zealand tops 2019 Human Freedom Index

We mightn’t be quite as healthy as some other countries – see World’s healthiest countries (NZ ranked 18th) – but we are ranked top of a Freedom index.

Cato Institute: Human Freedom Index

Top ten:

Thee bottom countries were Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Venezuela and Syria.

New Zealand was also ranked top of the 2018 index, up from 3rd in 2017 (3rd also in 2017, 5th in 2016).

The Human Freedom Index presents the state of human freedom in the world based on a broad measure that encompasses personal, civil, and economic freedom. Human freedom is a social concept that recognizes the dignity of individuals and is defined here as negative liberty or the absence of coercive constraint. Because freedom is inherently valuable and plays a role in human progress, it is worth measuring carefully. The Human Freedom Index is a resource that can help to more objectively observe relationships between freedom and other social and economic phenomena, as well as the ways in which the various dimensions of freedom interact with one another.

The report is co-published by the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Liberales Institut at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

The Human Freedom Index – 2019

The index published here presents a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. This fifth annual index uses 76 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas:

  • Rule of Law

  • Security and Safety

  • Movement

  • Religion

  • Association, Assembly, and Civil Society

  • Expression and Information

  • Identity and Relationships

  • Size of Government

  • Legal System and Property Rights

  • Access to Sound Money

  • Freedom to Trade Internationally

  • Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business

Full Report PDF

Country Profiles PDF

Communists and socialists in New Zealand

In the 1970s and 1980s socialism in New Zealand was much more prominent than it is now, especially through links to unions and unionists.

Have socialist ideals fizzled out? Not entirely, some activists promote something similar – somehow getting rid of capitalism and replacing our financial and political systems with something like socialism. But with previously communist countries USSR and China now embracing a lot of capitalism the socialist ideals are more low key and fringe.

Someone at Reddit was Wanting to know about communism in NZ

Does anyone have any links or info for any current communist or socialist parties in NZ ? I’ve done a bit of a search online but keep just finding info about defunct parties and terrible NZ herald articles. Anything specific to the Otago area would be amazing.

One unappreciated response:

I’ll tell you for $15

Another probably wasn’t very helpful:

Both of our major parties have been infiltrated by the Communist Party of China and we are in the process of becoming their puppet state.

Why not start by joining one of those parties?

It was pointed out that the Communist Party of China (if there is such a thing) mustn’t be very socialist these days.

There were some more helpful suggestions:

The International Socialists in Dunedin are pretty active right? Give them a yell. They like protesting.

Also:

Organise Aotearoa aren’t a parliamentary party but are probably one of the more active groups having only just kicked off last year. They do have a Dunedin branch too. Active on social media with their links at the bottom of the page, their twitter follows a lot of their members who are mostly very chatty.

The New Communist Party of Aotearoa is also a thing that exists as of last year but I’m not so familiar with them.

Organise Aotearoa (modern socialist groups seem to avoid using socialist names) explains their aims:

Organise Aotearoa is a new movement for liberation and socialism. We believe that the current political and economic system is rotten to the core. This system is killing our planet, creating massive inequalities, and undermining the tino rangatiratanga of Māori.

I don’t think the tino rangatiratanga of Māori is particularly socialist. Rangatira relates to chieftainship.

If we want to live in a truly just, fair, and democratic world, we need to do things differently. We need a system that puts people and the environment before corporations and their profits. We are fighting for socialism because we need a system that shares wealth and prosperity among all people.

We cannot simply rely on politicians in Parliament to do what’s best for us. Time after time, politicians have made promises and failed to deliver. Even worse, most politicians don’t even try.

It’s hard to see how any meaningful changes will be made to our political system without doing it through Parliament. This is no sign of any popular inclination for revolution in Aotearoa.

And it would probably have major difficulties dealing with the Treaty of Waitangi.

History has shown us that people in power only make the changes we actually need when everyday people get organised and demand them.

