To the Ends of my Wits

Maxwell C. Hill’s “To the Ends of the Earth” is a book. I can say that without any fear of being charged with committing the heinous crime of hyperbole. Even though I read it as a PDF, and thus cannot make any claims as to how much use the physical copy would be as a paperweight, doorstop, table-leg stabiliser or projectile weapon, I feel fairly sure the book would be adequate with respect to these tasks. It would be an expensive object of this kind, given that the hardcopy costs fifty cents shy of sixty dollars, and thus not worth your time if you are on a budget (the electronic version, which was locked such that an honest reader could not annotate its pages, is a mere $38, which is also not a bargain).

Is “To the Ends of the Earth” worth paying money for as a book?

No. It is a terrible example of the form with respect to the two following features:

  • It is very badly written.
  • It is very badly researched.
  • With respect to the first point, imagine reading a book in which the author, every few chapters, doesn’t just remind you who, say, the great philosopher Aristotle was, but laboriously goes into the very same details you have already read about why he was important. Hill summarises Aristotle’s life several times, so as to press upon you the fact that Aristotle was sure the Earth was a globe.


    Well, Hill wants to rewrite human history (and pre-history) and argue that not only did the ancient Greeks (and Egyptians) attempt a circumnavigation of the globe, but they also seeded the mythologies of the Pacific, taught the South Americans how to build stone polity complexes and eventually settled in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu, before being wiped out by the Moa Hunters.

    It’s quite the story.

    The book starts, like all good crank books should, with a foreword by a once respectable, now outlying celebrity-cum-academic who is in no way qualified to pass judgement over the quality of the arguments being advanced in the text. Hill chose David Bellamy, who once graced our screens as a respectable nature documentarian. These days, however, he is more famous for his claims that anthropogenic climate change is both a fraud and a conspiracy that has been foisted upon us by the Green movement ((Hill refers to Bellamy’s arguments about anthropogenic climate change as: “a factual and scientific landmark.” (p. xv) Hill says this about a lot of people and their fringe theories.)). It is perfunctory as forewords go: it really only exists to give the text a veneer of academic respectability. Although Hill goes on to cite other authors in support of his thesis, Bellamy is as good a contemporary figure as Hill can get to endorse him. The other contemporary scholarly voices whose works are cited in support to Hill’s thesis are either likely to be shocked at how their words have been interpreted or are not scholars with expertise relevant to the topic under consideration.

    Hill starts out well enough: the initial chapters are divided between sections labelled “Facts” and sections labelled “Theory,” and, for the most part (well, the first page or two), he doesn’t start out mixing the two. There are some odd inferences to be sure: Hill makes sure to give a nod to the Celtic New Zealand Thesis (as espoused by Martin Doutré) early in chapter one, when he suggests that a Ptolemaic crew setting out to circumnavigate the globe might have included some Celts, but within a few pages Hill moves from accepted facts to grand inferences based upon suppositions. Within the space of a page the suggested attempt at a Greek circumnavigation, ordered by Ptolemy II, becomes this convoluted theory:

    Very likely this fleet sailed directly from the city of Alexandria as in Ptolemy’s time access to the Red Sea had been made possible with the completion of a Red Sea Canal first begun in the time of Neko II who came to rule Egypt in 610BC.

    From the Red Sea Ptolemy’s voyagers would have had to cross the Indian Ocean, landing in India. Like other sailors on very early voyages such as the ancient Egyptians, the Greeks would make frequent landings to take on fresh supplies. In time this fleet would have had to enter the Pacific Ocean to complete the round-the-globe circuit, and it is speculated that one or more of these ships headed south finding its way to New Zealand.

    He has no hard evidence for this but he doesn’t mark it out as supposition; this is to be taken as true and historical.

    Like many amateur historians, Hill subscribes (either out of ignorance or convenience)
    to older, out-of-date theories to substantiate his radical claims, borrowing them from fields like Sociology and Anthropology.

    For example, Hill subscribes to the notion that Polynesians, uniquely, have what is called a “rocker jaw,” (p. xviii) so the presence of skulls in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu (New Zealand) without rocker jaws, pre-Tasman, is taken to be good evidence that there was an unrecorded population of Caucasians living here before Tasman’s “discovery” of this place.

    The problem with this story is that even if we grant that Polynesians do display rocker jaws with more frequency than Caucasians, it isn’t the case that:

    a) all Māori, pre-contact, had rocker jaws and
    b) that Caucasians did not have rocker jaws pre-contact (and miscegenation) with Polynesians.

    This kind of antiquated anthropology, with its dubious reliance on morphology, just gets asserted by people like Hill (and Doutré, who makes similarly claims about Polynesian morphology), as if it was true, is true and will forever be true. However, it’s not a currently accepted theory (indeed, it’s a long debunked one) and so the “evidence” Hill presents, so to speak, ends up not giving much, if any, support to his theory because his evidence is both inconsistent with the larger set of historical evidence about human history and pre-history and, because he seems unaware of such debates, shows up his research as being highly selective.

