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Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

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This is an Open Letter to New Zealand Herald journalist Wayne Thompson over the free publicity he is giving to anti-semitic and anti-Maori conspiracy theorists.

Kia ora Wayne,

I am writing to you about your article titled 'Call to Save Hilltop Boulders', which appeared on page seven of the New Zealand Herald on Wednesday the sixth of May.

In this article you describe the opposition by Martin Doutre and Russell Ireland to the proposed destruction of a couple of boulders at Silverdale by a building team. You give extensive space to Doutre's and Ireland's view that the boulders are remnants of a massive structure built by an ancient white civilisation that existed in this country before the coming of the ancestors of the Maori.

I think that your article seriously misrepresents the nature of Doutre's and Ireland's views, and the status of their views amongst scholars of New Zealand history and prehistory. You give the impression that Doutre and Ireland are credible researchers into New Zealand's past, when in fact they are politically-motivated conspiracy theorists with no credibility in New Zealand's scholarly community.

The misrepresentations begin with the caption that is attached to the photograph of the boulders above your article. The caption says 'ENIGMA: Russell Ireland says the stones served a fair-skinned pre-Maori society as a calendar'. The word 'ENIGMA' gives the impression that the placement of the boulders is some sort of mystery which scholars are struggling to explain, when in fact their explanation presents no problem to any geologist.

You go on to describe the views of Martin Doutre and Russell Ireland at some length. You cite Doutre's book Ancient Celtic New Zealand, and paraphrase its claims that an advanced white civilisation constructed a vast system of open-air observatories not only in New Zealand but also in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Bosnia. You repeat Doutre's claim that the boulders at Silverdale are part of a set of ancient structures arranged across the Auckland region according to complex mathematical guidelines. You also echo Doutre's claim that Maori legends of a race of fairy folk, or patu paiareihe, are a record of ancient white residents of New Zealand.

You neglect to mention that Doutre has no qualifications in any of the many academic fields in which he claims expertise, that he has never presented a paper at an academic conference, that he has never published an article in a refereed journal, and that he had to pay for the publication of Ancient Celtic New Zealand, a book which received withering reviews by a series of serious scholars in refereed journals.

You do not mention that Doutre's belief that a massive, highly advanced civilisation existed thousands of years ago in New Zealand is unsupported by the archaeological record, which does not find vast cities or the burial grounds of ancient Celts deep beneath our soil. You fail to acknowledge that Doutre's claim that the piles of stones that lie around Auckland are connected by mathematical equations rests on his use of an infinitely variable measurement called the 'geomancer's mile' - a measurement which he himself invented. Nor do you notice that Doutre has failed to find any Maori support for his view that legends of the patu paiarehe are actually memories of Celts.

You are also silent about the obvious political agenda which lies behind the research of Doutre and other exponents of the 'Celtic New Zealand' thesis. Doutre is an outspoken member of the One New Zealand Foundation, a group which opposes the Treaty of Waitangi and all forms of biculturalism on the curious grounds that whites and not Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. Doutre's own website includes many articles which rail against a conspiracy by Maori and 'PC academics' to destroy New Zealand. Doutre consistenly presents critics of his arguments about New Zealand prehistory as tools of this sinister conspiracy.

Like many of his colleagues on the far right, Doutre is anti-semitic, as well as anti-Maori: he has written articles for neo-Nazi websites claiming that the 9/11 attacks were an 'inside job' involving Mossad, and he is an outspoken admirer of the notorious Holocaust denier David Irving, whom he believes to be the victim of a Jewish conspiracy.

Your article does not allow a single historian, archaeologist, or expert on Maori oral tradition to reply to the absurd claims of Doutre and Ireland. At the very end of your piece you briefly refer to the opinion of Bruce Hayward, who is one of New Zealand's most distinguished geologists. Hayward has no doubt that the boulders at Silverdale were created seventy million years ago on the sea floor, and reached their present location by natural means rather than through human intervention. You give fourteen sentences to the views of Doutre and Ireland, but only two to those of Hayward.

