Northern Advocate apology

It looks like being a day of media apologies.

The Northern Advocate has apologised for publishing an article that claimed people from Wales and the Mediterranean settled New Zealand before Maori did. See The white tangata whenua

From The Hui:

APOLOGY FROM THE NORTHERN ADVOCATE REGARDING AN ARTICLE WHICH CLAIMED TO SHOW ANCIENT PRE-MĀORI FACES RE-CREATED FROM SKULLS FOUND IN THE NORTH.

The story was published by the Northern Advocate and shared with the NZ Herald.
The Northern Advocate accepts it was wrong to publish Mr Hilliam’s theory of pre-Maori occupation before receiving information from the university that Mr Hilliam cited as a source of his reconstructed drawings.

We had contacted the university, from whom we initially did not hear back, and wrongly chose to publish Mr Hilliam’s opinion without its response.

The notion of pre-Maori occupation is a sensitive one — something of which the paper has become acutely aware.

We regret the story has been a catalyst for some people to infer political or racial motives.

There was no motive behind the publication of the story other than to contribute to the ongoing healthy debate about Northland’s rich history.

We are not experts on Maori matters but we respect tikanga and, in general, enjoy a good, robust relationship with local tangata whenua.

We strive to report positive Maori stories, and we are proactive in highlighting the success of Maori youth. For instance, a Whangarei man received the Te Toa Reo Maori – Takitahi (Individual Achievement) award at the Maori Language Commission’s Nga Tohu Reo Maori in December, after the paper nominated him for the award.

And we share the optimism of Nga Puhi that the treaty settlement will bring good things for Northlanders.

We have learned many lessons from this story, which has also embarrassed our matua within the NZ Herald.

We are continuing to work on bringing balance to Mr Hilliam’s theories and will share this with our readers as soon as this work is completed.

Northlanders — and New Zealanders — should be open to debate about the past, the present and the future. But there is a right way to encourage any such debate. We did it the wrong way, for which we apologise.

This looks like a fair comment:

Atakohu Middleton There is absolutely nothing to debate. Hilliam’s theories have been debunked countless times. The issue is that the Northern Advocate didn’t do its homework.

The white tangata whenua

Last week the Northern Advocate published some revised history claiming that white people from Europe settled Aotearoa before Maori came here.

Northern Advocate (NZ Herald): Pre-Maori faces created from skulls, says Northland historian

A Northland historian has released what he says are forensic reconstructions of pre-Maori Northlanders that support his theory that Chinese and European seafarers came to New Zealand centuries before Polynesians.

Kaipara based historian Noel Hilliam says a forensic expert from Edinburgh University has reconstructed features using skulls retrieved from heaps of ancient human bones that were once piled in caves at several sites around the Kaipara.

The faces depict a blond woman with Celtic characteristics common in Wales and a man of Mediterranean appearance.

Kaipara skeletons were found with strands of red hair and a London pathologist who examined them in 1997 did not consider them Polynesian.

In a message to Mr Hilliam, the Edinburgh pathologist said his examination of skulls and skeletal remains from four sites showed they were from two races.

“People known in your country as Turehu originated from Wales over 3000 years ago and those known as Waitaha originated from the Mediterranean,” the pathologist said.

“The two skulls you randomly uplifted from one site – the female, which I named Henrietta, is Turehu of 23 years of age and 1.3m tall going on the average height of skeletons I examined. She originates from Wales.

“The Waitaha male is 34 years old 1.65m tall, average among the skeletal remains examined, and originates from the Mediterranean.”

The historian has not disclosed the names of the pathologist and forensic expert because he expected controversy over their findings.

These sorts of claims are not new. From Dargaville and Districts News (Stuff) in 2012: `Greeks got here first’

New Zealand history is going to be turned on its head when the book To the Ends of the Earth is launched next month, co-author Noel Hilliam says.

The controversial book, written by researcher Maxwell C Hill with additional information from Dargaville shipwreck explorer Noel Hilliam, Gary Cook and John Aldworth, looks at what they say is evidence that Greeks, Spanish and Egyptians travelled to New Zealand before Maori.