That’s why Organise Aotearoa wants to do politics differently. We’re committed to doing politics in a way that enables all of us to transform our living conditions together. We want to build the power of ordinary working people so that our collective needs, desires, dreams, and aspirations can’t be ignored. Together, we can make Aotearoa a more equal and democratic place, where everyone can thrive.

“Ordinary working people” is far from everyone, and it is claimed that socialism tends to discourage people from being working people.

Also r/kiwisocialists “has a list of groups around the country”:

A place for socialists, communists and anarchists to discuss current events and organise within Aotearoa.

But it’s not exactly reaching the masses:

157 Comrades

Communism hasn’t been able to prove it is a workable alternative – it has largely been a big failure – so socialist activism is a fringe idealist activity.

Socialist groups had some connections with the Mana Party (also called the Mana Movement) but that flopped when joining forces with a big capitalist Kim Dotcom and fizzling.

Will we have an election year ‘culture war’?

Politics in Aotearoa is quite different to Australia, the United Kingdom and the USA, so it is difficult to know how much we will move towards the fractious and divisive politics of those countries in this election year.

Bryce Edwards suggests New Zealand voters must prepare for an ugly culture war this election

Trump, Morrison and Johnson have found fertile political ground in the backlash to being woke. Simon Bridges is likely to ape them

Bridges is already trying a bit of this approach, but he’s not very popular so it’s difficult to judge whether he is shifting support – National has generally maintained good levels of support regardless of their leader’s lack of appeal.

Some say the New Zealand insistence on fairness goes back to our colonial history. Many escapees of industrial Britain embraced a life in a less class-ridden country. Of course the idea that New Zealand is an equal and “classless society” was always a myth, but this egalitarian ethos endures.

It creates a particular problem for politicians of the right. As a former prime minister, John Key, told US diplomats in a private briefing, New Zealand’s “socialist streak” means it can be difficult to push rightwing policies. Key later elaborated: “New Zealand is a very caring country. I think New Zealanders do have a heart.”

In 2017 this helped the election of Jacinda Ardern’s government, made up of parties that channelled concerns about the lack of fairness under the then National-led government. The new government promised to be “transformative”, rolling out a fairness agenda in programs from KiwiBuild to child poverty reduction targets.

This all presents the National party with a dilemma. There are few votes in criticising the government’s fairness agenda – in fact the opposition is reduced to complaining that the government has not delivered on its left-leaning program.

As the election nears, National will try to paint itself as better economic managers and Grant Robertson as an irresponsible and incompetent finance minister, but this is unlikely to cut it with many voters.

I agree. Robertson has largely been successful at avoiding scaring the economic horses.

So where can it differentiate? National increasingly relies on stoking “culture wars” and law and order. It is these fertile new hunting grounds that give Simon Bridges his best chance of painting Ardern and her colleagues as out of touch with mainstream New Zealand.

I doubt that Bridges will get very far there – one of Ardern’s strengths has been her ability to show empathy for how ‘mainstream New Zealand’ feels, especially during high profile times of deaths and emotions.

Culture wars are concerned with debates relating to ethnicity, gender, sexuality, human rights, discrimination, free speech and civil liberties. Elements of the political left – especially in the Labour and Green parties – are increasingly associated with campaigns in these areas, and often their stances are not shared by many mainstream voters.

But I think they are just niche elements of the left.

Ardern knows very well to keep her government as clear as possible of contentious social issues. Instead, if Labour and its coalition partners can keep public debate around traditional egalitarian concerns about inequality, housing, health and education, the New Zealand notion of fairness will probably also ensure her government will get another chance.

But Ardern probably needs the Greens and possibly NZ First to retain power. Winston Peters tends to appeal to a quite small ‘unfairness’ demographic which is quite different to the type of ‘fairness’ voters Greens will be trying too appeal to.

National’s best bet might be to provoke an ugly culture war. Expect to see Bridges attempt to start debates on these issues and paint Labour and the Greens as “woke” elitists, or just soft on law and order. This might be desperate and opportunistic – National MPs genuinely don’t care that much about many of these issues. But National knows that they are the sort of emotive and divisive concerns that might change votes.

