Over at the Scoop Review of Books Martin Doutré has presented a list of twenty-nine questions, with the vague suggestion that these lead credence to the Celtic New Zealand thesis. Here they are, typos intact:
1. In 1894, when Haoni Nahe recounted his oral history knowledge concerning Rotorua’s white (urukehu) tribes, was he lying and just making it all up? Yes / No.
2. Was Takiwa Tauarua lying when he gave a full account of the defeat of the white Ngati Hotu tribe at Pukekaikiore (Hill of the feast of rats) and hanging the legs of the defeated urukehu people from poles? Yes / No.
3. Was John Te H. Grace lying or deluded when he wrote full physical descriptions of the white Ngati Hotu people in his book Tuwharetoa? Yes / No.
4. Are all of those testimony references to the white Turehu or Patu-paiarehe, as found in the Minute Books of the Native Land Court, just `big porkies’ and perjury? Yes / No.
5. Did early maritime explorers to New Zealand write about the light-skinned, red-headed Maori people that they often saw? Yes / No.
6. Does the term `Waka Blonds’ refer to the lineage and recurring incidence of â€œliving specimens of light-skinned, red-headed, non-colonial European people found amongst the Maori iwis of the 19th & 20th centuries? Yes / No.
7. Have the bodies of these red-headed people been continuously observed in burial caves since the beginning of the colonial era? Yes / No.
8. Were braided samples of this multi-coloured hair, taken from the Waitakere Rock Shelter, once on display at Auckland Museum? Yes / No.
9. Was Sir Peter Buck lying when he recounted the Maori proverb about the white ancestors? Yes / No.
10. Do the moai statues of Easter Island display Caucasoid facial features and were they crowned with bright red lava top-knots to represent the hair colour of the builders? Yes / No.
11. Do the Moai statues of Easter Island show the downwards curved Polynesian `rocker jaw’, which is the most prominent identifying feature of Polynesian physiology? Yes / No.
12. Was Tuakau contractor, Maurice Tyson, lying when he said that a burial cavern, containing skeletons in excess of 7-feet tall was found at Waikaretu in recent years when excavations were being done for a road extension? Yes / No.
13. Was Maurice Tyson further lying when he said that mainstream professionals, arriving in from Waikato & Auckland Universities, slapped a moratorium over the find, requiring that it be kept secret from the New Zealand public (to the disgust of the whole roading gang and many others in the community)? Yes / No.
14. Was a Caucasian women’s skull, carbon dated to be about 350-years, old found in the Wairarapa recently? Yes / No.
15. Is there a Pohutukawa tree that is more than 300-years old at La Corunna, Spain? Yes / No.
16. Was a Roman coin dating to 7 BC found during excavations on the banks of the Taylor River, near Blenheim, NZ, in December 2003? Yes / No.
17. Is the Maori Hei-Tiki found from Egypt to Mexico-Peru to New Zealand? Yes / No.
18. Was a Spanish helmet dredged up out of Wellington Harbour in about 1904 and is it presently in the collection of Te Papa Museum? Yes / No.
19. Are there official records to indicate that other Spanish helmets and goods have been discovered at Levin, the Kapiti Coast, the Bay of Plenty and Poutu Peninsula? Yes / No.
20. In 1840, did Reverend William Colenso find Maori women cooking potatoes in a bronze, Tamil ship’s bell and did the women tell Colenso that the bell had been in their tribe’s possession for many generations? Yes / No.
21. Is the New Zealand semi-flightless bird, the Pukeko, found in the Mediterranean and South America and is one depicted climbing on papyrus stems in ancient wall paintings at Medum, Egypt? Yes / No.
22. Do ancient `string knot’ calculation or counting devices exist as artefacts in both Peru and New Zealand and are they called by the same recognisable name in both far-flung regions on opposite ends of the Pacific? Yes / No.
23. Does the Maori myth of Mataora & Niwareka have the same origins as the Greek myth of Orpheus & Euredike? Yes / No (see: http://www.geocities.com/acgyles/myth.html ).
