A Waiheke Island Myth
The 'Omiha' thing was nothing but the invention of a couple of Irish-Belgian Pakeha, who grossly insulted Maoritanga when for marketing reasons they appropriated a whole lot of Maori symbolism in their marketing prospectus so as to sell what in today's money was over six million dollars worth of sections in their subdivision. For that they needed a Maori name, so they changed 'Rocky Bay', the correct name of the bay to 'Omiha Bay', which they had no right in law to do, then used the first word of that unlawful label as their name for the name of the village, which had nothing to do with the original name of the land: Kuakarau. But history and usage prevailed, so the right name, Rocky Bay, again became the name by which the bay was known by all and sundry, and therefore the village too. As the old saying goes: 'Truth will out.'
The bay first appears labelled Rocky Bay on an 1865 Maori Land Court map that accompanied a successful claim in that year by three Maori men to joint-ownership of the Kuakarau Block (there is a copy of that map later on this page). In none of the genealogies that they recounted to the Court, which it recorded in the minutes, and nowhere in the Court record, is there any mention of any 'Omiha' or 'Miha' or or 'O Miha' or 'Mihi' or 'Au Miha' (which covers all of the spurious verbal stories about the 'Omiha' name that have been bandied about at various times--none of them with any official documentary provenance and all false). The Court minutes make no mention of a single one of those variations on 'Omiha', only of Kuakarau. Why should it? They are all arrantly false. That block was acquired by a Pakeha in 1897, then farmed. Twenty-five years later it was subdivided and became the present village. As the photos show, such as the one below which was taken in or about 1922 before the subdivision, it was then only farmland and bush.
The error, the mistaken falsehood, wilful lie, or whatever it may be in whatever quarter... can be traced to the misreading of a Crown map of 1877--i.e., reading the name of a mere whare (a Maori hut) as the name of a bay, and ignoring the label 'Rocky Bay' and moving that label to Whakanewha Bay. To those blunders were was added work behind the scenes--outside due process of law--by parties with a personal interest that they did not declare, sometimes embellished with a nice little story for which there is no documentary provenance. To that has now been added misfeasance--wrongdoing by officials--blatant, egregious wrongdoing by officials who lied to the New Zealand Geographic Board (NZGB) and wilfully misled it into a wrong judgement.
No private, unoffficial sign can change any of the facts, even if it has just been refurbished (in mid June 2017) with a lick or two of paint. An error is an error, not matter how many times it is repeated, or painted.
As well as being unlawful the 'Omiha' myth is wrong: it is entirely untrue. The proof of that was established long ago. In 1877 the government, the Crown, did an extremely detailed map of Waiheke Island, a map so detailed that it even recorded the names of whares (Maori huts) as the names of those who owned them or dwelt in them (in those days roads were virtually non-existent and thus postal addresses had yet to be so dwellings were marked with names). That map clearly recorded the name of the bay as Rocky Bay, as had the Maori Land Court map twenty-two years earlier. And in the area above it, which became the Rocky Bay Village, the map also recorded three whares: Kuakarau, after which the block was named, and two subsidiary whares, Ohinearei and Omiha. So Omiha was only the name of a whare, never the name of either the bay or the village.
The notion that 'Omiha' is the alternative name for Rocky Bay is therefore erroneous, a misreading of a map, a misreading that for some became wilful, a misreading given false provenance by force of personality, by mana, by endless self-reinforcing repetition, by the scornful rejection of every bit of the hard evidence to the contrary, by pulling fictitious strings behind the scenes, etc. Worst of all, none of that activity employed due process of law, it evaded, avoided and ignored the process laid down in the New Zealand Geographic Board (Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa) Act 2008 and the equivalent legislation that preceded it. In short, 'Omiha' was illegally inserted on to the map (by Pakeha who shall not be named here to protect possible sensitivities).
There is not a skerrick of true documentary evidence for the notion that 'Omiha' was ever the Maori name for either the village or the bay at its foot. On the contrary. But the solid, independent evidence in official, Crown documentation done in 1865 and 1877 is for Rocky Bay--and no other name--for the village and therefore also the village--all Waiheke's seaside villages take their names from the bays on which they are situated. But, unfortunately, repetition of any myth takes on the semblance of established fact, and in the case of 'Omiha' that has now reached such a state that anyone who shows the documentary proof that there is only name--Rocky Bay--for both the bay and the village is likely to be treated with contempt, pilloried, mocked and scorned, ignored, even abused. In earlier years what was then called the Waiheke Community Board appointed me as Rocky Bay spokesperson, which was perfectly correct, but then, to my astonishment, refused to have Rocky Bay gazetted.