This would be high risk. While it may appeal to some they are likely to already lean towards National. The more moderate voters that are seen as essential to winning elections are less likely to be attracted to divisive politics. They are more likely to be repelled by it.

There’s a cultural backlash ready to be fostered – as Donald Trump, Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson have found to their benefit. Such debates, whether over identity politics, hate speech, minority rights or gender can be explosively divisive. That could end up being the ugly story of the 2020 general election.

The US is a two party democracy that is very polarised – Donald Trump exploited this to win the presidency.

But we have multiple parties and I think far less division. There are noisy minorities on the extremes, but National and Labour are generally seen as more similar than different by most, in part due to the moderating influence of MMP.

National (and NZ First and the Greens) will no doubt try to push ‘culture war’ type issues to an extent, and media will give them more publicity than they deserve, but I am doubtful that many voters will buy into the divide and conquer style of politics that has worked elsewhere in the world.

New Zealand ‘food’ birthstones

Image

I don’t like hokey pokey ice cream. NZH:  Tip Top, Zany Zeus, Puhoi Valley: New Zealand’s best ice creams revealed – Boysenberry Ripple is very nice, I hope the multinational company that recently bought Tip Top keep producing it without changing it.

Mince pies vary a lot but some a very good. I prefer potato top – with pie carts gone you have to add your own peas these days to get pea, pie and pud.

Pineapple lumps are ok when they aren’t hard (they are often hard in our weather), but I wouldn’t buy them for myself. Some people put them in ambrosia but I prefer chopped up mini chocolate fish in the mix (with boysenberries, yoghurt and whipped cream).

I’ve never heard Cheerios called Little Boys. They’re still a standard at kids birthday parties, and as an easy ‘finger food’.

Cheese rolls are still going strong in the south at least. They are often sold as fundraisers.

Sausage sizzles have largely survived food serving regulations, fortunately.

Custard squares can be messy to eat (easier if they are not to high), but are worth the effort.

I’m ok with Vegemite over Marmite even though it’s from Australia (Aussies are allowed to have good taste with some things).

Whitebait fritters are an endangered species, or at least the main ingredient seems to be. I’m not a fan of eating whole fish.

The popularity of Jaffas has dropped since Cadburies deserted Dunedin. Not my thing. I remember them rolling down the wooden floor of the Memorial Hall as a picture theatre.

Lamingtons, raspberry or chocolate, especially with whipped cream, nice. They’ve been around for a while – an old trick was to ice a piece of rubber (and coat with coconut of course).

I had a chocolate fish for breakfast yesterday. I was rummaging in the pantry and there was just one left in the bag. I saw them being made in the Cadbury factory in the late sixties, and sampled one fresh off the line.

NZ Climate Revolution – 2023-24

An odd post at reddit:

I know that a few people keep trying to talk up political, social and economic revolutions, but this look into the future looks like wishful thinking if it is at all serious.

There is no sign of popular or widespread support for radical changes in Aotearoa, neither from the current Government nor from the public.

I can’t find anything else about GreenSoc.

Signs of disastrous Australian bushfires evident here

Bushfires continue to wreak havoc in Australia, with the death toll and property damage climbing. It has been a calamitous end to the year in a horrible fire season.

ABC:

My son is visiting – he has talked about how hard it can be to predict the fires. He was close to being caught in one in Western Australia three years ago (four people were caught and killed, one was a farmer going around warning people of the fire).

People on a beach against a dark orange haze.

PHOTO: People in Batemans Bay evacuated to the coastline amid the fire threat. (Twitter: Alastairprior)

Stuff: Naval ships, aircraft ready for Australia bushfire rescues as thousands jump in water to flee flames

The scenes at Mallacoota on Tuesday morning.

 

MARISKA ASCHER
The scenes at Mallacoota on Tuesday morning.

 

And the signs of the fires are reaching us here in New Zealand. It is overcast this morning in Dunedin but the light is eerie – this is likely due to smoke drifting across the Tasman.