24. Does the New Zealand Kumara (sweet potato) come from South America and was it anciently called the same recognisable name in regions of the Americas? Yes / No.
25. Are ancient New Zealand bottle gourd artefacts of the same African species as found in South America? Yes / No.
26. Do we have a great many species of anciently introduced South American flora in New Zealand? Yes / No.
27. Are there any identical ancient words in the Maori language to words of the Egyptian or Indo-European languages? Yes / No.
28. Is there any similarity between Maori gods and Egyptian-Mediterranean-European & Indo-Aryan gods? Yes / No.
29. Are there any examples of old world scripts incised into New Zealand boulders? Yes / No.
Now, even the most casual glance reveals that a number of these questions have nothing to do with the Celtic New Zealand thesis; they merely suggest some anomalies in the historical or archaeological record. I am going to go through these one by one. I shouldn’t have to; the Burden of Proof in situations like these rest upon the holders of anomalous views; Doutré should be going out of his way to make a compelling case for his thesis rather than detracting from the received wisdom. I shouldn’t be indulging people like him, but, at the same time, lists of questions like these might be found to misrepresent and overstate the case of his wacky thesis. So, let me go through these and show that, when properly considered, the Celtic New Zealand thesis, as presented by Doutré in the comments thread of the Scoop Review of Books, is not just lacklustré, but also completely hollow.
Question 6 refers to mixed-race (excuse the awkward and possibly inflammatory terminology; I don’t like the concept of race any more than you do but I’m also slightly wary of the term `miscegenation’ due to its pejorative use in our culture) Maori post-contact. Doutré wants us to infer that these are the result of Maori breeding with Celts long ago. I suspect such `Waka blonds’ are the result of Maori breeding with some of my ancestors, the Irish, in very recent history.
Questions 7 & 8, 12 & 13 don’t really say anything about a Celtic pre-history to Aotearoa; we know a lot about what happens to bodies after death and both the find (assuming it is a true recollection) and the actions of the Department of Conservation fit established conventions. We don’t like to interfere with the dead in this country; it’s just good form1.
Question 14 has already been covered by Scott.
Question 15 is based on a popular urban myth; tests of the tree show it to be about two hundred years old, which makes it post-Cook.
Questions 18 and 19 refer to the Spanish, not the Celts, so no hope for the thesis there. Question 20 refers to the Tamils, a group even more removed from the Celts than the Spanish.
Questions 24 to 26 refer to South America. Now, a lot of interesting information has come out of both DNA and ethnographic studies to do with both the Polynesian migration around the Pacific and the Polynesians’ superior navigational technologies. We now know (due to work undertaken by people like Dr. Lisa Matisoo-Smith) that the Kumara is South American in origin and that the chicken in South America originated in South-east Asia. What this suggests is a series of trades, over a significant amount of time, that transferred the goods from one culture to the other. There is more research going in regard to this and it is all supporting the thesis that the Polynesian peoples really were excellent explorers, getting to both the coast of South America and to Madagascar.
Okay, so that gets rid of thirteen of Doutré’s questions. What about the rest?
Questions 1 to 4 (as well as 9) refer to the Patupaiarehe. The Patupaiarehe are the Maori fey people, fairy folk for you Celticly-inclined folk. These aren’t real peoples, even if they are treated as such by the mythology; the Irish talk about their fairies are real creatures even to this day but that doesn’t mean they have a physical existence; they, if they can be said to have some kind of existence, occupy a liminal space in the thoughts, actions and cultural activities of the people to which they belong.
That being said, Doutré believes in leprechauns so he probably wouldn’t accept this answer to his question.
So, with stories of the fey folk out of the way, that leaves us with ten `puzzling’ questions, which are 5, 9 to 11, 17, 21 to 23 & 27 to 29. Let’s go through them one by one.
Doutré: 5. Did early maritime explorers to New Zealand write about the light-skinned, red-headed Maori people that they often saw?
