What’s the evidence that the Polynesians discovered Antarctica? None save ancient myths.

January 14, 2022 • 12:45 pm

Two days ago I discussed the contention of some Māori scholars and proponents of mātauranga Māori ,or Māori “ways of knowing”, that the Polynesians had “discovered Antarctica” in the early seventh century. (Written records show that the first confirmed discovery of Antarctica was in 1820 by a Russian expedition). If the Māori claim were true, it would not only be remarkable, but would precede what we know about the sighting of Antarctica by more than a thousand years! Moreover, since this knowledge would be part of mātauranga Māori, present governmental policy would mandate that it be taught as coequal with the “conventional knowledge” about the continent’s discovery. That’s a recipe for confusion! This whole discussion goes to the argument about “what counts as evidence?” And it appears that “evidence” in mātauranga Māori  is very different from what counts as “evidence” in modern science. In fact, the former is more akin to evidence that religious myths are true, like the claim that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Now the only evidence I had at the time was a rebuttal, written by Māori scholars, of the claims that a Polynesian canoe made of human bones “discovered” Antarctica ca 700 A.D., 600 years before the Māori came to New Zealand. That rebuttal article is below, and it’s not free. If you want a copy, make a judicious inquiry.

Now, however, I’ve managed to get hold of the original paper in Journal Roy. Soc. New Zealand (JRSNZ) that presents the “evidence” that Polynesians made it to Antarctica. Again, this paper isn’t available for free, but a judicious inquiry will yield you a copy:

In short, there’s no convincing evidence here that Polynesians discovered Antarctica, much less voyaged south of the Antarctic circle. The authors say that their method is oral tradition and scanning the “grey literature,” which as far as I can see in this case, means people who could write simply transcribing the oral traditions much later. There is no critical or scholar vetting of the “grey literature.”

The method of Wehi et al.  I quote:

In this short piece, we scan the grey literature and integrate this with oral histories known to us through extended whānau sources to provide a compiled record of Māori presence in, and perspectives of, Antarctic narratives and exploration.

That’s all for method, and I’ll summarize the one paragraph of “evidence” below—a paragraph thoroughly debunked by the Anderson et al. paper above. Wehi et al also add this:

We outline some of these human threads that connect Māori, the Indigenous people of New Zealand, to Antarctica, past and present.

The last sentence is just a long recounting in Table 1 of Māori who have been involved in Antarctic exploration, art, and management since 1993. There is no question about the veracity of this, but it takes up about 4/5 of the paper and is completely irrelevant to the contention that Polynesians discovered Antarctica, which is the issue at hand.

Well, here’s the “evidence” from oral tradition and the “grey literature” for that contention. And this is the totality of the evidence:

Early southern exploration

Polynesian narratives of voyaging between the islands include voyaging into Antarctic waters by Hui Te Rangiora (also known as Ūi Te Rangiora) and his crew on the vessel Te Ivi o Atea, likely in the early seventh century (TaraAre 2000; but see Hiroa 1964, p. 118). These navigational accomplishments are widely acknowledged; Best (1923) described Māori navigators traversing the Pacific much as Western explorers might a lake. In some narratives, Hui Te Rangiora and his crew continued south. A long way south. In so doing, they were likely the first humans to set eyes on Antarctic waters and perhaps the continent. Supporting evidence lies in the name Te tai-uka-a-pia (Smith 1899; TaraAre 2000; McFarlane 2008) which denotes the frozen ocean; a-pia means – a, as, like, after the manner of; pia, the arrowroot, which when scraped looks like snow (Smith 1899, p. 11; TaraAre 2000). Smith suggests that these accounts refer to sub-Antarctic flora, fauna and physical geography:

the rocks that grow out of the sea, in the space beyond Rapa; the monstrous seas; the female that dwells in those mountainous waves, whose tresses wave about in the water

 and on the surface of the sea; and the frozen sea of pia, with the deceitful animal of the sea who dives to great depths a foggy, misty, and dark place not seen by the sun. Other things are like rocks, whose summits pierce the skies, they are completely bare and without vegetation on them. (Smith 1899, p. 10)

Here he suggests that Southern Ocean bull-kelp the tresses that float on the monstrous waves’ – marine mammals, and icebergs respectively are visualised, all of which would have been new to Polynesian explorers.

