Writer trashes origins of Maori
A RETIRED English naval captain, who claims in an international best-selling book that China discovered the world in the 15th century, says Maori don't exist as a race.
They were the product of Melanesian slaves raping Chinese prostitutes, writer Gavin Menzies said.
Menzies, author of 1421: The Year China Discovered the World, condemned New Zealand academics including the late Michael King, who, he says, "just doesn't understand New Zealand history".
Yesterday, Waikato University revealed it had asked Menzies to stop using its data on his website and in his books.
"We asked him to remove those, not because we were not happy with the dates, but because we were not overly happy with being associated with his interpretations of those dates," said Fiona Petchey of Waikato's internationally recognised carbon-dating unit.
Menzies was in Auckland promoting his latest edition, which centres on the voyage of a fleet of Chinese ships dispatched to explore the world by China's emperor Zhu Di in 1421.
The book contains copies of a map of the world that is believed to have been drawn during that voyage, and which may have been used by Christopher Columbus to rediscover the Americas.
The book centres on a map unveiled by its owner, Chinese lawyer Liu Gang, in January. He said it was an authentic 1763 copy of the 1418 original.
The original has not been found, but a 1763 copy could prove it existed, giving credence to the theory that Chinese sailors travelled the globe long before Europeans.
A fragment of the map was carbon-dated at the Waikato University unit, which said its tests showed there was an 80 per cent probability that the paper dated to either 1640-1690 or 1730-1810.
Dr Petchey stressed they had only tested the paper itself and not the ink on it. "Anyone can draw anything on it afterward. Anyone could obtain ancient paper."
She said she had had no contact at all with Menzies. "I do not stand behind the majority of what Gavin Menzies said and his overall theory I do not agree with. It's somewhat far-fetched."
Menzies, 69, said Maori origin stories were "just fantasy".
"I say the seven great canoes were Chinese ships. I can show a hell of a lot more evidence that the Chinese were here before the Maori than the Maoris can produce, other than their own folklore."
Chinese miners were in New Zealand from about 286 BC, he said. They brought concubines from China and on the way to New Zealand picked up Melanesian slaves who revolted, killed the Chinese men and took the women for themselves.
This, he said, was the origin of the Maori people.
Menzies said his book had been well-received around the world but had drawn hostile criticism in New Zealand -- because academics were government servants out to protect their pensions.
"People just don't believe them any more. I think they live in boxes and their whole way of teaching history is fundamentally flawed, from the bottom up."
Copyright 2006 Wellington Newspapers Limited. All Rights Reserved
The Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand)
May 6, 2006