Stuff: Massive currents of smoke from Australian fires reach New Zealand

Bushfire smoke from Australia is blowing across the Tasman Sea towards the South Island.

 

100 years that women have been allowed to stand for Parliament

On 19 September 1893 a new Electoral Act was signed giving women the right to vote in parliamentary elections in New Zealand. into law. It was the first self-governing country in the world to allow this.

It wasn’t until 1919, a hundred years ago today, that women were allowed to stand as candidates.

Women weren’t allowed to vote in most other democracies, including Britain and the United States, until after this.

USA:

In 1916 Alice Paul formed the National Woman’s Party (NWP), a militant group focused on the passage of a national suffrage amendment. Over 200 NWP supporters, the Silent Sentinels, were arrested in 1917 while picketing the White House, some of whom went on hunger strike and endured forced feeding after being sent to prison. Under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, the two-million-member NAWSA also made a national suffrage amendment its top priority. After a hard-fought series of votes in the U.S. Congress and in state legislatures, the Nineteenth Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution on August 18, 1920.[4] It states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Britain (Wikipedia):

In 1918 a coalition government passed the Representation of the People Act 1918, enfranchising all men over 21, as well as all women over the age of 30 who met minimum property qualifications. This act was the first to include almost all adult men in the political system and began the inclusion of women, extending the franchise by 5.6 million men[2] and 8.4 million women.[3] In 1928 the Conservative government passed the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act equalizing the franchise to all persons over the age of 21 on equal terms.

Australia gave some women the vote after New Zealand, but allowed them to stand for office before us.

In 1897, in South AustraliaCatherine Helen Spence was the first woman to stand as a political candidate.

In 1902, the Commonwealth Parliament passed the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902, which established a uniform franchise law for the federal Parliament. The Act declared that all British subjects over the age of 21 years who had been living in Australia for at least 6 months were entitled to a vote, whether male or female, and whether married or single. Besides granting Australian women the right to vote at a national level, it also allowed them to stand for election to federal Parliament.[5] This meant that Australia was the second country, after New Zealand, to grant women’s suffrage at a national level, and the first country to allow women to stand for Parliament.

But that wasn’t universal:

However, the Act also disqualified Indigenous people from Australia, Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands, with the exception of Māori, from voting, even though they were British subjects and otherwise entitled to a vote. By this provision, Indian people, for example, were disqualified to vote.

The restrictions on voting by indigenous Australians were relaxed after World War II, and removed by the Commonwealth Electoral Act in 1962.[7] Senator Neville Bonner became the first Aboriginal Australian to sit in the federal Parliament in 1971. Julia Gillard became the first female Prime Minister of Australia in 2010.

In modern Aotearoa it seems odd to have been so sexist when it comes to democracy, as all but a few of us have been born since women were given the vote and were allowed to stand for Parliament, but equality in democracy is still an issue here.

We have our third female Prime Minister, the first to have a baby while in office, but she is frequently attacked and smeared because of this.

https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/womens-suffrage

British politicians on monarchy “wouldn’t that be an appropriate time to call it a day”

Prince Andrew may have done significant damage to the British monarchy. His disastrous interview led to his brother Charles asking their mother Elizabeth to dump him from royal duties. British politicians are suggesting that once the Queen’s reign ends maybe all royal duties could be dumped.

Daily Express: End the monarchy? SNP Sturgeon demands talk on Royal Family future after Prince Andrew row

The Royal Family has been caught up in the furore surrounding Prince Andrew’s car crash BBC interview over his relationship with the disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein. In the biggest crisis the Queen has faced since the death of Princess Diana, some are now calling for a national debate over the monarchy’s future. Jeremy Corbyn has led the way with calls to rid the UK of its Royal tradition, saying that he would create a Head of State to replace the Queen.

In an interview with GMTV, Mr Corbyn said: “I think it’s time that we just moved on and said, when the Queen completes her reign, wouldn’t that be an appropriate time to call it a day and have an elected Head of State.”