And that’s all, folks. As you can see, it’s all based on oral tradition, and we know how reliable that is. The Māori oral tradition also claims that the gods created the world and humans de novo, so we can’t give it oral tradition that much credence.  As for the claim about a “frozen sea,” Anderson et al. suggest that it’s much more likely that the Polynesia term meant “sea foam” (have a look at their paper). They also explain the other terms (remember, Anderson et al are all Māori scholars. Finally, Anderson et al. suggest that it’s almost impossible to believe that Polynesia vessels of that era would have survived a journey to Antarctica or even the seas around it. Even less likely if they were made of human bones, as the legend maintains!

So, you see, we can discard the claim that the Polynesians discovered Antarctica because that extraordinary claim not only has no extraordinary evidence to back it up, but no convincing evidence at all. It’s 13 centuries of oral tradition. Ergo, the question can be ignored until we get hard evidence.

Why is this such a pressing issue for the Māori? If you read the paper above, or the one below in Nature Ecology and Evolution, (also by Wehi et al.), you’ll see that this ancient historical claim is being used to leverage power: power to affect Antarctic policy, power to infuse Māori insights into stewardship of the continent, and so on. Those issues are above my pay grade, and I’ll leave debate on that to others. I just want to add that, given the lack of historical precedents (or even in light of such precedents),  the Māori have no more claim over Antarctica than any other indigenous group in the Southern Hemisphere

The authors try to solidify Māori claims to Antarctic policy with this second paper (click on the screenshot). It’s more of the same, but has one humorous part (see below)

Nature Ecology and Evolution, which presents itself as a journal of modern science, published this timeline of Māori involvement in Antarctica in the paper above. I’ve circled the relevant parts.

Doesn’t this journal do fact-checking, or do they accept all dubious claims from a group if it’s “minoritized”?  They at least should say “claimed timeline” rather that “Timeline of major events in humanity’s connection to Antarctica”?

So it goes. I give all the references to the papers discussed here below the line.


Anderson, A., T O’Regan, P. Parata-Goodall, M. Stevens, and T. M. Tau. 2021.  On the improbability of pre-European Polynesian voyages to Antarctica: a response to Priscilla Wehi and colleagues Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, in press.

Wehi PM, Scott NJ, Beckwith J, Rodgers RP, Gillies T, van Uitregt W., and Watene K. 2021. A short scan of Māori journey to Antarctica. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. doi:10.1080/ 03036758.2021.1917633.

Wehi, PM, van Uitregt, V., Scott, N.J. Gillis, T. Beckwith, J. Rodgers R. P. and K. Watene. 2022. Transforming Antarctic management and policy with an Indigenous Maori lens. Nature Ecology and Evolution 5:1055-1059


44 thoughts on “What’s the evidence that the Polynesians discovered Antarctica? None save ancient myths.

  1. One can see the immediate problem with the original op-ed [ I hesitate to call it a proper peer-reviewed paper, since there’s no evidence the peer reviewers were overseas experts impartial to Maori or White NZ ideologies ]. ‘A short scan of Maori journeys to Antarctica’, before Maori even began to live in NZ from approx 1280 AD. A bit like saying Magellan and Columbus were NZ seafarers since White NZers are pretty close to Renaissance Europeans. At least the new paper correctly gives the names of the hypothesised seafarers, ‘Polynesian’, from the Lapita culture.