Misrepresentation and falsification of history remain misrepresentation and falsification no matter how many times they are asserted. Assertion does not create fact. Fact is what fact is. Endless repetition of an unlawful falsehood does not make it true. The undeniable fact here is that Rocky Bay is the name of the bay and the village. Not 'Omiha.' It does not matter how many times you claim that the Earth is flat, it remains round.
To repeat what bears repeating, because it is so often dishonoured, in New Zealand law no geographic placename is official until gazetted by the New Zealand Geographic Board, as laid down in the New Zealand Geographic Board (Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa) Act 2008. Unfortunately, 10,000 New Zealand placenames have yet to be gazetted--including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Waiheke Island, etc., etc., etc. Thus in the twenty-first century the map of New Zealand is a mess, because there are a vast number of names in everyday use, names that are well-established in free custom, even with a great deal of Crown provenance, but have no official standing in law. That includes Rocky Bay; for despite being recorded officially by the Crown in 1865 and 1877 it has still not been gazetted!!! Or even recognised. One hundred and forty years, surely, is enough time for a branch of modern officialdom to notice what the government's judicial and administrative branches laid down in the nineteenth century--for Crown employees to obey the Crown.
Unfortunately the bureaucrats who advise the NZGB, the so-called secretariat, has repeatedly lied to the Board--they committed misfeasance--by claiming that 'Omiha' is the original Maori name, which has misled the Board into making rejecting the truth: Rocky Bay. Original means first, it means that nothing preceded it, and that that is a demonstrable, documented fact. None of the those qualifications apply to 'Omiha'. It is not even an original Maori name for the bay or the village, only for a whare that was there in the nineteenth century, and by 1922 had been long gone. But, of course, bureaucrats cannot bring themselves to say 'We goofed; we'll fix it', so they still fight to maintain the 'Omiha' falsehood. Still, they are in effect rudely telling Rocky Bay people that they do not know where they live.
But the official vacuum of 10,000 has enabled unofficial, de facto 'standards' to multiply, and in the case of Rocky Bay they have added seeming credence to the Omiha myth by repeating it in ways that look official but are neither official nor lawful. Google Earth, for example, has picked up the error, as have other publishers of maps, from the worst of those de facto 'standards', and the source of many repeats of the Omiha error, which is the unofficial system, the Address Finder, created and administered by the New Zealand Post Office under the management of a Mr Geoffrey Pearse, its Addressing Services Manager. That system not only perpetuates the myth it has gone so far as to enforce it rigidly. Its Address Finder refuses to recognise Rocky Bay; it only recognises Omiha; it threatens large organisations with the loss of bulk-mailing discounts if they do not comply with its system; and its online version bluntly declares Rocky Bay invalid and only Omiha valid. That bureaucratic ignorance and instransigence means that the computer systems of entities all over the world which access the Post Office system to check the validity of New Zealand addresses are being wilfully and unlawfully misled; and in consequence when people in Rocky Bay fill in their personal details on paper or online they later find that the 'Rocky Bay' they put down has been altered to 'Omiha'--a place that does not, in truth, exist on Waiheke. And is confused with Omaha on the mainland.
NZ Post/Mr Pearse points the finger of blame, excuse, justification--call it what you will--at other entities, including the Fire Service, Auckland Council, and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), and LINZ's list of unofficial placenames, from which NZ Post has chosen not to select Rocky Bay-- despite copious evidence against that and many presentations of the truth. Officers in LINZ, which serves the NZGB, point a finger at the Council and, despite the indisputable documentary provenance, falsely claimed that Omiha is 'the original Maori name' for the 'locality'. Then they compounded that falsehood by not putting it square on the village on its ungazetted map, instead off the side!). So a horde of falsehoods circles the main unlawful falsehood, like crippled rats round a cache of rotten food.