It is not as though it would have been hard for you to find information on the nature and status of the viewpoint which Doutre and Ireland advance. A quick google search ought to have pointed you in the direction of a number of refutations of Doutre's work, as well as to the man's own website, which is so filled with absurd claims and racist rhetoric that it is almost self-parodying.

A quick google would also have brought you to a long and revealing debate between Doutre and his critics at the Scoop Review of Books last year. During this debate, which saw Doutre confronted by archaeologists, a philosopher who specialises in conspiracy theory, a sociologist of knowledge, and an expert on Maori oral history, Doutre revealed the full extent of his anti-Maori and anti-Jewish prejudice. After insisting that the ancestors of Maori lacked the skill to make sea voyages, claiming that Maori taonga like hei tiki and wharenui were actually created by ancient whites, and repreatedly denying the Holocaust, Doutre lost all credibility with the many readers following the debate at the Scoop Review of Books.

Your unbalanced and misleading article is an insult to genuine scholars of New Zealand's past and to the real indigenous people of these islands.

Sincerely
Scott Hamilton

The debate at the Scoop Review of Books can be found here:
http://books.scoop.co.nz/2008/11/18/no-to-nazi-pseudo-history-an-open-letter/

Related

http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/

http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2009/01/pseudo-history-countering-cranks.html

Comments

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

Stephen Judd has e mailed Thompson about the same article:

http://vital.org.nz/entry/title/the_herald_graciously_takes_you_at_your_...

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

That conspiracy is a world wide phenomena that has shown its head in a dozen countries where attrocities were committed against indigenous peoples by the colonisers, then some decendants of teh colonisers claiming their ancestors were in fact first occupance of the land as if that somehow justifies the attrocities.

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

jews/israel did 9/11, that is no conspiracy.

ever have anyone explain how an arab knocked down 3 buildings with 2 airplanes??

Marvin Bush & Israel are Al Queda, only morons don't know that.

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

jews aren't a race, they are a religion, a ridiculous one at that.

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

jews are NOT a race.

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

if the comments are going to be CENSORED this bad just do away with comments?

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

scott we had a brief exchange about this before,
are you prepared to throw out the baby with the bath water ?
your last line ..genuine scholars.. just what are the pre requisites ? .. who are the real indigineous peoples of these islands?
i mentioned barry brailsford in our earlier exchange ( whom recieved and MBE for his archaelogical work someyears ago ),

i am not going to defend martin doutre because i don't know him and i'm not familiar which his research.

but i'd like to point out - there is a fundamental difference in the way people view facts as credible, and the way we acquire knowledge
ie mainstream scientific methodology..
and the way indigineous peoples came to 'know'.

how is it that indigineous peoples knew about DNA and a black hole in the middle of the milky way at least hundreds of years before mainstream science acknowledged this.

i'll be back after work .. cheers

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

a few more points

my first post was rushed,

question - with respect to new zealands indigineous history, can one be judged as being racist if they question mainstream accepted accounts of history ?

barry brailsford was asked by Te Pani Manuwatu to tell the story of the waitaha.. and this was endorsed by Dame Whina Cooper.
have you red song of the stone ?
have you been in contact with barry brailsford with regard to your views that there is no archaelogical evidence in nz of the waitaha people ?
have you spoken with gary cook ?

another person you could speak to is Doug Sutton, he is deputy vice chancellor at waikato university, although he never indicated his personal support of the story of the waitaha - although i never asked him directly, he did recount a few stories related to nz history that seemed to be unexplainable from a scientific point of view.

yes i agree many maori do not support the story of the waitaha - the maori party maybe forst and foremost -i asked hone hariwira in person what his thoughts were - he replied - " its a myth, until more evidence comes to light"

your post suggests that mainstream scientific methodology is the only credible way to formulate an understanding of life in general - please correct me if this is not an accurate portrayal of you. and if it is thats fine, but i do not share the same feeling at all.
there is plenty of literature available to suggest that people did have fundamentally different ways of interpreting and knowing life in all its facets - to that of modern empiricism,

its certainly not a given in my world scott.