    1. The TV NZ news last year featured the NZ Antarctic Scott base redevelopment. NZ TV interviewed the local NZ architects, Jasmax, who went on and on about the ‘Maori design elements’ of the new buildings that ‘harmonised’ with the environment. Much the same with the NZ Herald print article that overemphasised the ‘Maori design elements’ of the architecture. Apparently, these included placing the new buildings on stilts. Well, do Maori place more buildings on stilts than other cultures who build in river and coastal environments? Nope. It’s just that with any new development, NZ TV and print media seem conditioned to slap on Maori stuff for the sake of it.
      The same Guardian writer who botched the ‘Maori discoverers of Antarctica’ RSNZ release actually gave a decent article that didn’t mention the fake Maori design elements of stilts etc :
      The original news release on the NZ Jasmax site that I saw last year seems to have been altered, with the removal of the ‘environmental genius of the Maori external architecture innovation’. This I conjecture is because the lead architect, UK Hugh Broughton, wished to be credited rather than ceding their own creativity to Maori matauranga.

      1. At least people outside of NZ will realise Cloud Cuckoo Aotearoa ‘indigenous Maori perspectives’ are irrelevant to anything in Antarctica.
        The REAL political issues with respect to Antarctic stewardship are completely alien to Priscilla Wehi et al’s universe :

        It also seems that Priscilla Wehi et al don’t have a clue as to who are the ‘real’ indigenous peoples of the Antarctic. Hint : Lionel Messi is their hero


        That started the baby boom in Antarctica. By 2009, eleven children had been born in Antarctica. Eight of them were born at the Argentinian Esperanza Base, while the other three were born at Chile’s Base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva. Chile’s first official Antarctican is Juan Pablo Camacho Martino, born on November 21, 1984.

  2. In short, the evidence for Polynesians voyaging to Antarctica is about as strong as that for Noah’s voyage on the ark.

    1. Exactly.

      I never thought I’d say this, but I hope that some NZ religious conservatives take their young earth creationist beliefs and try to get them in schools using the same arguments as the Maori “ways of knowing”. I want to see how the powers that be try to refuse that.

      You will learn ALL of the “other ways of knowing” in science class, or at least those of the groups that gripe the most. Pick the version that satisfies you the most emotionally, for that must be “true”.

      Perhaps the shock of having to teach Noah’s Ark will bring some sense back into NZ education.

    2. Yep, it’s all there in the oral tradition and the “gray literature.”
      Along with Moses carrying the tablets down from Mt. Sinai…and Mohammed ascending to heaven on a white horse….and Rama’s victory over Ravana….and whatever Odin and Loki were up to….ad infinitum.

      1. It has taken me less time on google than Usain Bolt can scarper down 100 metres of track to discover that Indians knew about the South Pole since the 7th century. True ! I mean, why stop at Maori, whoops they weren’t even born yet, I mean Polynesians skirting alleged icebergs. I mean the South Pole.

        Being a serious Matauranga Mahabharata Aotearoa scientist, I use the matauranga method of Priscilla Wehi to deduce my source is true, because my source is ‘booksfact.com’ : ergo, it is a book fact, so it is true. Also, since Indian Sanskrit is much older than NZ Maori, by at least 3000 years, it is matauranga-logical this source is more true than a later source, because it claims ‘precedence’ :
        Behold the truth of Matauranga Mahabharata’s unflinching logic :
        “Somnath Temple to Antarctica, a straight line can be drawn with no land in between. This was inscribed on a pillar (Baan Stambha) atleast since 7th century CE, which proves that Indians knew about South Pole much ahead of others.
        Somnath temple located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, India, is ancient among the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Siva. In fact, it has been mentioned in vedas and puranas.
        Skanda Purana, in a chapter on Prabhasa Khanda, describes the emergence of Somnath Jyotirlinga.
        This purana also describes the Sparsa Linga of Somnath as one bright as the sun, the size of an egg, lodged underground. The Mahabharata also refers to the Prabhasa Kshetra and the legend of the moon worshipping Shiva.
        In fact, south pole and antarctica were also mentioned in Uttara Rayamana.”

  3. The phrase ‘give them enough rope’ comes to mind. Very early in the brouhaha after our original Listener letter the authors were suggesting to each other that this would collapse under the weight of its own absurdity. It hasn’t happened yet but claims like this one may accelerate the process. Exposure of those claims to international inspection surely has to help, so thanks again Jerry.

