Wednesday, September 19, 2007

That's twice I've agreed with the Prime Minister this year

I was delighted to see that Dick Scott was given the Prime Minister's award for non-fiction writing. New Zealand is rather short of radical historians. If we had more there'd be more then someone would have written a book about 1951 more recently than 1952. But in 1952 Dick Scott, who was working as a union journalist, recorded those 151 days.

Dick Scott found out about Parihaka when he was reading about a libel trial - the history was that obliterated from Pakeha (and some Maori) conciousness. Resistance to colonisation has been a constant thread of this country's history. The best way to weaken that resistance is to try and wipe the memory of that history. If we see ourselves as alone, as doing something no one has tried before, then we are tiny and insignificant and the task seems impossible. If we see ourselves as part of a chain that goes back through the generations, than anything seems possible.

Dick Scott has kept the links in those chains strong, that's a worthwhile life.


  1. Anonymous2:54 pm

    Maybe but you still have to face the fact that Maori are a conquered people.

  2. I also admire Dick Scott. I recently lent 'Would a good man die?', his book on New Zealand's bizarre and disastrous rule in Niue, to a friend who spends a lot of time there, and
    I've just blogged about the Parihaka prisoners in Dunedin, whom Scott described in Ask That Mountain, in response to an American racist who has been attacking Maori.

    Scott cocked up though when he decided to conclude his otherwise-admirable history of the 1951 waterside lockout with a denunciation of the influence of American comic books on Kiwi kids! Ah well, we all make mistakes.

    Scott has just gifted a chunk of his private his papers to the Auckland museum archives, and a few odds and bobs from them (pages of mss, a leaflet from the '81 tour etc) are on display temporarily in the glass case at the entrance to the museum library. Once the papers are catalogued they will surely be a great resource for left-wing scholars.