    Hill also has a thing for skin tones in ancient artwork, specifically the use of different colours to distinguish peoples. With reference to examples of Mesoamerican art (p. xviii) Hill takes it that the characters portrayed with fairer skin tones are obviously Caucasians, and are portrayed in contrast to the darker tones of the local population. He fails to consider that the different skin tones used in such paintings were used to show the difference between one group and another, and not to suggest ethnicity or coloured “otherness.”

    You might also ask “Why white?” The notion of whiteness, as an ethnic identifier, is a modern invention and it makes no sense in a Mesoamerican context. “White” people are not actually white: at best they are a gentle to ruddy pink (with orange hues) and identifying Causcasians as “fair skinned” is not necessarily an association people would have had in earlier times.

    The failure to consider other hypotheses, ones which might not actually suit his thesis, is endemic to Hill’s thinking, and the book is filled with examples. Still, consider the additional horror of finding out that something the author explained only a few pages earlier was going to be explained to you in some detail again. Hill, it seems, wants to press upon his readers just how important the Athenian-resident philosopher Aristotle was, because he details Aristotle’s life and achievements three times throughout “To the Ends of the Earth,” never really adding any additional details but, rather, rewriting his previous attempts.

    This constant restatement has a curious effect in that Hill ends up merely adopting the theories of others without saying anything interesting or new. He lifts the theories of Thor Heyerdahl into his Greek/Egyptian story of circumnavigation, adding in just a little more causal racism, writing:

    There they built the huge stone monuments that exist to this day and lived in peaceuntil around 300AD. Then, for some reason the then leader of these people took what remained of his people back to the Pacific where they landed on Easter Island.

    Yet, much later in his book, when one of Hill’s collaborators pours scorn on Heyerdahl’s theory Hill either doesn’t see the discrepancy or doesn’t care.

    Another major plank of Hill’s argument, such as it is, is linguistic similarity. He is hung up on the word “Ra,” which occurs both in ancient Egyptian and the Austronesian language family with roughly the same meaning (p. xix). Hill portrays this as a “Gotcha!” moment, a piece of irrefutable evidence that links one culture to another (or, more specifically, shows that one culture influenced the other). Hill believes that “Ra” can only be common to both language groups if someone introduced it to the other (and he points his finger at the famous Greek and Egyptian navigators, Maui and Rata). Yet, there is another possibility, one that, once again, Hill either ignores or fails to think of. What if the word “Ra” only coincidently means the same thing?

    He has other examples, like this:

    Bryan Dillion, a recognized man in salvages and ship wrecks in the United Kingdom and overseashad been involved for many years researching and locating old ships. He told Noel Hilliam the original name for the Red Sea Canal was; “Hav–iki”. Is this “Haviki” the origin of the widely used Polynesian words “Hawaii”, “Hawaiki”, etc? (p. 6)

    Aside from the fact that this similarity is a stretch, it also raises the question of “Why? Why name Hawaiki after a canal?” This seems like a desperate attempt to find evidence that supports a claim of linguistic similarity rather than evidence of such similarity.

    Linguistic similarities between two or more languages are only interesting if there are lots of items in common. You can’t just point at a few key words and go “Aha!” like Alan Partridge. You need to show that there are lots of “Aha!” moments which indicate that one language has influenced the other. Otherwise, given the complexity of languages and the very limited set of sounds humans are able to make, it’s kind of expected that some words ((“Words” isn’t exactly the best term to use here, but the general point is good, even if the terminology I am using is inexact.)), in otherwise distinct languages, will be the same. Indeed, without some good comparative linguistics at hand to sort through the perceived similarities and differences, it’s hard to take Hill seriously (which goes back, once again, to my point about his use of what seem to be outdated or folk theories: only academics like me, with a general knowledge, are going to take the time to address this material. Most specialists won’t bother, and, in cases like these ((There are lots of cases where I would blame them. This is just not one of them.)), I wouldn’t really blame them.

    When it comes to seeing similarities, however, Hill wins awards for his interpretative map-reading.

    Max Hill’s argument about the failed circumnavigation of the world by the ancient Greek and Egyptians ends up being a very complex story indeed. The Greek and Egyptian duo of Maui and Rata (classic Greek and Egyptian names, aren’t they?) never quite completed their journey. Their two years in the Pacific: immortalised in the myths of the Pacific peoples. Their arrival and settlement in South America: the beginning of civilisation in that part of the world. But, because they set out and never returned, their story could not be told unless a second expedition was sent out, near two centuries later, to find out what happened to the first. By this time the descendants of Maui and Rata’s crew had fled South America to Rapa Nui and, from there, into the rest of Polynesia. When the second crew finally caught up with their cousins, they told them quite a story, one which was then taken back to Alexandria and put into the records of the Great Library there.

    How do we know this? Well, most of the details are pure conjecture on the part of Hill, but he does point towards a series of maps based upon the work of Claudius Ptolemy.

