Anti-Cook protesters make themselves look silly

Sometimes “indigenous rights” activists make themselves look silly while trying to make a stand against celebrating Captain Cook’s visit, Hobson’s Pledge spokesperson Casey Costello said today.

Tina Ngata, who is in New York to speak to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues about New Zealand's commemoration of the 250th anniversary of James Cook's landing in Gisborne, told Radio New Zealand today that:

Cook’s landing was not a cause for celebration. Maori are still very mamae and we are still labouring under the historical and enduring rights violations as a result of the event that they are commemorating this year.

“The suggestion that Maori are labouring under any type of pain or hardship, as “mamae” means, as a result of Captain Cook’s arrival, has no foundation,” Ms Costello said.

“When was the first complaint about Cook’s arrival? It was never an issue in our family. Has a complaint about him been taken to the Waitangi Tribunal in the last 30 years? Any protest in the 1960s. Did anyone raise the issue as the Treaty of Waitangi was signed? No,” she said.

“The protests suddenly appeared when plans for the 250th anniversary appeared. The platform was created and the protesters appeared,” Ms Costello said.

Ms Costello said that the protesters are not shy about telling porkies. Ms Ngata said:

Despite Maori engagement, the kaupapa has been white-washed, down to using the word “encounters” in the title. "When somebody lands and then shoots the first person that they see, and then the next day shoots another 15, and then wants to get a closer look at a waka so they shoot everybody in the waka so they can get a closer look at it and everybody in that waka was unarmed, they were just fisher people.

“Well there has been quite a debate about this in Gisborne, and that prompted us to go back to Cook’s journal entries about his visit there,” Ms Costello said.

The journal of Captain Cook is clear. On October 9, 1769, Cook attempted to land in two small boats. Immediately, natives surged from the woods brandishing weapons. Two volleys were fired over their heads, and a third volley aimed at them killed one.

The following morning, Cook returned to find a menacing crowd brandishing clubs and pikes which began a war dance, the haka. About 30 warriors threw themselves into the water, rejected gifts, and attempted to grab weapons from Cook’s men. When one of them ran off with the astronomer’s cutlass, Cook gave the order to fire, killing another and injuring three.

A few days later there was another skirmish when Maoris in boats attempted to throw missiles and projectiles. Warned by shots over their heads which did not deter them they were fired on and two or three were killed.

“In other words, Cook’s journal is clear. Four or five Maoris were killed, the only query being if one was killed or injured, and all deaths resulted from Maori aggression. The protesters should tell the truth,” Ms Costello said.

“The unchallenged account reported by Radio New Zealand is unsupported story-telling.  If the activists wish to raise concerns then New Zealanders are entitled to know the historical facts,” Ms Costello said.

“What evidence is there that Maori lived in peace, harmony, health and prosperity until Captain Cook sailed into the East Coast bay? What evidence is there that these groups would have been in better shape today (or even survived) if Captain Cook had never reached this country?” she said.

“Implying that the visit by Captain Cook 250 years ago is to blame for Maori having the worst outcomes in health, education and justice is ridiculous,” Ms Costello said.

“Life expectancy has improved vastly with colonisation, from around 30 years in 1840 to 73.0 years for Maori males and 77.1 years for Maori females in 2013,” she said.

The publication of falsehoods can incite resentment, hatred and violence, she said.

The millions of New Zealand citizens who are proud of our shared history of hard work and sacrifice should not be denied of the opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of Captain Cook the explorer, who opened the way for the wonderful country we all enjoy, Ms Costello said.


Casey Costello             (027) 532 4959