And now it seems that Nicola Sturgeon has lent her support to Mr Corbyn’s republican agenda.

In an interview on ITV News At Ten on Thursday, the SNP leader argued that it was time to have a debate over the role of the monarchy.

When asked whether the Prince Andrew affair made her consider whether the monarchy is fit for purpose, she replied: “I think it raises a number of questions.

It’s most unlikely anything will happen (beyond whittling down the hangers on like Andrew) while Elizabeth remains queen, but if party leaders in the UK are openly questioning the monarchy, or saying it should end in the next decade or so, then it must have just about done it’s dash.

There’s even less need for the monarchy here on the other side of the world. It really isn’t relevant to us in Aotearoa, apart from providing a bit of hob nobbing and rubbing shoulders with royal celebrities for some of our politicians.

Prince Charles has just visited and that was very low key. I think that most of us just didn’t care.

It would be simple for us to become independent of a ruling system that hasn’t ruled for a long time, here or in Britain. We could keep something like the Governor General here, maybe renamed, for some official signing stuff and a token check on the power of politicians, but we wouldn’t need much.

I don’t think we need a president, or anything called a president. That would imply some sort of power that they shouldn’t have.

I doubt our politicians would have the gumption to drop the monarchy. Jacinda Ardern seems to like the hob nobbing. Simon Bridges seems quite conservative so I doubt he would do anything semi-radical on the monarchy.

But it could be forced on us if Britain separates it’s governance from the monarchy. If they do that it would be more ridiculous than it is now to maintain a connection that has no relevance to modern New Zealand.  they Queen hasn’t been here for yonks and won’t be back.  Princes come and shake a few hands every few years but I’m sure we could manage without that sort of poncing.

Rugby World Cup finals

On Friday night New Zealand beat Wales 40-17 to finish the Rugby World Cup with the bronze medals. The All Blacks played very well generally, bouncing back from their disappointing performance against a fired up and focussed England team in the semi-final. Wales played well at times, scoring two tries, but looked like they had run out of steam, and had lost some key players through injury.

Some of the players that missed out on the semi-final squad stepped up in their final game for the All Blacks, Ben Smith in particular who had been a surprise omission from the big games. And Sam Cane showed why he should have started the game last week. Selection mistakes may or may not have been costly against England – they played so well last week any All Bl;ack line-up would have struggled.

Last night in the final South Africa wore down England. It was a bit of a kick fest for most of the match, but they scored two very good tries in the last quarter with both wings touching down to win the final and their third world cup, beating England 32-12. They had an easier path through the play offs and had enough energy left.

England were warned they may have played their ‘final’ last week and that’s how it looked, they couldn’t lift themselves to the same heights last night. That’s not a surprise, near perfect performances usually don’t happen very often in any team sport.

England coach Eddie Jones was hailed as a hero last week, but couldn’t get his team over the final hurdle.

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus wins the plaudits this time, having turned a struggling team around in a year to take the big four yearly prize.

So congratulations to South Africa, who clearly deserved their win, and became the first team to lose a pool match and go on the win the final. The draw may have helped, but that’s sport.

Māori immigration and population

This story was on 1 News last night: Story of Polynesian voyagers who first discovered New Zealand told through animation

Long before Captain James Cook, great Polynesian voyagers first discovered New Zealand.

Now, after centuries of neglecting to tell the story of the great Pacific migration, Dunedin animator Ian Taylor is gifting the story to the nation.

Mr Taylor, the founder of Animation Research Ltd, has created a free tool that replicates the journey of revered navigator Tupaia.

“It’s incredible because I turn 70 next year and I’m only just learning this story now,” he said.

After studying the topic for decades, Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith, from the University of Otago, said the topic has been ignored for too long.

“[The voyage was] incredibly complex, and that is the scientific knowledge of Pacific people, of some of those very skilled navigators,” she said.

“It hasn’t been incorporated in our history books, and that’s sad generally for world history, but it’s particularly sad for New Zealanders.”

The tool will be used in schools around the country.