one person you may find of interest is
jeremy narby, author of - The cosmic serpent, DNA , and the origins of knowledge

or the web of life - by frijof capra.

your post is making many inferences beyond martin doutre/russell ireland apparent politically motivated conspiracy theory sentiment. this post is by no means an attack on your character or your right to have your way of life and beliefs.
i'm not claiming to be a scholar either, but i certainly am keen to exchange ideas with anyone who seems highly motivated and enthused to uncover and present the truth as they see it.
and i am not claiming to know or be a personal friend of any of the people i have mentioned
i look forward to your reply,

Re: Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

Kia ora Nick Lyons - a couple of points for you: Barry Brailsford was *not* initially asked by uncle Barney to tell the story of the southern people- Kai Tahu commissioned him to that. He says uncle Barney asked him to write about Waitaha - well after uncle Barney was dead. And Brailsford never uses uncle Barney's proper name (hint: it wasnt "Te Pani") - which leads me to conclude that the old man didnt trust him - or Brailsford never really knew him.
Brailsford did some really good work with the first editions of "The Tattooed Land" and "Greenstone Trails"- which is why tribe commissioned him to work on another history. I *have* read his later efforts, including "Song of Waitaha", the revisions of his first 2 books, and all the later. new age crap. Why on earth should Scott go talk to him - or (worse) Gary Cook?
And, yes, one *can* be judged as racist if they question mainstream history - when they postulate that AotearoaNZ was settled by Phoenecians/Chinese/people from Pleiades (thanks Barry!)/South Americans - indeed, everybody *except* the people for whom there is a very clear & sustained archaeological record - and oral history- to wit: Eastern Polynesians.

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

Hi Nick,

scholars are always disagreeing about all manner of subjects, but what differentiates them from pseudo-scholars like Doutre is method. Doutre has no training in any of the numerous areas in which he professes knowledge, and this comes through very clearly when he is confronted by critics. Check out, for instance, the recent letter to the Herald by astronomer Bill Keir which I've repoted on my blog today. There is no such thing as a single 'scientific' or 'academic' method - different fields employ different methods. You can't do history and physics in the same way. It takes years of study and practice to be able to work in a particular field. Empirical research is basic to most natural and social science, but there are academic fields relevant to the debate the NZ's past which are not empirical - philosophy, for instance. Maori perspectives have been incorporated into much scholarly research into NZ's past, after a long struggle against Eurocentricism. Maori Studies is now a part of most NZ universities. Historians of NZ history can seldom afford to be ignorant of the Maori language. Maori oral history has been used respectfully by important Pakeha historians like Judith Binney.

It is Doutre, the man you seem to want to defend, who still looks to the Euroecentric methods of the past. He uncritically uses the work of Vicotrian ethnographers like Best and Smith, who distorted Maori oral tradition to suit their own worldview. He decried the growth of Maori Studies as part of some politically correct conspiracy. He claims to be an expert in every field, without having studied a single one - it is he, then, who is guilty of intellectual arrogance, and of forgetting that there are many ways to understand the world.

Of course not everyone who suggests there might have been pre-Maori NZers is racist. But Doutre is demonstrably racist, as the thread at Scoop Review of Books and articles on his own site show. So are other key exponents of the 'Celtic NZ' thesis, like the neo-Nazi Kerry Bolton.