What does light-skinned mean? I mean really, what does it mean? The Thais, for example, think they are light-skinned compared to their neighbours. The Egyptians considered themselves light-skinned but the Romans and Greeks thought otherwise? In the absence of images it is a little hard to know what light-skinned is in reference to? The English? Other Polynesian peoples?
As for red hair. Well, it’s not exactly an exclusively Celtic property.
Doutré: 9. Was Sir Peter Buck lying when he recounted the Maori proverb about the white ancestors?
I’m not going to accuse someone of lying. I don’t have the reference to hand but mere reporting of a proverb doesn’t mean the proverb is true. It’s also important to note here that Doutré has a complete double-standard here. He takes Elston Best at his word about the Moriori and ignores the fact that Sir Peter Buck disputes this thesis. Anyway, just because Buck reports a proverb it does not mean that he asserts the proverb to be an historical truth. It also shows a bewilderingly 19th Century view of morphology, making some claim that all peoples of a certain `race’ will all have the same features. I imagine Doutré thinks Maori all look the same and if they don’t, well, that probably proves to him that interbreeding has taken place.
Doutré provides some further details about the Buck quote later in the comments thread of the Scoop Review. He writes:
`In the Auckland Museum there is a hank of beautiful wavy red hair, obtained from a rock shelter near Waitakerei. That it belonged to pre-European days is proved by the root ends being plaited together and bound round with fine braid prepared from the same hair. Curiously enough, the only other specimen of hair in the same case is also bound round with fine hair braid and is dark brown in colourâ€¦As another example of the Maori belief in the inheritance of fair hair from certain ancestors, we have the proverb, “He aha te uru o to tamati? Kapatau he uru korito, he korako, he uru ariki no Pipi”. “What is the hair of your child? Were it flaxen hair or whitish, it would be the hair of high chieftainship from Pipi”. Pipi was a woman of the highest rank who flourished twenty-four generations ago and was the ancestress of the Ngati-Ira tribe’
He then links to Thor Heyerdahl’s book `American Indians in the Pacific.’ Heyerdahl’s thesis, that the Pacific was settled by South Americans, is not generally accepted as a plausible model for two reasons. The first is technology; the South American peoples were not expert navigators or boat builders. Whilst Heyerdahl was, admittedly, able to get from South America to Rapanui/Easter Island he did it with the hindsight of knowing where Rapanui was. South American navigators did not have that advantage. Given a lack of South American material culture in the Pacific Islands it seems they did not get there (but, as previously expressed, contact was made by the Polynesians with South America).
The second problem for Heyerdahl’s thesis is the archaeology of the Pacific; we have, with respect to DNA, climate, weather patterns and material culture, a fairly detailed reconstruction of the migration that lead to the colonisation of the Pacific. The overwhelming evidence that has been collected shows that the Pacific peoples came down out of South-east Asia into the Pacific archipelago. The oldest inhabited sites are located to the West and not to the East. Rapanui/Easter Island, was colonised around 500ACE. Two hundred years earlier they had struck the Cook Islands and Tahiti. The list goes on, going all the way back to the Lapita peoples whose origin is, eventually, the area around what is today known as Taiwan.
Heyerdahl’s thesis is one that is vaguely plausible but fundamentally built on false assumptions. The South Americans could have got to Rapanui and colonised the Pacific, but `could have’ is not the same as `did.’ The evidence is with the Polynesian story, not the South American story. If Doutré is going to assert this thesis he needs to come up with new and innovative studies that discredit the wealth of DNA, climate, weather pattern and material cultural information that is currently available.
Also, South Americans are not Celts. I’m sure most of both groups would be offended to have their unique cultures tarnished by the association.
Doutré: 10. Do the moai statues of Easter Island display Caucasoid facial features and were they crowned with bright red lava top-knots to represent the hair colour of the builders?