The 378-page book explores a variety of evidence from ancient maps to ancient rock formations, giant human skeletons, cave drawings, oral history and a multitude of other physical evidence.

“Our contention is that ancient Greek navigators were the first to sail down under, landing in New Zealand before the Christian era began, to become the first inhabitants of the islands,” Mr Hilliam says.

Now Hilliam claims it was the Welsh who got here first.

Newshub details other claimed discoveries: From a non-Māori Maui to Spanish shipwrecks: Who is Noel Hilliam?

And reports: Amateur historian admits grave-robbing Maori burials

Noel Hilliam told the Northern Advocate he had found skulls that pre-date Māori.

However Mr Hilliam’s research, which has no academic basis, has been widely criticised.

“The statement that the young adult woman is from Wales is ludicrous. There is no way to find that information out from the skull size and shape, nor is it possible to tell that a person has blue eyes and blonde hair from skeletal features,” University of Otago bio-archaeologist Dr Siân Halcrow told Vice.

Worse, his actions have been condemned as racist and illegal.

“It is the violation of a sacred site. Them raiding urupā and acquiring ancestral heads – they haven’t said where from – makes me really concerned,” Auckland University senior lecturer Dr Ngarino Gabriel Ellis told Vice.

“Taking from urupā, just like from anyone’s [grave], is a violation of our funeral practices. These are our ancestors. They were not intended to be removed and distributed.

“It’s also illegal to go and tamper with anyone’s grave – so why aren’t there criminal charges being pressed?”

Mr Hilliam has refused to name the ‘experts’ he talked to, and told Vice that while he knew he was breaking the law, he did it because the law was unjust.

The Northern Advocate has since removed the article.

I couldn’t find the article yesterday but it is back on the Herald’s beta site.

The Spinoff: The white tangata whenua, and other bullshit from the ‘One New Zealand’ crew

Over the past 30 years a growing a minority of New Zealanders has decided that the first inhabitants of their country had white rather than brown skin. They believe that one or more European peoples emigrated to these islands thousands of years ago, and established a populous and technologically sophisticated civilisation here. This pigmentopia was invaded and conquered by the ancestors of Māori. The warlike Polynesians slew the white men they found, took the women as wives, and appropriated the indigenes’ greenstone carvings.

Mike Barrington’s article may have talked nonsense about New Zealand history, but it did provide a reasonably accurate narrative of the careers of the country’s pseudo-historians.

Hilliam has made other remarkable claims over the years. In 1982 he said he had found the remains of an old Spanish ship on a beach near Dargaville, but the wreck vanished before he could show it to anybody. In 2008 he told Radio New Zealand that he had found a Nazi submarine off the Northland coast. The submarine had supposedly left Germany in the last days of the Third Reich, loaded with gold. Hilliam never made good on his promise to reveal the location of the submarine wreck.

The notion of a white tangata whenua promised to relieve Pakeha of their status as latecomers to New Zealand, and to counter Māori talk of historical injustice. But the theory had, and still has, a problem: a complete lack of evidence.

In recent years a series of scholars have run DNA tests on Māori, in an effort to trace their ancestry. These tests confirm that Māori are a Polynesian people, and that Polynesians have their origins in coastal Asia thousands of years ago. There is no genetic evidence for ancient contact between Polynesians and Europeans.

The believers in an ancient white civilisation are undeterred by the lack of evidence for their claims. They insist that a conspiracy of Māori leaders, politically correct academics, cowardly Pākehā politicians and sinister international organisations is working to conceal and destroy the physical legacy of New Zealand’s first inhabitants. They claim that the stone city in Waipoua forest has been closed to visitors by Department of Conservation staff and local Māori. Elsewhere teams of explosives experts are blowing up the stone houses of the first New Zealanders and sealing burial caves. Ancient European bones and artefacts are being quietly removed from museums, and roads are being built through the sites of Celtic observatories.

I guess the Herald will remove the article from their beta site as well.