    Hill’s argument as to why a series of 16th Century maps show that Claudius Ptolemy knew (but was mistaken about the shape) of Australia is quite long and relies a lot on restatement. He does this a lot. Imagine the horror, every few chapters, of being reminded of who, say, the great philosopher Aristotle was. Hill summarises Aristotle’s life at least twice times so, it seems, to press upon the reader just how important the Athenian-resident philosopher Aristotle was. Yet Hill’s coverage does not add much to the telling of his story. Yes, Aristotle would have believed the Earth to be a sphere (a perfect one at that) but just because Aristotle believed such a thing, this in no way tells us that a circumnavigation of the world was attempted by those Greeks in ancient times.

    Hill’s constant harking back to Aristotle is about providing opportunity and motive: if a great figure like Aristotle believed the Earth was round, surely lesser figures would have sought to prove it.

    One of these figures is the aforementioned Claudius Ptolemy. The work of this Ptolemy is so important that Hill feels the need to go over it not once, not twice, but three times, ballooning the book from a tedious volume to a truly frustrating epic. According to Hill, Claudius Ptolemy’s maps surfaced in the 16th Century and were folded and were subsequently incorporated into the maps of the day. I reproduce some of them below, with Hill’s highlighting of the remarkable presence of the continent we now know of as Australia. As you will see, the resemblance is remarkable.

    Astounding images of Australia, aren’t they. The little nodule to the side, New Zealand: uncanny.

    If you want an example of looking for evidence and finding it, this is it. At best, Hill has an argument for map-makers putting in land masses where land masses will turn out to be (even though they get the shape wrong). His argument that it is Australia (and a bit of Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu) even goes against his own argument about other badly drawn maps (notably on page 14).

    Hill’s argument rests upon the map claim: I think he realises that his other arguments, those based on folk comparative linguistics, petroglyphs and the like are subject to some debate but who would argue with a map? If you could show that the ancient Greeks knew of Australia… Well, suddenly all your intellectual fancies about a pre-Māori culture in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu might look plausible.

    Wouldn’t they?

    Well, no. Aside from the issues of whether the maps show such land masses as Australia, even of Hill’s claims were true, this would not tell us much about whether these Greek and Egyptian “discoverers” were also “settlers.” Tasman “discovered” New Zealand but did not settle it.

    Discovery does not entail that someone is going to be living there shortly.

    Still, at times like this, people like Hill, and Doutré, and Brailsford et al, will then point towards Māori oral history and cite the stories of the Patupaiarehe and the Tūrehu, the first peoples of this place, as evidence of a pre-Māori culture. Note that this ends up being a weird double standard in the work of people like Hill, Doutré et al, because they are normally quite dismissive of any oral account of Māori origin but will happily believe any such account that suggests Māori were not here first.

    Still, the stories of the Patupaiarehe and Tūrehu are an acknowledged part of Māori lore and these people were said to be here first. What gives?

    Without wanting to rehash earlier posts upon the subject, the Patupaiarehe and Tūrehu play the role of the fey folk in such cultures as the Irish, the English and so forth. In these cultures there are “first peoples” who are spiritual, rather than physical creatures and whose role is both to guide and to warn the current generation who to live in and respect the land.

    Hill is not content to just cite the existence of the Patupaiarehe and the Tūrehu as pre-dating the Māori: he also challenges the Great Fleet narrative of the arrival of the Māori in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu. What’s interesting about this aspect of his argument is that he’s dealing with an out-of-date hypothesis about the migration of Pacific peoples to New Zealand. The notion of a Great Fleet is a nice story but the evidence indicates that the settlement of this place by the people who would become the Māori took place over a lengthy period of time (which also makes sense of some of the oral history, where we have cases of waka arrive in a place, only to find their family members were already there).

    There are a lot of arguments in Hill’s book that I do not have the time to delve into. Hill and Gary Cook’s use of Barry Fell’s “translations” of Polynesia petroglyphs as evidence of the Greek/Egyptian journey is certainly interesting (in a “stretching credibility”) kind of way, but it would make this overly lengthy review a much more tedious read, as would fulminating against Hill’s claim that the Moriori are not Māori (let alone the claims of one “Moriori Chief Philip Ranga”). Add in Barry Brailsford’s work on the Waitaha people (which confuses an actual iwi with a mythic one whose imperium reached the shores of South America), claims about comparative artwork from distant cultures, and you have a book which is packed to the brim with… “intellectual fancies” is the best term I can think of here.

    People have read “To the Ends of the Earth” and been convinced of. Many more will read it and find it perfectly acceptable. Historical, even. It will prove to be a problematic book: read by a lot of people and used as proof someone other than the Māori got here first and that the reason why this isn’t common knowledge is a conspiracy of silence by the governments of the day, the academic historians, the judiciary and people like me. For some it is simply a book which contains the evidence they have been looking for. For others, it will become evidence for their view because they don’t understand it’s shortcomings.