One of the countless entities that have been boondoggled by the combination of the Omiha myth and the enforcement of it by the Post Office's unofficial system is of course the Electoral Commission. One effect of that was that not long after I arrived on the island many years ago I found myself disenfranchised--removed from the electoral roll--because my new address would not go into the electoral system. Since then the Electoral Commission has had to add a private area to its system, an area that only its staff can access, in which they can store correct information to counter whatever wrong information the Post Office might insist on. The national call centres of the three emergency services--ambulance, fire and police--also have the wrong name for the Rocky Bay Village in their systems, which creates a dangerous situation, because people in Rocky Bay may only have time to blurt out 'Rocky Bay' before they have to hang up, so the response may be too late. Life and property are constantly at risk due to the bureaucratic botch-up, the unlawful label, the wilful messing about behind the scenes.its system.
That danger must be emphasised by repetitition. If you live in Rocky Bay and have an emergency, and only have time to gasp out your street and village, the service you needed would not be able to find you. Your big heart-attack would kill you, the thugs would invade your home, your home would burn to the ground. Therefore that artificial insinuation of a false name, outside law, is not just a chronic nuisance it is life-threatening.
The Earthquake Commission is another of the countless organisations that have the wrong information, thanks to the unlawful Omiha myth and Post Office's unlawful enforcement of it (which caused an EQC officer to think that she could drive all the way to the island, because she thought the person in Rocky Bay who wanted an evaluation lived in Omaha, which is up north on the mainland, where the Prime Minister has a holiday home). A huge amount of time and energy all over the world is being wasted, because people are obliged by myth and bureaucratic Post Office intransigence to 'fix' computer data that was never wrong. The danger caused by wrong information in the emergency services is increased by the fact that 'Omiha' and 'Omaha' sound exactly the same, and that there is coincidence of like-sounding street-names Omiha Road and Omaha Drive.
The unlawful Omiha myth and the enforcement of it by the Post Office can mean, and does mean, that items destined for a Rocky Bay address may not arrive. They go elsewhere, or you may be told that delivery is impossible so they will never be collected, or they may be returned to the sender marked 'undeliverable'. I was on the verge of being accused of theft because a valuable item from Dell Computers, which was to be paid for on arrival, did not reach me. I finally tracked it down to a courier bin in Christchurch, and the courier company told me that there was an address very close to mine in that city, but it had not been delivered because everything in the address did not match there. In that case I knew something was missing, because of the close call with a serious accusation, but I often wonder how many deliveries never reach people, which they never knew about.
It is long past the time that the Omiha myth was acknowledged as a myth that was perpetuated unlawfully, and dismissed and killed off. Only accurate information should rule. Inaccurate information always causes problems, major and minor, and it always wastes time--in this case the time of people responsible for computer systems all over the planet.
To get things right, Rocky Bay, and that name alone, should be gazetted for the name of the village and the name of the bay. It alone has the indisputable provenance; it alone has the indisputable evidence; it alone is indisputably the true name for both.
The statutes are crystal clear. The Imperial Laws Application Act 1988 says that when due process of law is not followed, when justice and right are denied or even only deferred, then any decision made is 'void and holden for error' and 'shall be redressed and holden for none' (there shall be legal action and the wrong action will be made nothing). That specifically applies, amongst other things, to 'free customs', which that Act gives legal force in Crown low, and in this case 'Rocky Bay' has both government provenance, Crown provenance, and long-established free custom. 'Omiha', the whare long gone, has neither. On top of that, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 says that in official decisions 'everyone has the right to the observance of the principles of natural justice,' and the Privy Council has ruled that 'natural justice' means 'fairness writ large.' Thus any decision that does not support Rocky Bay as the name of the bay and the village, to the exclusion of anything else, is unlawful many times over. It is not just, it is not right, it is not natural justice, it is not fairness writ large, it has nothing to do with due process of law. And thus it is open to legal action--which should and must be taken against wrongdoing--'shall be redressed'. This matter of the right names of this bay and village should have been fixed years ago with a simple please and a thank-you, but the unlawful actions and misfeasance determined to perpetuate a false name and give it legal claim have now escalated this matter to war. That is most regrettable. But take notice, all those officials who attempt to support the wrong names and refuse to support the right ones, you will face legal action. And statute and provenance and free custom will by the grace of God hand you defeat. Crown provenance of 1877 and the usage of free custom establish the truth; the 'Omiha' myth cannot stand against it.
