The Endeavour was a military invasion

Auckland Peace Action extends its solidarity and support to the Kia Mau Resist250 campaign, which opposes the visit of the replica Endeavour ship and the associated celebration of the beginning of colonisation in Aotearoa.

Captain James Cook was part of the British Navy, and his mission to survey the South Pacific was based on secret orders from the Admiralty. Let us not pretend that his mission was an altruistic voyage of scientific exploration.

When he arrived in Aotearoa he immediately began murdering the local people. He kidnapped and tortured Māori as a way of demonstrating his power. His actions were based on the Doctrine of Discovery; a Christian, white-supremacist directive from the Vatican which viewed indigenous people and their resources as rightfully belonging to the imperial powers of Europe.

Cook’s Endeavour was equipped with 10 four pound cannons and 12 swivel guns. It was a military vessel on a mission of imperial conquest. This set the stage for the settlement and colonisation that followed.

It is obscene that in 2019 the NZ government is funding a celebration of the military invasion of Aotearoa, against the backdrop of entrenched racism and ongoing colonisation.

Māori were a free people prior to the arrival of colonisation. They have never ceded their sovereignty to anyone. Their story as the indigenous people of Aotearoa is not part of a dual story of shared heritage – theirs is the story; pākehā invaders and later arrivals are an add on to that central story.

Imperialism is very much still with us today. The governments of Europe and the resulting settler colonial states, including New Zealand, are built on the stolen land and resources of indigenous people. These imperialist invasions have never stopped: from Afghanistan to Aotearoa, from New Caledonia to New York, from the Philippines to Peru, the devastation of imperialism continues to be imposed upon billions of people every day.

The Kia Mau campaign presents a challenge for us to consider: what do we need to do in order that we can ethically remember the past?

First and foremost we have to face up to the fact that Captain James Cook should not be our society’s hero, but rather should be regarded as a invader who committed atrocities.

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