    I can sort of (sort of) understand why people find books like this persuasive. Whether Hill knows this or not, providing lots of disparate arguments in support of your thesis, regardless of whether they are plausible or implausible, is a good way to get people on side. On a surface level, it looks like there is a good case for Hill’s thesis of a Greek/Egyptian attempted circumnavigation of the globe, leading to the pre-Māori settlement of Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu. Certainly, if you thought Hill was wrong, you would have to go through and debunk a lot of arguments, arguments which rest on references and facts et al. Add in the fact that this book will be derided by serious academics, who, in many cases, won’t even read it before passing comment on it ((And this happens: Prof. Margaret Mutu (whose work I quite like) didn’t read Dr. Paul Moon’s “This Horrid Practice” before passing comment on it in the media. Moon is a proper historian: imagine how such academics are going to treat Hill.)) and you can see that the “average New Zealander,” who distrusts educated, ivory-tower folk, are going to say “Finally, a book which speaks truth to power!” ((They aren’t really going to say that, exactly, but you get my point.))

    The thing is that “To the Ends of the Earth” rests upon bad arguments, misinterpreted evidence, out-moded theories: most of the debunking of it already exists in the peer-reviewed literature. Hill’s book, though, is the history people think is true and the history some people think is being kept from us. You can lob King and Belich at these people, and it likely won’t change their minds, because books like these have, as their audience, people who seek confirmation of their view that, in some way, they aren’t as privileged as the rest of society makes them out to be.

    Also: Did I mention ARISTOTLE?


    Stop beating around the bush, man – DID HE SAY ANYTHING ABOUT ARISTOTLE OR NOT?!

    Imagine the feeling of terror you would feel when you see yet another image of Aristotle in Hill’s book, knowing full well that the words of one the greatest philosophers is about to be cited again in favour of a ridiculous theory about an ancient Greek called “Maui” and an Egyptian named “Rata.” And then be brings up Ptolemy for the third time…

    Edward says:

    Thanks for taking the time to go through this book Matthew. I haven’t read it myself, though I have been curious, so it is good to have had a sharp mind digest and disseminate its Aristotelian goodness to the rest of us. At the risk of being one of those academics who passes judgement before reading it (in fact that is exactly what I intend to do), how should we respond to junk science/history books like this? You highlight the problem very well: most of the debunking already exists (and has for some time) in the peer-reviewed literature which Joe Redneck will never read or accept anyway.

    The nonsense about static ‘race’ traits based upon 19th century physical anthropology is one example (take it from someone currently cataloguing archaeological skeletal remains), though they have far larger scientific hurdles to address then this by the sounds of things (on a side note, there are numerous excellent reasons why amateurs should definitely not be playing with human remains in the first place!). The question is should we even bother to respond, and if so how? Sometimes I feel like the harder you try the stupider (or more entrenched) people get. That said, the recent push back against climate change denialists has been interesting to watch…

    The ques­tion is should we even bother to respond, and if so how? Some­times I feel like the harder you try the stu­pider (or more entrenched) people get.

    I was having a version of this conversation yesterday with a friend and my take on it is that we need to distinguish between different sets of people and then work out how we approach each in our efforts to debunk or correct.

    The first group of people we need to think about are the “true believers,” the ones who hold the extraordinary view (people like Hill, Doutré, Hilliam and Cook). These people are heavily invested in their views and swaying them will be difficult (but not impossible). Debating them on the internet is not really an exercise in persuading them to change their minds but, rather (well, this is my rationale), representing that there are Pākehā out there who disagree and are willing to stand up and support Māori. However, that kind of debate has consequences for how we deal with the second set of people.

    The second group of people are those who don’t have an opinion either way (“swing voters,” to use a political term) and they are the ones we should be concerned with. Swing voters can be persuaded, and our problem is that the true believers often have what look to be better, more comprehensive arguments for their positions. Take Doutré: he will point towards stone structures, examples of Ogham and oral histories which indicate a pre-Māori people in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu. He can cite examples, show photos and provide topographical maps. We, on the other hand, will say “But the archaeologists disagree!” or say “Well, if you read this set of papers and this set, you will find…”

    Our case often looks weak rather than strong.

    Now, one thing we could do is try to get members of our peer communities to write both academic and public interest articles on how improbable the Celtic New Zealand thing is. Pointing to a body of literature just won’t persuade many people: they want something succinct and largely self-contained. We look as if we’re covering our asses and arses when we do this, and whilst it’s the right way to conduct a debate in the academic realm, I don’t think it works particularly well in the public sphere. Luckily, in cases like the John Ansell’s blog, you are dealing with a largely self-contained echo chamber: there aren’t all that many swing voters in residence.

    So, how do we deal with these issues? I think we have to start treating them seriously but, at the same time, we need to ensure that when we treat them seriously it doesn’t look as if we are acting contemptuously towards the holders of these views. We need to think about the swing voters and build up resources such that when Doutré makes some claim, say, about rocker jaws, we can provide a link which says “Rocker jaws are found throughout human populations and not all Polynesians have them” and provide a good, general overview as to why. These resources exist in the climate change literature and have proved useful: we should probably make a start on them, with respect to our pre-history, now.

    Edward says:

    You make some good points here. I have largely given up on trying to combat the pseuds, rather taking the lazy attitude of ‘they’re all rednecks’ and getting on with real-world research instead. But it may be my delivery which is the problem (in part, anyway). I have always thought it better to engage them for the benefit not of the pseuds but of the audience (or ‘swing voters’). I fully agree with the suggestion you make regarding a body of resources which make it easy for people. I have tried dabling with this before (with little in the way of sustained energy), and have been impressed by the climate scientist’s efforts. Sounds like a project for you to begin perhaps?

