Tolkien himself was actually born in South Africa, which like New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, but seven thousand miles to the west. And yet, think New Zealand and the world automatically thinks Baggins, "a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which allows them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off. They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colours (chiefly green and yellow); wear no shoes, because their feet grow naturally leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can get it). Now," the words are Tolkien's own, from page 16 of "The Hobbit", "you know enough to go on with."
Actually, you know a great deal more than you need, at least insofar as New Zealand is concerned. Like the islands themselves, this is an act of theft by conquest. The Hobbit no more belongs to New Zealand than does New Zealand to the British in whose military Tolkien fought.
Then why does the world automatically think Hobbit when it thinks New Zealand? Because, sadly, other than an occasional decent cricketer (I leave out rugby players for a reason that will shortly become self-evident), there is absolutely nothing else to think of re New Zealand, no culture, no art, no significant contribution to the world through politics or even religion. Nothing. "Kahore" as they say in Maori.
And there's the point. The Maori are not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants; they are not even that acceptably broader definition of acceptable humanity "European". The Maori are Polynesian, a made-up name (like Hobbit) to describe a made-up people, lumping all manner of tribes, languages, islands, histories together into a homogeneous non-entity status, so that white man can come along and feel neither guilt nor compunction when he steals their land and reduces them to the status of sub-humans (the term Negro works in precisely the same way, as did the word Hebrew to the Pharonic Egyptians).
The Maori reached Aotearoa, "the land of the long white cloud", which white Europeans (Pakeha) call New Zealand, in the 9th century CE, at least according to one theory, a white man's theory for which there is absolutely no supporting evidence, and despite the belief of the Maori people themselves that they came from Hawaiki in the 14th century. But this is the way it works, white man telling Maori who he is and what he is, and usually getting it wrong. White man got it very badly wrong with the Maori right from the start, by invading Aotearoa, and forcing the Maori chieftains to sign the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, which was really not a treaty at all but an act of surrender, ceding sovereignty to Queen Victoria in exchange for what were called "territorial rights" but would better have been called "Sudetenland" or even "West Bank"; that same year, the British began the first organized colonial settlement, by means of which all "territorial rights" vanished, and those that didn't were subsumed in the land wars of the next thirty years, by the end of which Maori Aotearoa was fully and completely British New Zealand, no longer colonised but conquered, and the only relic of Maori culture was the Haka, danced at the start of rugby matches between Britain and the other countries Britain not colonised but conquered in similar manner.
Marks For: 2
Marks Against: 5
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