It is incredible how little we were taught about Māori history at school half a century go, and since, so this is a good project

The New Zealand wars are getting more attention now too. RNZ – Te Pūtake o te Riri: Fierce welcome for Ardern and Māori ministers

Hundreds of Māori toa, warriors, have given Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Māori ministers a fierce welcome to Ōwae Marae in Waitara for the commemorations of the New Zealand Land Wars.

Te Pūtake o te Riri, He Rā Maumahara is a national initiative to commemorate the New Zealand land wars and raise awareness of the events that shaped the country’s modern history.

Timed to coincide with the anniversary of the United Tribes of Aotearoa’s declaration of independence in 1831, Taranaki is this year’s focus after the inaugural event was held in Northland in 2018.

After a pōwhiri which ended with Ms Ardern being offered a white feather or raukura as a symbol of peace, the Prime Minister said she did not favour a national day of commemoration.

“Putting the teaching of New Zealand history into our schools, into our education system, for all our young people to learn, I think that is the most significant and important thing that we can do going forward.”

Key event organiser Ruakere Hond said the New Zealand Wars have always been about Waitara, where the first shots in the conflict were fired.

In their haka pōwhiri, the warriors paid homage to all their tūpuna who died in the New Zealand Wars around Aotearoa.

After the official welcome RNZ’s NZ Wars: Stories of Waitara series and panel discussions have been launched.

So good to get more of our own history better known.

It is believed (based on a broad range of evidence) that New Zealand’s first permanent settlements were established between 1200-1300.

NZ History:  Pacific voyaging and discovery

It was only around 3000 years ago that people began heading eastwards from New Guinea and the Solomon Islands further into the Pacific.

Great skill and courage was needed to sail across vast stretches of open sea. Between 1100 and 800 BCE these voyagers spread to Fiji and West Polynesia, including Tonga and Samoa.

Around 1000 years ago people began to inhabit the central East Polynesian archipelagos, settling the closest first.

New Zealand was the last significant land mass outside the Arctic and Antarctic to be settled.

Around the end of the first millennium CE Polynesians sailed east into what is now French Polynesia, before migrating to the Marquesas and Hawaii, Rapa Nui/Easter Island and New Zealand, the far corners of the ‘Polynesian triangle’.

The direction and timing of settlement

A broad range of evidence – including radiocarbon dating, analysis of pollen (which measures vegetation change) and volcanic ash, DNA evidence, genealogical dating and studies of animal extinction and decline – suggests that New Zealand’s first permanent settlements were established between 1250 and 1300.

These migrants, who sailed in double-hulled canoes from East Polynesia (specifically the Society Islands, the southern Cook Islands and the Austral Islands in French Polynesia), were the ancestors of the Māori people.

Sketch of Double-hulled voyaging canoe

British Library Board. Ref: 23920 f.48

This double canoe was sketched off the New Zealand coast in 1769 by Herman Spöring. It has a double spritsail rig and appears to be made from two canoes of different length and design lashed together. Archaeologist Atholl Anderson argues that the double spritsail was the most likely type of sailing rig used by the Polynesian voyagers who reached New Zealand in the 13th century.

It had earlier been believed there had been one one way ‘great migration’, with Aotearoa being discovered by chance. But it is now thought that there were many voyages, some of them in a return direction.

It makes sense that when Aotearoa was first discovered (by Kupe?) the discoverers returned to tell of the land they found, much more land than the islands they came from

Although it was once believed that the ancestors of Māori came to New Zealand in a single ‘great fleet’ of seven canoes, we now know that many canoes made the perilous voyage. Through stories passed down the generations, tribal groups trace their origins to the captains and crew of more than 40 legendary vessels, from the Kurahaupō at North Cape to the Uruao in the South Island.

If there was say an average of 50 people in each waka, times 40 that makes possibly about 2000 immigrants. There must have been many Polynesian people who immigrated here.

TEARA: Population

At the beginning of the last century New Zealand was occupied by a Maori population estimated at between 100,000 and 200,000, and by about 50 Europeans.

