Maoris, Moors and Migrants
A history lesson for civilized humans facing an Ork invasion
by Matthew Bracken
From ‘Moriori’, by Denise Davis and Māui Solomon, in Te Ara — the Encyclopedia of New Zealand:
Hundreds of years ago the Moriori, of the Chatham Islands, took a solemn vow of peace known as Nunuku’s Law. The decision to uphold this sacred law in the face of aggression in 1835 had tragic consequences. They were slaughtered, enslaved, and dispossessed of their lands. The Moriori lived on Chatham Island and Pitt Island, two islands in the Chatham Islands group, about 700 kilometers south-east of Wellington.
Nunuku’s Law: Isolated from mainland New Zealand, the Moriori developed a unique culture based on a law of peace. This was called Nunuku’s Law, after the ancestor Nunuku-whenua. After seeing bloody conflict between the Hamata people and later arrivals, he banned murder and the eating of human flesh forever. After 1791, when the British ship Chatham called at Rēkohu, Moriori came into contact with Europeans and Māori who came as crew on sealing and whaling vessels. Some settled on the islands and lived alongside the Moriori. This relative peace was shattered in 1835 when Maoris from two tribes, both from Taranaki, arrived in the Chatham Islands in search of new territories and resources.
In 1835, 24 generations after the Moriori chief Nunuku had forbidden war, the Moriori welcomed about 900 people from the two Māori tribes. Originally from Taranaki on New Zealand’s North Island, they had voyaged from Wellington on an overcrowded European vessel, the Rodney. They arrived severely weakened, but were nursed back to health by their Moriori hosts. However, they soon revealed hostile intentions and embarked on a reign of terror.
Stunned, the Moriori called a council of 1,000 men at Te Awapātiki to debate their response. The younger men were keen to repel the invaders, and argued that even though they had not fought for many centuries, they outnumbered the newcomers two-to-one and were a strong people. But the elders argued that Nunuku’s Law was a sacred covenant with their gods and could not be broken. The consequences for Moriori were devastating.
Although the total number of Moriori first slaughtered was said to be around 300, hundreds more were enslaved and later died. Some were killed by their captors. Others, horrified by the desecration of their beliefs, died of ‘kongenge’ or despair [often suicide by leaping from cliffs]. According to records made by their elders, 1,561 Moriori died between 1835 and 1863, when they were released from slavery. Many succumbed to diseases introduced by Europeans, but large numbers died at the hands of the Maoris. In 1862 only 101 remained. When the last known full-blooded Moriori died in 1933, many thought this marked the extinction of a race.
The Maori and the Chatham Islanders
On Chatham Island, 800 kilometers east of New Zealand, lived the Moriori, who were related to the Maori. They were hunters and gatherers, sparse in population and, perhaps because they were few in number and isolated, they were unpracticed at warfare. In late 1835 about 900 Maori from New Zealand landed on Chatham Island. The Maori were armed with guns, clubs and axes. They announced to the Moriori that they were their slaves. Moriori chiefs conferred with each other and drew from their religious heritage. [Nunuku’s Law.] They offered the Maori friendship and a share of the island’s resources. The attempt to appease the Maori failed. The Maori began killing the Moriori, including women and children. The Maori put people in pens and feasted on the tender meat of Moriori children. A Maori conqueror described it:
We took possession, in accordance with our customs and we caught all the people. Not one escaped. Some ran away from us. These we killed, and others we killed – but what of that? It was in accordance with our custom.
The lesson of Chatham Island is that people who live in comfortable circumstances for enough generations to forget the horrors of anarchy and total war, will often let down their guard to a fatal degree. The examples I will compare are Chatham Island in 1835, the Island of Plenty from my Alienork Way allegory, and Europe today. It is my observation that, in a well-calculated series of defined steps and expected responses, alien Orks (taken from “The Alienork Way”) can overcome and subdue even an outwardly more affluent, powerful and successful society.