Saturday, March 09, 2019

The making of history

Another casualty of the fast-track process is history. Not only is it recast and manipulated to suit an outcome, history can also be hidden by our Official Information Act.

In 2003, Majurey, battling for Marutuahu recognition in Auckland, asked for access to the reports by historian Bruce Stirling, who Ngati Whatua had commissioned to support its Auckland claims. Ludicrously, the Office of the Ombudsman turned down the request, saying its release would "have adversely affected the relationship of trust" in the negotiations. History is commercially sensitive.

Later the Crown was shown to have concealed documents critical of Ngati Whatua's Auckland claim, including an assessment by Crown Law historian Donald Loveridge showing it did not uncritically accept the research put forward by the iwi. At the same tribunal inquiry, other historians put forward histories of Auckland that painted different pictures of what happened in the region pre- and post-1840.
What is worrying about some of the history emerging from Crown settlements is that it's not historical fact, but secret negotiation and tacit agreement. A more disturbing conclusion is the history that eventually surfaces may not be just biased, but patently wrong.

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