The actual size of the pre-European Maori population is uncertain. Captain Cook, whose first visit to New Zealand was in 1769, estimated that there were about 100,000 Maoris, but he did not visit some of the most populous inland centres, and his estimate was almost certainly low.

Can a population increase from the low thousands to hundreds of thousands in five hundred years?

Simon Chapple (NZH): How many Māori lived in Aotearoa when Captain Cook arrived?

An important question puzzling historians is how many Māori lived in Aotearoa at the time of Cook’s arrival. This question goes to the heart of the negative impacts of European contact on the size and health of the 19th-century Māori population, which subsequently bottomed out in the 1890s at just over 40,000 people.

The conventional wisdom is that there were about 100,000 Māori alive in 1769, living on 268,000sq km of temperate Aotearoa. This is a much lower population density (0.37 people per square kilometre) than densities achieved on tropical and much smaller Pacific Islands.

The Cook population estimate

It was published in a 1778 book written by Johann Forster, the naturalist on Cook’s second expedition of 1772-1775. Forster’s estimate is a guess, innocent of method. He suggests 100,000 Māori as a round figure at the lower end of likelihood. His direct observation of Māori was brief, in the lightly populated South Island, far from major northern Māori population centres.

Later visitors had greater direct knowledge of the populous coastal northern parts of New Zealand. They also made population estimates. Some were guesses like Forster’s. Others were based on a rough method. Their estimates range from 130,000 (by early British trader Joel Polack) to over 500,000 Māori (by French explorer Dumont D’Urville), both referring to the 1820s.

A second method takes the population figure from the first New Zealand-wide Māori population census of 1858, of about 60,000 people. It works this number backwards over 89 years to 1769, making assumptions about the rate of annual population decline between 1769 and 1858.

Still only a rough estimate.

The third method used to estimate a population of 100,000 Māori predicts the number forward from first arrival in New Zealand. Prediction requires a minimum of three parameters. These are the arrival date of Māori in New Zealand, the size of the founding population and the prehistoric population growth rate to 1769.

The current consensus is that voyagers from Eastern Polynesia arrived in New Zealand between 1230 and 1280 AD and then became known as Māori. However, even a 50-year difference in arrival dates can make a large difference to an end population prediction. Geneticists have estimated the plausible size of the Māori female founding population as between 50 to 230 women.

That implies far fewer immigrants than my 2000 stab.

The high population estimate is therefore nearly five times the size of the low estimate. Such a broad range is meaningless.

The third big unknown of the prediction method is the growth rate.

Indeed, historically recorded population growth rates for Pacific islands with small founding populations could be exceptionally high. For example, on tiny, resource-constrained Pitcairn Island, population growth averaged an astounding 3 per cent annually over 66 years between 1790 and 1856.

Arguments for rapid prehistoric population growth run up against other problems. Skeletal evidence seems to show that prehistoric Māori female fertility rates were too low; and mortality, indicated by a low average adult age at death, was too high to generate rapid population growth.

This low-fertility finding has always been puzzling, given high Māori fertility rates in the latter 19th century. Equally, archaeological findings of a low average adult age at death have been difficult to reconcile with numbers of elderly Māori observed in accounts of early explorers.

However, recent literature on using skeletal remains to estimate either female fertility or adult age at death is sceptical that this evidence can determine either variable in a manner approaching acceptable reliability. So high growth paths cannot be ruled out.

All of this is very vague.

Because of resulting uncertainties in the three key parameters and the 500-year-plus forecast horizon, the plausible population range for Māori in 1769 is so broad as to make any estimate meaningless.

Perhaps one reason why not much pre-European history was taught is that not much was known or recorded in a form that could be taught, especially nationally.

It wouldn’t have helped that European immigrants were more interested in their own history, pre-immigration and post immigration. And most teachers, and most pupils, were of European origin.

While there is a lot more Māori history that can and should be taught (and available to those who want to inform themselves), there also seems too be a lot of research required to fond out more about the early history of Aotearoa.