    It’s a project I’ve thought about doing but it really needs a team. My archaeological know-how is pretty much limited to what I learnt in my BA (I did a major in it, admittedly) and I don’t really have the chops for History. Ideally, what someone like us needs is a post somewhere were we can afford to devote significant resources towards it. Maybe if I get that post-doc I’m applying for…

    PeterC says:

    Having read some of the material on this website I am compelled to ask; why is that you, and so many others, appear to dismiss theories of pre-Maori occupation of NZ out of hand? I have always taken a keen interest in the age-old question “where did we come from?” and over the years been thoroughly fascinated by what I’ve read. Some of the material may or may not be accurate, theories are tossed about regularly but they are almost always debated with a level of decorum. It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of NZ having dinosuars roaming the land was considered bunkum. Not so today.

    Maori DNA has been found to be of Taiwanese origin, which is interesting, don’t you think? We wouldn’t have known that without modern DNA technology and it may come to pass that some/all of the material presented by Hill may be proven to be accurate, or otherwise, conclusively. I can’t help but think that if Hill’s book had been written about Africa or Australia it would be debated rather than denigrated simply because it presents a possibility that someone arrived in NZ well before Maori. What difference does it make? Why is it taboo to suggest Maori weren’t the first to set foot on NZ soil? Would such a discovery change the identity of Maori or disadvantage them in any way? I doubt it. If, and I say “if”, Hill is correct, and proven conclusively to be so, then another piece of the huge jigsaw puzzle regarding the travels and progress of humankind is put in it’s place. If not; you have that doorstop you mentioned.

    Hello, Peter.

    I’m not merely dismissing Hill’s thesis; I engaged with the arguments he presented and found them to be weak. I’m not condemning his views because they aren’t politically correct or something along those lines; I’m condemning his views because they aren’t supported by good arguments and his evidential base is, frankly, a mess of confusions and poor scholarship.

    PeterC says:

    It could be said, with respect, that your opposing argument is weak and rambling, but I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree that Hill’s book might have some merit. Put a Catholic and a Muslim in a room together and I would suggest a similar result might occur. I still find it all rather fascinating and you have to ask how and when certain artefacts arrived on NZ soil and, of course, how such artefacts are interpreted. I thought King’s book ‘The Penguin History of NZ’ was pretty good in places but his statement that there was no evidence to support pre-Maori colonisation of NZ (or words that effect) to be misleading. It suggested to many that nobody had been to NZ prior to Maori when, in fact it, is entirely possible but they just didn’t settle.

    What do you make of the red-haired skulls and long-boned skeletons mentioned in ‘An Unpalatable Truth’?

    Conspiracy theories are fun aren’t they? I’ll continue ratting through your posts, thank you for the entertainment.

    Hi, Peter.

    I’ll happily admit my opposing argument is rambling (in part because Hill’s book is rambling and I’ve quite deliberately aped his style; note the constant jokes about Aristotle) but if you want to say it is weak, it’d be good if you could point at why you think this.

    Also, I’m curious: have you read “To the Ends of the Earth?” If so, what parts did you find credible or persuasive?

    As for claims about long-boned skeletons, et al, I agree with the majority of archaeologists who say these aren’t actually unusual finds and don’t support some claim that they are of non-Polynesian origin. I know Hill and Doutré find this kind of response risible, but I’ll side with the experts who actually know about these kinds of things.

    PeterC says:

    Yes I have read the book but as I have loaned it to my brother-in-law I am unable to quote snippets but overall I find it interesting and plausible. Your own credibilty falters when you make derisive and counter-productive remarks toward the author, but as I alluded in an earlier post, this website appears to be for entertainment purposes and in that it performs admirably. As for the experts you mention it would appear that some ‘experts’ produce ‘evidence’ and ‘facts’ that suit agendas propogated by the powers that supply the salaries of those ‘experts’. Hill and Doutre` (in my observations) are not paid by the piper and therefore are less likely, in my view, to have any hidden agenda(s).

    So, tall (up to 7ft) skeletons with red hair are the norm in Polynesia are they? I would like to know who the archaeologists are who dismiss the theory that the remains are non-Polynesian and (if the piper is to be referred to again) who pays them?

    The Kaimanawa Wall, supposed trig stations et al that are mentioned by Doutre` might be natural stone formations, they might not, but if NZ was Europe, or anywhere else for that matter, they would be investigated thoroughly to determine their validity as to whether or not they are historical markers, structures or whatever. I maintain that too much archaeological material is covered up, dismissed or destroyed in NZ (some/much at the behest of local Iwi) for there not to be a……..conspiracy!

    It’s fun looking at all the options and the pros and cons but for sites to be decimated by DOC without so much as a by-your-leave is to deny NZ’ers an insight into the real history of the land. It wasn’t so long ago DOC cut down some ancient oak trees (in the Far North, from memory) that apparently/supposedly pre-dated European arrival. How did they get to where they were? Why were they simply cut down with no investigation done to their actual age etc etc? It beggars belief when their very name is supposed to be about conservation.