    1. Indeed many thanks to Jerry for his ongoing critique of MM and associated topics. I fervently hope he continues.
      One important reason being that NZ media does not. Hardly a peep and if there are any comments they are heavily censored or closed off as soon as there is any political or government criticism.

      1. Yes, the almost total lack of discussion in the NZ media is seriously depressing. I’d be very surprised if the Anderson et al paper gets any coverage at all.

    2. Here, here! It wasn’t until Prof Coyne came along, hit the roof (ceiling?! – hehehe) and publicized it, thereby also letting Richard Dawkins and others know as well, that anybody noticed this outrage.
      I follow events in Australia and NZ fairly closely b/c I lived there and have relatives/friends there but I missed it.

      HOPEFULLY the weight they bring will shine a light and load some tonnage on the absurdity of it all.


    3. There is a very strong case that ‘Nature’ should publish one of their occasional general articles on this train wreck, considering ‘Nature Ecology and Evo’ published , that is passed it through ‘peer review’, this claim that a mythical ‘maori’ [ actually pre-Maori Lapita culture Polynesian ] sailor in 650 AD saw a subantarctic seascape.
      This means that ‘Nature Ecology and Evo’ considers this as historically proven as, eg, Muslim eunuch Chinese admiral Zheng He’s historically documented voyages to SE Asia, Sri Lanka, Horn of Africa. And this is wrong : cultural relativity is not evidence.
      If ‘Nature Ecology & Evolution’ messed up, then flagship Nature needs to take responsibility and air it all for the global scientific readership.
      So, who’s going to communicate with Nature’s chief editor about this?

      1. Ministry of Education’s NZ High School chemistry/biology curriculum 2020 :

        Quotes :
        1. This consolidated subject weaves together learning from the living world and material world strands of The New Zealand Curriculum. In both these strands, ākonga will develop ways of thinking and ways of working in biology and chemistry as they explore mātauranga Māori concepts of whakapapa, mauri, taiao and kaitiakitanga.

        2. These projects all have a rich mātauranga Māori thread woven through them.

  4. Significant and influential members of the Left have now converged with the Right in this one respect: they both are extremely selective about science.

    More fundamentally, they both view science not as a method not to understand the Universe, but as a mere tool to bolster their sacrosanct ideologies.

    Neither of these groups ever seems to think to use science to test whether those ideologies are valid in the first place…

    So the real divisions in society are not only between “Left” and “Right”, but between those who use science to inform their understanding of reality (which may involve changing their minds about fundamental beliefs), and those who use science only to substantiate what they already believe for other reasons.

    This may explain why I get the sense around some liberals that, despite my agreement with many of their positions, I do not feel like one of them. It’s because we think differently…even though we may share a position on something like climate change, the way in which we arrived at that position is completely different. For me, it’s a 100% scientific question that I can imagine evidence for/against. For them, it’s an emotional truth that fits in nicely with a preexisting worldview, and any science that says otherwise is not only wrong by definition but offensive.

    In those cases, I often feel more at home discussing this with a more right wing person who may have doubts about climate change but at least is debating on terms of scientific evidence that we can evaluate dispassionately.

  5. Read it (the paper in Nature Ecology and Evolution) and weep. As Jerry suggests, this is a bid for influence, relevance and money on the basis of myth.

    Several of the authors are clearly linked to educational institutions – one shudders to think what counts as knowledge in those places.

    For non-NZers: the Maori name for NZ’s North Island is Te Ika a Maui, The Fish of Maui, from a myth which explains the North Island as a giant fish caught by Maui and whose smooth surface was then contorted into its present rugged topography when Maui’s brothers began hacking at the living fish. This myth tells us that ancient Maoris had an approximate idea of the North Island’s shape – head in the south, tail in the north, fins near the middle – but the coequal of Captain Cook’s map or a more modern map, it is not, despite the claims of matauranga Maori ideologues.

    The motto of the original Royal Society was Nullius in verba; alas, the motto of the NZRS and some ‘science’ journals appears to be Quidquid in verba.