A conjoined set of propositions. No, the Moai do not display Caucasoid facial features. They are merely stylised faces. As for the pukao (the topknots), well, they represent some kind of headwear or hair, but the stone (a light red scoria) was probably chosen because it was easy to place on top of the Moai rather than purely because of its colour. If it was a colour choice it was probably to signify red feathered headdresses, although Doutré would likely claim that this was in emulation of some memory of their Celtic forebears.
Doutré: 11. Do the Moai statues of Easter Island show the downwards curved Polynesian ‘rocker jaw’, which is the most prominent identifying feature of Polynesian physiology?
Doutré seems to think that all Moai look the same. They do not. There has been significant aesthetic development of Moai over time and basing your argument on one style of Moai does not a good inference make.
Also, what is this “rocker jaw” that he speaks of? It’s a jaw that, when pushed, in a skeleton, rocks just like a rocking chair. For sometime it was assumed to be a distinctly Polynesian characteristic, but that, it turns out, is a bit of a myth. This paper disputes the claim that it can be used to exclusively identify Polynesian peoples.
Doutré gets the “rocker jaw” Moai thesis from Thor Heyerdahl, who theorised that the peoples of South America had travelled to Easter Island and settled the Pacific Islands. His work goes against the conventional wisdom of the Polynesian migration and has very little evidential support.
Another nail in the coffin for this kind of argument from analogy (the Moai do not look Polynesian so this indicates a non-Polynesian origin for them) is that the analogy is bad. The Moai might have unusual jaws but they also have unusual bodies. It’s a little appreciated (perhaps not widely known) fact that the Moai are not just heads; they are full bodies. The bodies, until recently, have usually been covered by sediment and so only the head of the Moai were visible.
The Moai bodies are very short; about a quarter or a third of the entire statue is the legs, arms and main body that supports the large head. Does this mean that the people they presumably represent (ala Doutré’s thesis) had small bodies and large heads? If Doutré is committed to the notion that the Moai represent Celts due to the unusual jawline of these statues why is he not citing the body proportions as being salient? Is it because he recognises that part of the statue as aesthetic in design? If so, why not the stylised jaw?
Consider this. When Ankhaten was Pharoah of Egypt there was a brief flourishing of a very non-standard (for Egypt) artistic style. The resulting statues have over-developed cranial features, thin limbs and slouched, pronounced stomachs. Are we to think that, for a period of time, the Egyptians looked like typical Grays (we head now, for a time, into UFO territory) or that maybe art, despite what Objectivists think, is not a true and proper representation of reality?
Doutré: 17. Is the Maori Hei-Tiki found from Egypt to Mexico-Peru to New Zealand?
Simple answer; no. Long answer; there are similar statues and carvings, yes, but that tells us nothing important. Decorative figures similar to the hei-tiki occur in many cultures, but this suggests a common aesthetic taste rather than a common artist. The examples Doutré uses to show that the hei-tiki is found elsewhere tend to be small figures worn around the neck. This somewhat suggests that those enamel broaches my grandmother used to wear are a related decoration. Indeed, any culture that wears such figures must, by Doutré’s logic, be related to the Celts2.
It’s interesting to note that Doutré’s question makes it look like the Maori invented the decorative figure and spread it to other cultures. Maybe Doutré is suggesting some Maori Egypt thesis here…
Doutré: 21. Is the New Zealand semi-flightless bird, the Pukeko, found in the Mediterranean and South America and is one depicted climbing on papyrus stems in ancient wall paintings at Medum, Egypt?
This question is a conjunct and so we can say `No’ to it merely because the proposition `The Pukeko is depicted climbing on papyrus stems in ancient wall paintings at Medum, Egypt’ is false. However the bigger issue is whether the Pukeko is found in the Mediterranean and South America, because that might be true.
Except it isn’t. Similar looking birds exist in these regions (nature has a curious tendency to evolve similar structures in similar circumstances) but they are not Pukeko (they are genetically distinct from them).
