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‘The miserable remnant of this ill-used people’: colonial genocide and the Moriori of New Zealand's Chatham Islands

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Genocide scholars have not engaged with the killing of the Moriori people of New Zealand's Chatham Islands by two Māori iwi (tribes). New Zealand historians who have discussed Moriori have not used the paradigms and language of genocide studies. This article argues that Moriori were victims of genocide, and that their experience both challenges and deepens how colonial genocide is understood. Narratives of colonial genocides that assume the destruction of an indigenous people by a colonizing power are inadequate for understanding events on the Chathams, as are genocidal frameworks that assume perpetrators must be state actors. The colonial role was important but indirect: the encounter of Māori with Britain and Australia provided the physical and ideological tools that made the Moriori genocide possible. Māori behaviour on the Chathams diverged from tradition, with the racial tropes, destructive behaviours and justification for invading the Chathams all acquired through the colonial spread of British people into Polynesia. More recently, the use of imported imagery and politicization of the Moriori experience has revealed the consequences of successive generations’ failure to properly remember or even identify the genocide.

Publication Date


  • 2015

Citation


  • Brett, A. (2015). ‘The miserable remnant of this ill-used people’: colonial genocide and the Moriori of New Zealand's Chatham Islands. Journal of Genocide Research, 17 (2), 133-152.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85014885422

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/3557

Number Of Pages


  • 19

Start Page


  • 133

End Page


  • 152

Volume


  • 17

Issue


  • 2

Place Of Publication


  • United Kingdom

Abstract


  • Genocide scholars have not engaged with the killing of the Moriori people of New Zealand's Chatham Islands by two Māori iwi (tribes). New Zealand historians who have discussed Moriori have not used the paradigms and language of genocide studies. This article argues that Moriori were victims of genocide, and that their experience both challenges and deepens how colonial genocide is understood. Narratives of colonial genocides that assume the destruction of an indigenous people by a colonizing power are inadequate for understanding events on the Chathams, as are genocidal frameworks that assume perpetrators must be state actors. The colonial role was important but indirect: the encounter of Māori with Britain and Australia provided the physical and ideological tools that made the Moriori genocide possible. Māori behaviour on the Chathams diverged from tradition, with the racial tropes, destructive behaviours and justification for invading the Chathams all acquired through the colonial spread of British people into Polynesia. More recently, the use of imported imagery and politicization of the Moriori experience has revealed the consequences of successive generations’ failure to properly remember or even identify the genocide.

Publication Date


  • 2015

Citation


  • Brett, A. (2015). ‘The miserable remnant of this ill-used people’: colonial genocide and the Moriori of New Zealand's Chatham Islands. Journal of Genocide Research, 17 (2), 133-152.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85014885422

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/3557

Number Of Pages


  • 19

Start Page


  • 133

End Page


  • 152

Volume


  • 17

Issue


  • 2

Place Of Publication


  • United Kingdom