  6. In the fifties and sixties I can vaguely remember ice burgs drifting past NZ and one large one in our recent past. That said and given enough time ice burgs must have surely made land sight and possibly even investigated by a good waka (canoe) crew. It made me wonder whether my ancestors started concocting stories as to their origin and by way of explaining what they saw and where they came from… for all we know this could have been the “Antarctica” blown into a myth by oral fabrication.
    There would have been a steady stream of whales cruising off the coast in the direction the burgs came from (off to their summer feeding and mating territories and before whalers arrived and decimated the population) and back again. Is it possible Maori followed these routes, maybe. I for one think it very unlikely a party on a waka would survive such a journey let alone return.

    “one shudders to think what counts as knowledge in those places.” pretty much what you would consider as knowledge, not all are sucking this stuff up as a truth.

  7. I have no problems with Maori, or Polynesians, “knowing” that there was a land/continent to the South. After all, they were great explorers and seafarers who would have observed seals and penguins heading South, and knew both had young on land. Because of this, they could have reasoned that there had to be land somewhere South of their voyage limits.

    However, I would place this “knowledge” in a similar basket to that of Europeans who “knew” that there were southern lands or continents awaiting discovery for the reason that Southern land was required to balance the weight of the Northern continents on the globe. Maori had somewhat more evidence of a Southern land than Europeans had, but the knowledge was still based on conjecture.

    Anthropological tales are all very interesting, but evidence is required before we can consider them as anything more than legend.

  8. What these idiocies and idiots are doing, inadvertently, is showing the true supremacy of “white supremacy”. By idiocies I mean the panoply of dumbing-down occurring in science, classical music, literature, medical schools, testing, etc.

    Put differently, the compendium of knowledge put together in the West has no match in history, thus far, especially in science. Is it all its own creation? Of course not: “Arabic” numerals, which are in fact from India (including the number 0 as computational/representational digit), made modernity possible and so on.

    We are right on the edge of a question/statement attributed to Saul Bellow, which he denied ever making: “Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus?”.

    If needn’t have come to this.

    1. Archimedes – Antikythera Mechanism- al Sijzi – Copernicus – Galileo – Newton – Leibniz – Laplace – Riemann – Poincare – Noether – Maxwell – Michaelson – Einstein – Schwarzschild – Chandrasekhar – Lemaitre – Bethe – Gamow – Kerr – Hawking – Bekenstein ………….. Rangi Matamua !

      That nerdy joke above lampoons the main reason for Matauranga Maori. ‘Revered Maori astronomer Rangi Matamua, FRSNZ, PhD in Maori radio broadcasting strategy’ is the odd-one-out in the above list, because of nil contributions to cutting-edge astronomy.

      ‘Revered Maori astronomer Rangi Matamua, PhD in Maori radio broadcasting strategy’ was part of a panel in the 2021 Auckland Writers Festival alongside the Prime Minister’s science advisor, Peter Gluckman MBChB FRS ( the proper one, not the ‘Lysenkoist’ NZ chimera ). That is, the Auckland Writers Festival was attempting to showcase, as conceptually equal in esteem, Matauranga Maori science alongside one of NZ’s few proper FRS folk. ( Disclaimer : I have a complaint being assessed since October by the NZ Human Rights Commission for anti-Asian language prejudice shown by the Auckland Writers Festival )

      The rather obvious strategy of the strident NZ Maori-White ‘biculturalists’ is to devise a bicephalous NZ history and science, where ‘Maori achievements in Antarctica are the equal to anyone else, and even discovered Antarctica first’.
      As well, ‘Maori navigational skills’ courses are taught in many schools, and seem to be given in many cases precedence over learning navigation by GPS. ‘Revered Maori astronomer Rangi Matamua, FRSNZ, PhD in Maori radio broadcasting strategy’, is now a full professor at an Auckland university, presumably devising more elements of this ‘cultural pride’ bicephalitic indigeno-epistemology. One of its alleged benefits is to allegedly improve Maori tertiary graduation rates in STEM subjects.
      Indians and Chinese like me in NZ, well, we just learn calculus.

  9. I guess that if anyone, the most likely to have sighted Antarctica prior to the expedition in the written record would have been the Patagonia natives. So, let the Mapuche ways of knowing dispute the priority of their discovery with the Maoris.

