Friday, 9 January 2015

The fate of the Moriori: A lesson in history

 The Moriori, third class warriors, but a first class main course  
The Moriori protesting against fine dining
There are those who aver that the Moriori were the original inhabitants of New Zealand, and on the prospect of a whim, migrated to the Chatham Islands just off the coast of the North /South Island sometime in the 16th century. Initially the founders practiced the custom of their people and war between folk was endemic. But then arose a wise tribal Elder of the name, Nunuku-whenua. He interposed his impressive countenance  between the warring factions and proposed eternal peace. Not because of any pacific motives, as such, but in the name of sound common interest. The unceasing wars and strife caused unrelenting hardship to all folk and none could profit. By a remarkable quirk of fate, the tribes of the land embraced his law, although some, bellicose of nature, did demure, at first. But soon the fruits of peace became apparent. Resources were no longer squandered on squabbles. Men could apply their hands to obtaining and harvesting the bounty of the land and sea for their family and kin. The skill of war became lost. This did not matter as everyone could see that living in harmony benefitted all. Disputes, selfishness, or narrow of interest did not disappear, after all we are dealing with the nature of man. This was acknowledged. A great council was convened and was comprised of men who thought they were wise. In truth these men were those who had profited greatly from the peace and thus had accumulated much wealth. When folk, tribes or communities quarrelled their grievances were paraded before the 'The Great Elders'. Such was their power, which stemmed not from the spear or the club, that strong men and those more numerous accepted their deliberation as if delivered by a Chieftain parading a 1,000 warriors.

One day a boat was espied on the horizon. It contained refugees from wars in the land of Aotearoa. When they landed they were helpless and in pitiful plight. The Moriori, true to their new grown principles, administered succour and nurtured the interlopers unto their breast. As the dispossessed became well, they surveyed the land and people with a covetous glance. They saw that the inhabitants had lost the skill of war and being warlike in nature and barbaric themselves, they contrived a plan to rob this most peaceful and noble of people of their land and their breath. Furthermore, they noted that the Moriori would make fine dining, especially the young.

Once the killing began, the council held a sacred conclave. The debate was long and acrimonious. There were some who wanted to arm the men and resist the usurper. The Great Elder would hear none of this. The ban on war was law, and without law what is man? Some argued that the law should be like a supple branch which bends and changes in the wind. In times of calm, where is there the need for change? But when the wind doth blow, the sapling must bend. Without suppleness the sapling will snap and die. The Elder was adamant and clothed in fine feathers, and stone, he cut an imposing figure, of which there is no doubt. So it was passed that the Moriori would appease the Maori (who did you think it was?) and the finest amongst the Moriori, but not the Elders, would approach the Maori for a frank and profitable discourse; they were never seen again.....

Maori warriors ready for supper

Most of the Moriori were killed, some enslaved and many eaten. As for the Elders? They claimed business elsewhere and clambered on ships with their baubles and disappeared over the blue horizon, never to be seen again.......

Those who espouse peace become slaves