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New Book Says Brutal Attack in New Zealand Land Wars Never Happened

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A controversial publishing house accused of promoting anti-Maori views has published a new book, which insists one of the most brutal Crown attacks during New Zealand’s land wars never happened .

Piers Seed’s Hoani’s last fight, the latest work in the Tross Publishing collection, claims to tell the true story of the 1864 invasion of Rangiaowhia, denying that Maori were burned to death there in a whare karakia or church.

“[The book] really hurts me because innocent people suffered,” said Hazel Wander, the great-granddaughter of Wikitoria Te Mamae Pahi, who fled the invasion.

“The whare karakia (place of worship) was reduced to ashes and inside this whare karakia were the tūpuna (ancestors).”

The invasion of Rangiaowhia would have involved more than 1000 soldiers.

It was a prosperous village, known for its extensive food production and home to non-combatants who, according to historian Vincent O’Malley, were mainly women, children and the elderly.

He said he was likely aiming to cut off the food supply to the Kiingitanga, who were seen as “rebels”, and claim his productive land.

“A group of people inside a whare opened fire on Crown forces as they approached them, and eventually these troops set fire to the whare and those within inside are burned to death,” he said.

“There are several eyewitness accounts that indicate this happened, that the fire was deliberately started…and that the settlement was mainly occupied by women, children and elderly men as well.”

After Wander’s great-grandmother Wikitoria fled the invasion, she told her elders what she had seen and was later given the name Te Mamae, which means “the pain”.

She said that Wikitoria passed on stories about what she saw so that no one would forget them.

“One of the little four-year-old boys, she remembers the old people telling her to run, because her clothes were on fire.

” What did they do ? They shot him. A four year old boy.

But some of the atrocities she describes are dismissed in Hoani’s Last Stand.

Seed denies that Maori were burned alive in a church or that the village was attacked.

The author claims that the Crown’s objective was to secure it peacefully, but the situation escalated when troops were fired upon.

He acknowledges that a number of houses were burnt down, but suggests this was not intended to kill Maori, only to drive them away.

“It’s exactly the same as starving someone, only two weeks faster,” he wrote.

Tross Publishing told 1News in a statement that it supports the publication.

“Tross Publishing rejects each of these claims because the book is based on all known written evidence of the time – both Native and European – which is given in full at the end, and not on oral accounts which may be unreliable – especially after several generations,” he said.

“With its precision, its many details and its many references, it is a book that we are proud to have published.”

But Tom Roa, a descendant of Thomas Power and his wife Kahutoi, who lived in Rangiaowhia, dismissed this.

“If I was to secure Rangiaowhia and not attack Rangiaowhia, then why bring some 1,200 members of the most powerful army in the world at that time to a village of old men, women, children and disabled people? It is incomprehensible “, he said.

“They were coming here to take the land, to take the livelihood of these people who were thriving. And part of the sadness of that was that it was the Maori and the Pākehā who were thriving together.”

Crown eyewitness account described a house deliberately lit by troops and seeing seven charred bodies visible from the rubble.

Descendants of the people who lived there believe that although it did not look like a traditional place of worship, it was the burning church that many refer to.

“Our oral histories say whare was designated whare karakia because there was a cross above it,” said Tom Roa.

It’s unknown if stores and libraries will stock this book, but previous books published by Tross are sold in stores across the country, are available at public libraries, and have even been shown to high schools.

Roa said he hopes people read them with caution.

“I want to encourage people to look at this evidence, to verify the authenticity of this evidence.”

READ MORE: Firm accused of publishing anti-Maori books promoting books in schools

Wander said she believes the latest edition to Tross Publishing’s collection doesn’t belong on any shelf.

READ MORE: Educators say publishers’ books are anti-Maori, hateful and fake

“It’s lying to my grandmother, it’s lying to my mother…what I wish would happen to this book is to be taken off the shelves,” he said. she declared.