Alongside the financial reparations and apology, the settlement includes an agreed account of the Moriori history, a necessary step in correcting the myths and narratives the Crown disseminated over many generations.
Moriori had a pacifist philosophy which chief Nunuku-Whenua introduced to his people around the 16th century. The covenant of peace banned rank, violence and warfare. The imi lived undisturbed for many centuries until their first contact with European settlers in 1791, who arrived on the HMS Chatham, bringing with them diseases and the start of a new colonial era.
“In late 1835, about 900 people of two mainland Māori tribes sailed on a British ship to Rēkohu … the newcomers were welcomed and fed by Moriori in accordance with tikane Moriori (Moriori custom). Some Moriori wanted to resist the invaders, but the elders…urged the people to obey Nunuku’s law of peace … Upon returning to their villages they were attacked, and many were killed. Māori accounts put the number of Moriori killed in 1835–36 at about 300, or about one-sixth of the population. Those Moriori who survived the invasion were enslaved and forced to do manual labour,” the official account of Moriori history states.
Not that this should be all that much of a surprise. Barring that once and once only expansion into Terra Nullius history has been a series of one group invading and slaughtering another (true, often enough, just the men getting the chop, the women becoming the mothers of the new mixture).
The importance of this being that no one group – or at least, very rarely, as here – is the sole and original inhabitant who should be compensated for having been subject to that process. Because they’re just the latest example of second dog in that place, where once they – or their ancestors – were first dog and doin’ it to the then second.
True of Britain with neolithics and Celts and Angles and Saxons and Romans and Normans and on. True of all those varied First Nations and Native Americans, Incas, Aztecs, Olmecs and Mayans, true of Bantu and Maori and on and on.
“You bastards, you nicked our land!” might be an effective tactic these days but it’s hardly unusual as an occurence.