  10. The lead author of the two mumbo-jumbo papers (not the good one by Anderson et al) is Priscilla Wehi, who is currently director of Te Pūnaha Matatini, the “Aotearoa New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence for Complex Systems”, a post previously occupied by Shaun Hendy. I had vaguely thought that this was intended to be something like a local version of the Santa Fe Institute, but I fear I was mistaken. They are responsible for the official COVID-19 modelling in NZ, and seem to use pretty standard methods for that – SEIR & stochastic – with no hint of matauranga. Prof Wehi was also one of the commenters on that Antarctica carbon deposit paper that our host drew attention to a while back. https://www.sciencemediacentre.co.nz/2021/10/07/study-links-antarctic-ice-records-with-early-maori-settlement-expert-reaction/

    Re oral history, I was reminded by this of the news coverage a few years ago of a study attempting to use DNA evidence to shed light on where Māori originated and how they arrived in NZ. It was pretty interesting stuff, but some Māori were quoted to the effect that if the evidence conflicted with their traditional narratives, so much the worse for the evidence, since they knew their oral history to be true.

    1. Te Pūnaha Matatini (TPM): The research funding schemes run through the RSNZ require applicants in all fields to complete detailed sections on Maori interests, relevance, the extent to which Maori figure in the research, and such. TMP just as everyone in our universities knows this. Where possible, one includes a Maori colleague and a Maori perspective. ‘Not applicable’ is risky.
      There is an enormous industry around this in NZ. It is so lucrative and so pervasive that it will be a difficult road right now for young Maori scholars to put their research ahead of the cultural demands that our universities place on them. Then there are the demands of the tribes, too, to ‘represent our people’. Scholarship for its own sake is hard and rough, and the carrot the young academics are offered is that it is okay to be an activist instead.
      Doesn’t the recent redefinition of ‘research’ for PBRF by Wendy Larner and Linda Smith codify this?

      1. You’re referring to this?

        It does look as if the rot is far more extensive than just changes to the NCEA. A “more capacious definition of research excellence” indeed!

        I did try to read Linda Smith’s book “Decolonizing Methodologies”, now in its 3rd edition, but could barely make it through the introduction.

  11. I think I read about a vote in a few years to change the name from NZ to Aotearoa which will not pass (damn I HOPE it doesn’t). NZers think the rest of the world recognizes the name but in fact, outside the Pacific islands and the (well travelled cosmopolitan) intelligentsia of the Anglosphere, nobody actually does.

    As a(n increasingly bewildered) lefty myself I thought our side was about tearing down walls, not building linguistic ones up between peoples.

    (formerly of Aust./NZ)

    1. I don’t think there’s a planned vote. Te Pāti Māori (formerly known as The Māori Party) issued a petition for a name change which got around 60,000 supporters quite quickly.

      A subsequent TV poll showed 58% wanting to keep NZ only, with only 9% wanting Aotearoa only. Although the use of Aotearoa is increasingly common in the media and amongst the wokesters, they’re not representative. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who calls the country Aotearoa on a regular basis, and the chances of a referendum, for which there are no plans, changing it are pretty much zero. Even a recent referendum to change the national flag for a new one without the Union Flag in the corner, which even I supported, was solidly defeated.

      I agree that almost nobody outside of NZ knows the name Aotearoa. People delude themselves. I’ve even seen claims that the increasing the spread of matauranga Maori will raise NZ’s reputation by making it a world leader in the field of “Indigenous Knowledge” – IK to the cognoscenti.

      1. More to the Aotearoan imbecility du jour, Andrew, I wonder why Priscilla Wehi et al didn’t unearth a Maori name for ‘Antarctica’?
        After all, surely that would have been a Matauranga slam dunk case for ‘Antarctica’ if oral tradition had a Maori name for something big and rocky well south?
        Ah, the lack of a historical name must be proof Maori didn’t discover Antarctica? 🙂

        1. In a similar vein to Maori not having an indigenous name for Antarctica, I once encountered a Maori male, in my professional role, who insisted that all recent scientific advances were originally Maori in origin. His particular beef was that Pakeha did not recognise that Maori had invented both the internal combustion engine and the motor vehicle. According to him, both Benz and Ford had copied what were originally Maori ideas.