Doutré: 22. Do ancient `string knot’ calculation or counting devices exist as artefacts in both Peru and New Zealand and are they called by the same recognisable name in both far-flung regions on opposite ends of the Pacific?
I could have put this into my section of questions we can dismiss due to the known trading between the Polynesian peoples and South America, but I haven’t because Doutré is hinting at something else here, some cousin measurement system he claims exists around the world and is widely known about. This measurement system is meant to prove that there was some pan-culture or cultural group that spread the measurement system. It’s not clear where he gets this from; it seems to be based upon finding common ratios between buildings; the British-Israel Society used to do something similar to show that the Great Pyramid of Giza had within its proportions hidden and secret knowledge.
Doutré: 23. Does the Maori myth of Mataora & Niwareka have the same origins as the Greek myth of Orpheus & Euredike?
Doutré points towards this source on the matter. Now, I know a little Ancient Greek and I made use of the services of a Maori speaker to look over the page in question. The Greek translations were inaccurate and so were the Maori, robbing the page of some of its (admittedly little) credibility. For example, Eurydike gets translated as `wide-custom’ when it means `broad-judging.’ That’s no mere small error. A lot of the Maori translations ignore the accepted wisdom that compound words have different meanings to their constituent parts. Very sloppy.
Even if the names are a little off, what about the similarities in the actual stories? Given that there are a lot of stories in Maori mythology about journeys to the Underworld you would need to compare the corpus to the Greek equivalents. In this case there seems to be some structural similarity, but, to sound a little like Jung for a minute, Underworld narratives are common to most cultures. Still, once again, Doutré probably thinks this shows stronger evidence for his Celtic thesis.
Doutré: 27. Are there any identical ancient words in the Maori language to words of the Egyptian or Indo-European languages?
Yes, yes there are. However to show that there is anything more to that than coincidence operating here you’d have to show salient common features of both languages, and studies in Comparative Linguistics say `No.’
Doutré: 28. Is there any similarity between Maori gods and Egyptian-Mediterranean-European & Indo-Aryan gods?
Yes, but what does that mean? There is similarity in that there are gods of things and creation stories, but the similarities aren’t exactly striking. Given that all three cited cultures had pantheons there is bound to be some overlap, but that does not entail a common cause.
Doutré: 29. Are there any examples of old world scripts incised into New Zealand boulders?
Once again, no. Doutré refers to examples of a supposed old script, Ogham, to which no dictionary exists and is mostly suspected to be natural striation and old, weather examples of carvings that look vaguely like writing. None of these texts exist, however, outside the eye of the observer; they are artefacts of looking for evidence rather than evidence waiting to be seen.
So, ten questions, all of which, when properly understood, provide little to no support for a Celtic New Zealand thesis.
Doutré is trying to do a William Corliss (and, indeed, uses some of his data). Corliss collects historical and archaeological anomalies that challenge the accepted or conventional (can I say `consensus’ here? I can? Thanks) wisdom. The problem for Doutré (not so for Corliss, who takes a conservative Fortean approach and rarely speculates as to what the anomalies he accounts might infer) is that he gets the notion of theory and evidence back to front. Your underlying theory determines what is evidence and what is not. Doutré assumes that the Celts must have got here first and so looks for evidence that will back his assumptions. He then finds things that can be interpreted as evidence for the theory and, like most Conspiracy Theorists, finds the evidence against the theory to be Disinformation, data specifically designed to throw `real’ researchers (like himself) off the track. However, the burden of proof is not on holders of the conventional view of the colonisation of New Zealand or the Polynesia migration; it is on `researchersâ€™ such as Doutré. It is they who must prove that their thesis is credible and plausible, a task they have failed miserably at.
Doutré’s evidence for the Celtic New Zealand thesis does not, as this stage, stand scrutiny. Still, he has more of his so-called evidence to present, which has recently seen light as part one of a three part series of articles for `Uncensored,’ a local Conspiracy Theory rag. I’ll be posting my findings about that soonish.
Back to Thesisland.