The burnt church lie that won’t die

A lie about women and children allegedly burnt to death in a Waikato church that they sought refuge in was repeated in a news report on Friday.

Reporting on a function marking an incident that took place in Waikato on February 21, 1864, during the 19th century tribal rebellions, Stuff said “many were killed, including elderly, women and children. Some sought refuge in a church which was duly set on fire by soldiers”.

On that day, a government force of 1200 men unexpectedly entered the settlement of Rangiaowhia while bypassing about 2000 rebel fighters at a stronghold at Paterangi (about 6km northwest of Te Awamutu).

When a trooper sent into a hut to take prisoners was shot dead, a gunfight erupted resulting in the deaths of 14 people – 10 anti-government Maori and four government soldiers.

Complaints about the incident started when anti-government Maori objected to troops entering the settlement that they believed was off-limits during the conflict. Over time, the story grew to the atrocity claim repeated by Stuff.

The main problem with the claim is that the two churches that existed in Rangiaowhia on February 20, 1864, were still there long after hostilities ceased. St John’s Catholic church was dismantled in 1931 and St Paul’s Anglican is still standing.

Tom Roa, who is the associate Professor of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato, spoke at the commemoration that started with a dawn karakia service on the corner of Puahue and Rangiaowhia roads, about 5kms east of Te Awamutu.

Roa alleged that the incident was a "war crime", that “Ngati Apakura [the affected people] remains largely homeless”, and he hoped that a “reconciliation package” would be possible.

As Human Rights Commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy repeated the church-burning story in a column for Waitangi Day on February 5, 2017. She refused to retract her comments when presented with evidence that her claims were false.

Such false tales if left unchecked foster a feeling of grievance that, when combined with state dependence and irresponsibility, help create a social timebomb. 


$42m sought to ‘rid schools of racism’

Waikato University lecturer Mere Berryman is waiting for the green-light to spend $42 million to “rid our schools of racism”. Dr Berryman says that New Zealand’s education system is failing Maori students by “whitewashing and marginalising their identity”.

As reported on Maori Television, last year Berryman spoke out about racism in education sparking a backlash on social media: Berryman: “There’s a term for that – it’s called “white fragility”.

The $42 million, earmarked in the Government’s 2019-2020 education budget under the heading “Restarting Te Kotahitanga – Supporting Equitable Outcomes for Maori Learners”, “aims to support equitable outcomes for Maori learners by addressing cultural bias and racism in the education system (Te Hurihanganui) and supporting whanau to engage in the education of Maori learners (Mana Whānau)”.

Hobson’s Pledge supporters would like to see the $42-million spent on better outcomes for learners of all races, not just Maori.  

Perhaps some could be earmarked for ridding the Education system of those who spend millions on separatist Maori projects that deliver no measurable positive outcomes.

Petitions update

Our petition which asks Parliament to amend the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 to restore public ownership of the coastal area, put all claims through the High Court, and repeal customary marine title, while affirming customary rights has picked up 15,096 signatures. We need your support. The petition may be signed at

Our petition to evict protesters at Ihumatao, and for the Government to allow both Te Kawerau a Maki and Fletchers to proceed with their lawful business, has collected 2839 signatures. If you have not done so already, please sign our petition at

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