    I see. So if publicly funded research doesn’t fit with fringe theorists, then it’s the product of a conspiracy? That kind of claim shows a stunning disregard for how peer review works in the academic sector and it elevates “independent thinkers” to some impossibly unassailable height of epistemic excellence.

    Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu (New Zealand) has an extensive and rigorous archaeological community that publishes in international, peer-reviewed journals. It is also the subject of research by archaeologists and historians who live well outside of our public funding agencies (a lot of Pacific archaeology is done by French, German and American researchers). Are these people also part of the conspiracy? Just how big is this conspiracy against people like Doutré and Hill? Or, plausibly, are their views not taken seriously because their views are nonsense?

    PeterC says:

    Oh dear; that joke went straight over your head, didn’t it?

    Maybe it just wasn’t very funny, Peter.

    PeterC says:

    Edward; how many skeletons have you analysed? What makes you the ‘expert’? [Snipped for offensiveness] Lighten up. NZ is a drop in the world bucket, you really need to get out more and at the risk of repeating myself this site is entertaining if nothing else. (If your following doubled you could fill a Holden.)

    All I was saying was; be open to theories. It would appear that, being the myopic lot that you appear to be, you’re not. Sheesh. Also, Edward, you’re 100% right in saying “so much of this rubbish distracts etc etc” (and the right word would have been ‘detracts’ but let’s not mention illiteracy) as NZ faces many more challenges than a bunch of Maori radicals holding the nation to ransom and altering NZ’s natural history to suit themselves in order to achieve their goals. However, that particular challenge needs to be addressed fairly soon for the benefit of all NZ’ers.

    Peer reviews? Yawn. “My mate says I’m right, so does his missus, therefore I’m right”. What bollocks. That’s like the Police and lawyers investigating themsleves and coming out squeaky clean or Homer Simpson looking at his profile in the mirror and declaring himself as buff.

    I never said Hill, Doutre` et al were right, I just said I found Hill’s theories (and others) plausible. Less than a hundred years ago you would have been declared insane for theorising that a trip to outer space was possible.

    Edward; do you have a theory of your own as to how humans spread across the face of the earth? I don’t mean a theory that follows the mainstream, one of your own.

    Peter, the fact you use the term “Māori appeaser” (admittedly sans macron) and other derogatory comments about the indigenous people of this place is not something I will tolerate on this blog. Take this to be your one and only warning.

    PeterC says:


    PeterC says:

    Um, just one quick question. How can a people who (by their own admission) sailed to NZ a mere few hundred years ago be indigenous? Just asking.

    Well, one they were here at least six hundred years before the Pākehā came. Two, they are indigenous because they settled this place and evolved their own unique culture here. Three; as a first people they get to be called indigenous because they were the existent, settled culture the Pākehā encountered upon first coming to this place.

    PeterC says:

    Okay, that’s your take on the word.
    A quick Google came up with “Indigenous means originating in….” and also
    “Meaning: Originating where it is found.”

    Hmm, originating where it is found, originating in…..that doesn’t appear to stack up if a group sailed here from somewhere else, does it? Just an observation.

    By that very strict definition, Peter, no one is indigenous, since all of our ancestors are from Africa.

    Māori, as a unique culture and ethnicity, developed and thus originated in this place. Yes, their ancestors came from elsewhere (the Cook Islands most likely) but as a distinct people, what we take to be the Māori originated here many hundreds of years before the Pākehā.

    PeterC says:

    I must say that’s a somewhat skewed view but it’s your website. Maybe I’m owed the Victoria Falls or a slice of Uganda, perhaps? As it happens I have been told my family tree can be traced back to a wee village in England through my grandmother’s maiden name of Barber. Legend has it that there might be a connection to Lady Diana Barber, who was banished by Henry VIII to that very village. Maybe, through the scattered offspring and vague lineage, I’m owed a castle somewhere? In reality I don’t give a rodent’s hind quarters, I let it go.

    Also, this being a website about conspiracy theories I’m surprised you missed/misunderstood my quip about ‘conspiracy’ earlier. Again; lighten up, the sky isn’t actually falling. Unless, of course, the globe is actually warming, then we’re all doomed regardless of race, colour or creed.

    Furthermore, I thought a website about conspiracy theories would be a little more….open.

    As I said, Peter, your supposed quip wasn’t actually funny.

    As for your views of the content of this website; well, I’m open to good arguments, but the focus really is on proponents of conspiracy theories having good arguments for their views.

    It’s also not a skewed view; it’s pretty much the way we talk about how indigeneity is phrased in the modern context. How would you define what qualifies a people as being indigenous, Peter?

    PeterC says:

    And what of the Moriori?

    What of the Moriori, Peter? They are a Māori iwi which developed in isolation in the Chatham Islands. As they will happily attest to, they aren’t a pre-Māori people; the claim they were pre-Māori was made by Elston Best who may well have just made it up to justify his own views about the legitimacy of colonialisation.