          He was unable to provide Maori terminology for the internal combustion engine, or for the motor vehicle production line, and could not name any vehicles designed and produced in New Zealand (there actually were some…)

          My later follow-up showed that he was admitted compulsorily under the Mental Health act.

          Sometimes belief has no relationship to science or reality.

  12. Jerry Coyne is the best commentator. Only outside intervention will save NZ from this stupidity. Any academic in NZ who speaks up is called racist, and their career is sabotaged. It’s like McCarthyism in the USA, when people were petrified of being called communist. The NZ Skeptics, the NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists, the Royal Society and the Tertiary Education Union have all gone down the woke drain. Keep punching, Jerry!

    1. Certainly true that non-NZ sources such as JAC, Dawkins, and hopefully in time at least some of the major science journals will also intervene.
      However, what I see far too frequently in these blogs and other places is the wholesale deployment of the term ‘woke’, where often this is not the most applicable gradient.
      In the NZ case, wokeness is a factor, but surely no more so than Aus and the UK.
      NZ’s problem in terms of the tide turning against rationalism and liberal secularism is not wokeness so much as blunt force ETHNO-NATIONALISM. Calling it woke is intellectually lazy, fellow NZ readers of this blog.

      I concede I’ve posted egregiously much on these blogs, but my reason is to bring out the Asian voice. Really, fellow NZ readers, out of the 750000 Asians in NZ, how many do you know who will type out, or say in public, anything against Maori-White ethno-nationalist lunacy? So, ask yourselves, when there are so many Asians in NZ with doctorates, why aren’t they active in the civil society commons about issues that JAC has raised? Bicultural Maori-White supremacism is hardly an improvement over White supremacism for Asian or Pacific residents of NZ.

      I’ll answer this partly for all NZ readers of this site. White NZers will not take the simple step of articulating that a secular liberal democracy needs to be multi-ethnic AND avowedly multi-cultural. Instead, Asians and even Pacific Islanders metaphorically roll their eyes at White people just whining ‘woke’. And, banging on about ‘one law for all’ is NOT the same at all as a legal recognition of secular ‘multiculturalism’ : America had ‘one constitution for all’ in the Jim Crow south, and Aus & NZ had anti-Chinese poll taxes for many decades when these nations were ‘one law for all’.

      Nothing about ‘Maori-White cultural equality’ or this ‘co-equality’ [ a superfluity like ‘Auckland University of Technology University’ ] would have a legitimised basis if there was legal recognition of multiculturalism, such as a variant of the Canadian Multicultural Act 1987, or the Australian Federal Declarations of Multiculturalism. This is because if a nation is legally multicultural, there is an established legal precedent ( at least arguably ), that say, a grant application that requires anything to show a demonstrably Maori component/benefit/ principle would be ruled illegitimate if it treated one ethnicity or ethnic culture far more favourably than another ethnic culture which also has a significant local presence.

  13. From the Nature ecology article:
    “We argue that an Indigenous Māori framework centring relational thinking and connectedness, humans and non-human kin, and drawing on concepts of both reciprocity and responsibility, offers transformational insight into true collective management and conservation of Antarctica.”
    These are the same Maori who exterminated the NZ bird megafauna and kept slaves of another Polynesian people during their settlement in the Auckland islands. No wiser and no worse than humans anywhere. Transformational insight indeed.

  14. Also from the Nature Ecology and Evolution article. “Similarly, accounts of the flora, fauna and physical geography indicate sub-Antarctic as well as likely Antarctic visitation by Hui Te Rangiora and his crew (Fig. 1); thirteenth century Māori sub-Antarctic exploration is well-established archaeologically(ref 7).” Antarctic visitation is now “likely”. Sub-Antarctic in this case is the Auckland Islands, latitude around 50° S, and the author of reference 7 “Subpolar settlement in South Polynesia” is the very same Atholl Anderson who wrote the paper saying that a Māori visit to Antarctica had almost certainly not happened.