You make a number of incorrect claims about support for the claim that there were pre-Maori NZers. Despite what he says, Barry Brailsford was not approached by a group of Maori with deep roots in the South Island to write his mystical pseudo-histories of Waitaha. His supporters included a couple of Northland Maori and some Pakeha. Brailsford received his MBE for his early work, not for the Waitaha stuff. Dame Whina Cooper did not support the claim that Maori were not the indigenous people of NZ. Doug Sutton does not have any sympathy at all with the view that there were pre-Maori NZers - in fact, his research on the Chathams in the '70s helped to finally bury the notion. You may be confusing Sutton's arguments in the '80s that NZ was settled earlier than often thought - perhaps as much as 2000 years ago - with arguments that it was settled by non-Polynesians.

Cheers
Scott

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

hi scott,

my mistake, but here is a direct quote from the back cover of song of the stone..

"in 1990 barry brailsford received an mbe for his contribution to education and maori scholarship"

on scientific methodology - i beleive there is an underlying similarity in the approach of most if not all branches of science - and its based on observable phenomena, five sense methodology - touch taste eyes ears and nose.
i feel that in mainstream thought -these 5 senses are the ones officially referenced and judged as credible.
what i'm saying is that there are additional tools to be utilised in conjunction with the 5 senses, that can assist us in forming an understanding of life in general and in specific areas of study.

i have no interest in defending another human directly - martin or barry. my focus is on shedding light on issues like our history, if that means expressing support for the way a person communicates and or what exactly they communicate - in a given context, so be it.

i do not feel i have made incorrect claims at all in regard to the story of the waitaha told by barry brailsford,
in the book song of the stone it is quite clear that dame whina cooper supported the writing of the song of the waitaha.

what you are saying is that you don't beleive the information barry has presented .. am i right ?
if so thats fine your entitled to your beliefs and way of life -
but i'm saying that i do beleive it,

i have spoke with barry in person, as well as dug sutton, i never said dug sutton supported the story of the waitaha - but he does have some stories that seem to defy explaination - at least from a 'scientific' perspective.

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

hello islander

this is your uncle barney ?

.. question - why would barry lie or even consciously put half truths out thea ?

and as for your comment on "new age crap" .. thats really sayin somethin about you isn't it,

people put their heart and soul into their work and lables like that get thrown around - i'm know of many who feel that way towards mainstream science.

obviously i will look into your comment regarding 'uncle barney'

cheers, and all the best.

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

Hi Nick,

I'm not sure what evidence you are using to assess the claims that are made about New Zealand prehistory, if it is not evidence that relies in some way on the 'five senses'. I think we can try to falsify Brailsford's claims by using the physical evidence various discplines have gathered. For instance, we can test Brailsford's claim that there was a huge, technologically advanced civilisation here thousands of years ago by looking for artefacts deep in the soil - artefacts underneath the tephra left by the Taupo eruptions. If Brailsford's claims are justified, then there ought to be all manner of remnants of the Waitaha society buried deep down - roads, coins, middens, tools, and so on, as well as many thousands of skeletons. We simply don't find such things beneath the Taupo tephra. I therefore think that we can falsify Brailsford's claims, on these grounds alone.

There are many other ways we can falsify his claims - for instance, we can examine the record of pollen seeds and other natural time capsules, and observe that there is no human mark on the landscape before about eight hundred years ago.

Perhaps you have found some evidence in the archaeological record which you think supports Brailsford's claims? If believing Brailsford is a matter of religious faith, though, then there isn't a lot I can do to change your mind.

Re: Why is the Herald promoting racist conspiracy theorists?

hi,

i'd only be repeating my previous posts -

i don't believe barry because of religious faith,

i do have faith in my self however - to discern energy and information ..

i'd love to contribute to opening the minds of many but really thats an effect of having an open mind and loving heart myself,

if 5 sense mainstream scientific methodology is why you don't believe the story of waitaha - awesome - if your happy in yourself your lifestyle is fine and your feeling exactly how you want to feel - great - i wish this continues for you.
although my feeling is that this world as we know is changing rapidly, and inner security and well being based only on physicality - to me - is not a solid foundation - literally - look at quantum physics

islander - i have spoke with barry about your comments, and i'm more than satisfied, but thanks for your contribution anyway.