    Edward says:

    Their views aren’t taken seriously because their views are nonsense. The reasons why their views are nonsense have been repeatedly pointed out. I love Peter C’s logic though: theory x (population movement out of S.E. Asia) wasn’t accepted until robust science proved it, so therefore theory y (Celts in NZ) must be true or at least might be proven to be so ipso facto because it is unaccepted. The problem for Peter is that the first was arrived at through robust scientific method, peer review, and serious professional scholarship, while the latter is about as far away from those qualities as one could get. This is ironic as Peter is sceptical of genuine archaeology and, seemingly, ‘mainstream’ scholarship, yet uses an example from genuine science to try and support a call for us to take junk science seriously. Either Peter is scientifically illiterate or rather disingenuous (probably both), though I suspect he’s attempting the Galileo fallacy (e.g. they made fun of Galileo, and he was right. They make fun of me, therefore I am right.

    “But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.” – Carl Sagan

    How many skeletons has Peter analysed, I wonder? How many archaeological sites has he excavated? Any serious studies into material culture? Read any recent peer-reviewed archaeological literature lately? None? That would be the same amount as Doutre, Hilliam and their mates. It’s a fair question considering he uses such an accusatory tone here, and condemns archaeologists and other specialists in this country as lacking integrity.

    So much of this rubbish distracts from the genuine issues facing NZ heritage.

    I think you’re being trolled Matthew.

    Edward says:

    To answer Peter’s question (it was part of his ‘Maori appeaser’ post – it’s a change from the usual ‘race traitor’ his heroes have called me), what makes me the expert is probably my qualifications coupled with my experience and research. I am ‘one of them’, a paid up member of the conspirational archaeological community, you see. Your silence in answering my questions speaks volumes about the weight you bring to this discussion though.

    In fact, much like your heroes you seem very good at asking for a lot while offering very little. You haven’t acknowledged Matthew’s points about how your conspiracy would need to be very large, for example. Another common trait I see is demanding an answer to one question, then quickly jumping on to another unrelated question. Which is it Peter? Celts, Egyptians, or the myth of Melanesian Moriori? Then there’s the desperate gamble of trying to redefine well-defined terms such as ‘indigenous’. The first peoples of the Americas are indigenous. The first peoples of Australia are indigenous. The first peoples of NZ are indigenous. These peoples and their cultures do not exist outside of the nations in which they were found. This is well established terminology in international law, academia, and normal use. Peter is going to have a hard time redefining ‘indigenous’ for a whole planet.

    While I’m sure Peter feels he’s asking very pertinent and hard hitting questions, to most people he’s merely going to look like a very prejudiced character with an axe to grind. Here’s an idea: if you want to challenge the so-called status quo of NZ (and world) archaeology, history, linguistics, anthropology, biology, and other disciplines which have scaffolded, piece by piece, our current knowledge of prehistory and history, this is fine and good, but you had better bring some very good evidence which stands up to scrutiny, is provided by reliable sources, and presents a cohesive theory with workable models.

    If you don’t (which your heroes haven’t), don’t spit the dummy and claim it’s everyone else’s fault. Sometimes ideas and theories aren’t accepted merely because they are crap and don’t make sense.

    PeterC says:

    “….made by Elston Best who may well have just made it up to jus­tify his own views….” Like Turiana Turia making stuff up about a “hollycost” as she put it?

    “….because they are crap and don’t make sense.” Like the idea we might be able to one day fly an aeroplane. Yeah, just daft.

    I don’t think, Peter, there will be any profit in continuing this conversation.

    Edward says:

    Thanks for proving my point again. I see you’ve just returned to cover old ground. It’s honestly like talking to a wall. I think I’ve probably said my bit. Good luck Matthew.

    “Either Peter is sci­en­tific­ally illit­er­ate or rather disin­genu­ous (prob­ably both), though I sus­pect he’s attempt­ing the Galileo fal­lacy (e.g. they made fun of Galileo, and he was right. They make fun of me, there­fore I am right.

    ‘But the fact that some geni­uses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geni­uses. They laughed at Colum­bus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright broth­ers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.’ — Carl Sagan”

    PeterC says:

    Edward; you certainly do take a myopic, self-righteous, repetitive and pontificating approach to your posts, don’t you? Covering old ground is something (supposedly indigenous) radicals and their supporters do with monotonous regularity, it’s what their industry is based on. Time to bury the hatchett and get on with modern life, old bean, and you still haven’t mentioned what your qualifications are, if any. No, I’m no expert in archaeology, although I do have some qualifications in a different field but they have no relevance here. I am just an average New Zealander who is open to theories, that’s all, and it concerns me that well-documented slices of NZ’s history are being either willfully ignored or destroyed along the squandering of billions of dollars when the nation can ill-afford it. Your attitude merely confirms my first thoughts about your (lack of) character.

