Martin Doutré’s ‘Uncensored’ article is long, rambling and very difficult to critique. Not because it is filled with interesting claims backed up with good arguments but because it meanders, it conflates and is generally obtuse, ill-thought out and badly written. The first page alone commits several fallacies and fails to make a case for an alternative pre-history of Aotearoa.
Yet, it was published.
I can’t really speculate as to why Jonathan Eisen, the editor of ‘Uncensored,’ felt that this piece was worth publishing; given what else I’ve read of ‘Uncensored’ I can’t really tell what method they have for deciding what is printable and what is not; it may well be that ‘Uncensored’ is purely a contrarian magazine, designed to publish the material that is normally considered unpublishable.
Yet that seems too clever a motivation; ‘Uncensored’ seems more like the gutter of the gutter press than some clever, post-modern attempt to air alternative views.
Anyway, that is really beside the point; given the largeness of Doutré’s article I cannot, for the love of all that I hold dear, deal with it in one post. So I’ll just do it piecemeal and we can all hope that, eventually, I get to the end of it. In a few months time the next one will be out; by then I might have written a book by way of commentary on the first.
Doutré starts his article with the assertion that it is common knowledge amongst Maori that when they got here there was a large, pre-established caucasoid population who were known as the Patu-pairehe, the Turehu and the Pakapakeha. He then claims that these people taught the Maori arts and crafts and lived among them until hostilities broke out and the original inhabitants were enslaved. Traces of the Patu-pairehe were still evident in the early twentieth century, known as the Waka-blonds, red-haired, freckled faced ‘Maori.’
What is interesting about Doutré’s ‘historical’ account is how it so easily mixes fact with not just fiction but some weird elaborations.
Stories of the tangata whenua, the people of the land, are told in respect to the arriving of the first (major) migration; when the waka arrived there was a reported established population already living in Aotearoa. Now, we do not know if it was a large population but it is fairly clear that whoever they were, they were of th same people that we now know of as Maori; the oral traditions tell us that the newly arrived Maori could not only communicate with the tangata whenua but that some of them were family members. This suggests that the most plausible explanation for this tangata whenua is that they were the people who not only managed to navigate to Aotearoa but were also able to send home of its location and thus start the process that lead to the major wave of colonisation by their people.
Doutré, however, asserts that this tangata whenua population was caucasoid. He then refers to them by their ‘tribal’ names of the Patu-pairehe, the Turehu and the Pakapakeha. This makes it clear that he is conflating the tangata whenua story with the local myths of what Pakeha might call the fey folk, the fairy peoples of Maori mythology. The Patu-pairehe, the Turehu and the Pakapakeha are the names given to mythological human-like entities. They had pale skin, red hair and red eyes (something Doutré fails to mention). They share the same kind of characteristics as fey folk from other cultures1. What is more important to note here is that these Patu-pairehe, Turehu and Pakapakeha are treated as being mythological by Maori; the notion that they represent very real hapu or iwi in Aotearoa is European. It is likely that the first Europeans in this country simply took talk of the fey folk as representing talk of real peoples, in that same respect that some people will take talk of the Irish fey folk as referring to some ancient demi-human population.
The claim that this population was then wiped out by the Maori is, at best, hearsay and, at worst, fabrication.2 Doutré also claims the Patu-pairehe were known as the people of the mist but this seems to be conflating the mythological origin of the people of Tuhoe with the Patu-pairehe, et al. I imagine that Doutré isn’t very conversant with Maori history; his sources are mostly the writings of the early European ‘anthropologists’ and he spends a lot of time trying to justify using these early accounts on some weird naive empiricist notion that the early Pakeha were only interested in reporting the truth rather than being interested in, you know, providing justification for the occupying and colonising of Aotearoa.
But I digress into my race traitorousness.
Doutré claims that the proof of this old and established caucasoid population can be found in the reports of the so-called ‘waka-blonds,’ remembered by some (unnamed and unreferenced) ‘old timers.’ The waka-blonds are/were the red-haired, freckle faced ‘Maori’ ‘known’ to exist in the early twentieth century3. Reports at the turn of the twentieth century are not useful, however; by that time the Maori and Pakeha populations were intermingled; what you would need to make this claim even slightly suggest his hypothesis is reportage of ‘caucasoid’ Maori at first contact, and even then that won’t do as much work as Doutré would expect it to because Maori are not homogenous in their skin tone or morphology (I am beginning to sound like a Victorian racist; I apologise). Members of Kai Tahu, for example, are very pale in comparison to their more northern kin, but that doesn’t mean that they are caucasian in origin. It just means the environment in which they live (the cold, not so bright South Island) isn’t conducive to high melanin levels4.
As it stands, Doutré’s account of Aotearoa’s pre-history is fatally flawed from the get go. Still, there is a lot more to say about his article, especially his claims about the Egyptian god Bes.
- I suspect that the appearance of the Patu-pairehe, the Turehu and the Pakapakeha can be explained away as by the rare occurrence of albinos in the Polynesian population. A recent Fortean Times article, dealing with the albino population in Nigeria, made a similar claim; this is something that, if I had more time., I’d like to look into.↩
- DoutrÃ© may have some ‘documentary’ support, in that there are two south island iwi, the Waitaha and Ngati-Mamoe who have stories associated with them claiming a longer pre-history than the conventional wisdom tells us. However, these alternative histories are hotly disputed even by the iwi themselves.↩
- Now, given just how well the Pakeha and the Maori got on (carnally) it’s not surprising that there were a lot of red haired, freckled face Maori. I blame the Irish, personally. I have Irish ancestry and it shows (Irish hair). Certainly, this is a much more plausible rationale for these ‘waka blonds’ than them being the remnants of some much older caucasoid population.↩
- Doutré does refer to earlier accounts; reports of fair-haired, pale-skinned Polynesians and the like, but the accounts themselves are vague (pale in comparison to other Polynesians or pale like a Palagi?). However, anecdotes do not an argument make.↩