  15. Now that’s a circus, phony claims of Maori conflicting those of another indigenous group! Next, I want the Moriori survivors to speak up against the aggressive, colonialist and genocidal Maori culture, and to demand reparations.

  16. Just for your attention:
    Last Wednesday I had to discover that even NATURE no longer draws a clear dividing line between modern science and ‘indigenous knowledge’. In the daily briefing I found this short article, announced under ‘Weaving Indigenous knowledge into the scientific method’.
    It looks very much like another institution, regarded as a bastion of classical scientific thought is beginning to erode. A pathologist might describe this process as malignant, infiltrating growth.


    1. And this is a good deal less encouraging. I asked the author of this, a Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics:

      for his opinion of the Newsroom article and he pointed me at this:

      The following passage struck me as almost Orwellian in its implication that academic freedom positively requires the suppression of views you don’t agree with.

      “For example, white/Pākehā academics making comment on mātauranga Māori in defence of “science” don’t need to use academic freedom because the westernized institution of science already has disproportionate power and influence in any clash with indigenous knowledge systems. So when a university takes a neutral position, treating the academic protagonists and academic responders equally based on narrow ideas of a right to free speech, the institution stumbles as critic and conscience of society. Moreover, it fails to both preserve and enhance academic freedom.”

      1. Well Andrew, you could ask Heinemann, the author of that article, why he claims ‘Aotearoa is governed by two peoples’? Does he mean NZ is governed by Whites and Maori, which means in Auckland where I live, 46% of the people [ 28% Asian, 16% PI, 2% Middle East/AFrican/Latin ] are governed by the other 54%? Or does he mean ‘Whites, Pacific Islanders, Asians, Africans and Arabs’ comprise ‘one people’? In any country of the world except NZ, this statement would be termed a ‘reductio ad absurdum’, but in the Aotearoa mentality, this presumably is ‘bicultural logic’.

        I note that U Canterbury blog article mentions Maori again and again, yet ignores all the Asians who contribute disproportionately to NZ’s academic and tech workforce. I wonder what Heinemann’s sophistry might be to state that Asians / MELAA making comment on Maori matters ‘don’t need to use academic freedom because the westernised institution of science already has disproportionate power and influence in any clash with indigenous knowledge systems’?

        Here’s a real life example from the U Auckland. A couple of years ago I attended the inaugural professorial lecture of Greg Booth, an American whose field of expertise has always been the music of the Indian subcontinent. The audience, unsurprisingly, was about half Indian. Booth turned up in South Asian dress, and addressed his White grandchildren with some words in Hindi.
        And then, the UoA Maori chap from the divinity department, whose name escapes me, came to the front and greeted Booth formally from the UoA, on and on and on in Maori. After the end of ceremonies, I went up to Booth’s head of department, plus a couple of senior UoA management staff pointed out to me, and I stated, why was it necessary for the UoA to get someone to drone on and on in Maori when the professor’s field of expertise was India, and the majority of the public who attended were obviously Indian? Surely Indo-European Sanskrit was the logical ritual language for formalities from the university? Why should Maori ritual take centre stage, particularly when 30% of Auckland’s local and central government taxes are paid for by Asians, which is far far more than any tax monies paid for by Maori in Auckland? If Asians pay so much tax in Auckland, why aren’t Asian languages and ceremonial belief systems recognised by the U of Auckland — even when the professor is the university’s expert in Indian culture?
        Well, I didn’t receive any answer from the three White UoA senior staff I posed this entirely reasonable question, and was made to feel, ahem, rather unwelcome.

        1. Hey Ramesh, I wasn’t meaning to re-ignite the biculturalism discussion. Maybe we should do as our host requested and give it a rest. Cheers.

  17. Shocking. Why the need to validate your culture in this way? I have however seen a similar thing with regard to Deaf culture. An article & later video clip claimed a Deaf sculptor did work on the statue of Nelson in Trafalgar Sq. I found no evidence that this was the case.

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