    Edward says:

    Why thank you, Peter. If you must know (though I am fairly certain it will make no difference whatsoever to you) my qualifications include a masters in archaeology and a post graduate diploma in forensic science from the University of Auckland. As well as research and experience in NZ archaeology, I am an expert in forensic archaeology. Nice to know I lack character though (I know a great many people who would disagree with you, random internet troll, considering what my job entails) from a random prejudiced internet commenter. You make a lot of serious claims with nothing but hot air to back them up. Now, I will try and save my words for people who are open to an honest debate, and leave you to your own delusions.

    PeterC says:

    Righto, Edward, or should I call you Mister A? I think you’re bit too young to have a grasp on the real world. You can put all the letters you like behind your name buddy but history, unlike you, tells the truth.

    Peter, the fact you dismiss Edward’s expertise as being irrelevant to this debate shows you’re not interested in getting to the truth but are either trolling or that you are unwilling to admit your position is entirely political and not at all interested in actual history.

    PeterC says:

    No, that would be you, Mister A.
    Time will tell.

    PeterC says:

    Me? Trolling? Never.

    As it happens I am very much interested in actual history and not the politically correct garbage New Zealanders are fed. Just because Mr A has read a few books and may, or may not, have dug up a few old Coca Cola bottles doesn’t make him an expert. Simply repeating what others have written, parrot fashion, simply makes him …um…a parrot. He works for the Govt. and will supply that Govt. with whatever answers are required for him to get paid. Still, it beats having a real job I suppose. I can only surmise as to how he developed his arrogant core. (Bullied at school were you MR A?) I can gloss over most of it and write it off as blind, youthful exuberance. He’ll learn, when/if he matures, that not everyone else’s theories are “crap”.

    Now run along.

    Peter, you are obviously only interested in ad hominem attacks and not actual arguments. Your conspiracy theory about PC history is laughable; are the researchers from the USA, France and Germany who write on Pacific archaeology all in on it too?

    Edward says:

    Peter, all you’re doing is proving to those reading this how nasty you are and how weak your arguments are.

    To summarise:

    I don’t qualify as an archaeologist, according to Peter, but a retired farmer from Dargaville or a Joiner from Devonport do, apparently. I’m incapable of critical review, and have never had an original thought in my head, according to Peter. I’m also an arrogant liar with no character or integrity, according to Peter. My 28 years of age means my opinion is invalid, according to Peter. I’m paid by the Government to lie for the Government, according to Peter. I’m also blind. Apparently working in the area of forensics isn’t a real job. And, finally, I was bullied at school, according to Peter.

    Did I miss anything? That I have horns, perhaps? Bye, Peter.

    PeterC says:

    So, Edward Ashby, you can dish it out but you can’t take it. Other people’s theories are all “crap” as far you’re concerned, you’re right and everyone else is wrong, even deluded. What’s the matter sonny Jim; did I hit a nerve? Well diddums, it’s time you hardened up a little.

    Peter, due to your tone and the fact you are not actually engaging with arguments but, rather, making character attacks, I am placing your comments back into moderation.

    Edward says:

    Peter, yes I see you googled me and are now using my full name. I don’t know what the relevance of that is supposed to be, but well done you clever sod, you’ve unmasked my secret identity.

    It isn’t me against ‘everyone’ or me being right and ‘everyone else’ being wrong – the ‘everyone else’ and ‘other people’s theories’ actually relates to a very narrow band of ideas and an even narrower group of individuals who promote them. What I’m ‘dishing out’ is in fact specific criticism of pseudo-archaeology ideas precicely because I am a trained archaeologist and thus have the knowledge to sort the arch-nonsense from the genuine. I would have thought people would have expected archaeologists to crtique ideas purporting to be archaeological. It’s the very nature of the thing. What I’m getting back from you is, instead of good arguments, simply personal attacks, insults and very serious accusations.

    To make the point clear: it isn’t ‘everyone else’s’ ideas which I think are crap. It is the several ‘pre-Maori’ ones which I think are, and the reasons for this is that they simply are not backed by evidence and internally don’t make any sense. If we imagine for a moment that, say, the Celtic NZ thesis holds, then not only would the archaeological, geological, paleoenvironmental, and genetic data we find in NZ look markedly different than what it does, but so too would this sort of data from nations all around the globe with politics a universe away from NZ and the so-called conspiracy you fantasise about. Deluded? Yes, I genuinely think you are.

    At the end of the day, the architects of Celtic NZ thesis and similar have 1) no evidence whatsoever which stands up to scrutiny; 2) arguments which are either contradictory or hold no internal logic; 3) no experience or training in archaeological or anthropological methods or theory. I asked you if you had ever analysed a skeleton or excavated a site. You have not and neither have your heroes Doutre et al. My point isn’t to mock you (though I’ll throw that in as a bonus), it was to point out that you don’t actually know what archaeology is or how it is done and are thus not in a position to make the sort of wild claims and serious accusations that you do.

    Finally, the only nerve you hit is my patience nerve, and as for ‘hardening up’ coment – acting like the big bad alpha male as an effectively anaonymous internet commenter isn’t impressive, it’s pathetic. ‘To the Ends of my Wits’ is right.

    Peter, publishing the names of people associated with Ed is both creepy and speaks to your lack of moral character (which is why I am not publishing that comment). Goodbye, Peter.