(All those who are in any way related, however distant, to the man or woman called Omiha [both genders have been claimed], and whose hut is labelled on the 1877 map, should declare their interest and stay out of the discussion. The same goes for any who seek, by whatever spurious excuse, to support the unsupportable, false assertion that 'Omiha' is the original Maori name of the bay and the village. It was the Kuakarau Block; it was Kuakarau land; 'Omiha' was at most a subsidiary whare)
Behind the Scenes
A part of this constant push behind the scenes to get Omiha as the name of the village arises from a nice little story that it goes back to a captured slave woman called Omiha who lived where Omiha Road now is (but NZGB bureaucrats have suggested that it was actually a man called Moses and that it was O Miha, meaning 'Of Moses'; and have also suggested that it is Au Miha meaning rough seas and whale calves). But although strong feelings about an ancestor are very understandable, that does not give those who may have them any right to trample on history, the truth, common practice, established practice and due process of law to get their way, and thereby endanger life and property because 111 calls will bring a speedy response or no response at all. Perhaps the notion that 'Omiha' was the name of the whole village was originally a misapprehension coloured by romantic desire, which then became an article of fond family faith, but the best way of keeping faith with ancestors--indeed the only way--is to stick to the truth. It is certainly not keeping faith with any forebear who got things wrong by blocking attempts to set things right.
One of the more recent attempts to set things right was again blocked by behind-the-scenes efforts.They are obliged to be behind the scenes because there are no facts to support them. That has been going on for years: unlawful manipulation behind the scenes to make semingly official the will of a few, perhaps of only one or two families. Every attempt to install the truth has been invisibly killed off.
It is disappointing that prime movers for one family deploy great mana to triumph over the historical facts. Those persons are most wonderful and admirable, truly most wonderful and admirable, but even great mana cannot make endlessly repetition of false facts into true ones. And in this case, if they were to be true to what they usually are--blindingly honest and manifesting great integrity--they would change, would side with historical fact, would side with long-established common usage by the rest of the world, would side with due process of law, would cease getting at decision-makers behind the scenes, would put public safety at the top of the list, and would admit the truth--namely, that the two places where 'Omiha' might look official (village and bay) are only false provenance arising from groundless repetition. Then the only support for be for the only name that has true provenance as the name of the village and the bay: Rocky Bay.
The Facts, the Evidence, the Indisputable Historical Provenance
Again, one of the earliest pieces of documentary provenance for the name of the bay being Rocky Bay is on the official government map dated 1877, registration number 1667, held by the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which shows 'land adjudicated by the Native Land Court, land sold under Sir George Grey's Regulations 1853, old land claims, penny-an-acre grants, grants under Auckland Waste Lands Act 1858, and land alienated to general government.' The entire map covers Waiheke Island. This is the bit that covers Rocky Bay:
As all can see, the name of the bay is Rocky Bay--and nothing else. In those far-off days there was no village, just a collection of Maori establishments on which there were four Maori names recorded, two for areas, two for whares. The two names for areas were Kauakarau (a misspelling of Kuakarau that was later corrected by the late Kato Kauwhata who was then Waiheke's Maori Elder, and the correction was confirmed and gazetted by the NZGB), and Ko Hikapua. (Kaukarau is on the map twice, and circled between the repeats is what the librarian at Auckland Museum has identified as 342, a survey number associated with Kauakarau). The names of the two subsidiary whares recorded were Onhinearei and Omiha. Omiha is said by some to be a woman, by others to be a man, who lived in that whare; others have other explanations. That spot is now the western end of Omiha Road, so the name of the road, and only that, has excellent provenance. Unfortunately, the name of the Ohinearei whare has been lost to history, because nothing is named after it.
The big bay east of Rocky Bay, labelled Whakanewha Bay on the 1877 map, which is now the seaward edge of the Whakenewha Regional Park, and was in those days the seaward edge of the Maori block called the Whakanewha Block, is also misrepresented by the New Zealand Geographic Board's secretariat, as well by many uniformed printers of maps, which label it as 'Rocky Bay (Whakanewha Bay)', which is quite wrong, a fact underlined by the placement of the modern label 'Whakanewha' on the land above that bay, land that does not spill over to the land above Rocky Bay. So Rocky Bay is Rocky Bay; Whakanewha Bay is Whakanewha Bay. Two separate names for two bays. That is also what modern usage has long established. Whakanewha Bay is also clearly labelled as that and nothing else on an 1857 Crown map prepared by the Admiralty (detailed further down in this blog article), indeed far more clearly than on the 1877 map.
The documentation with the government's 1877 map, which was supplied by Auckland War Memorial Museum, states that the then government recorded the names of Maori whares. They were clearly marked with a small squarish dot beside them to differentiate them from other details. In the Rocky Bay area there are two names beside square dots: Ohinearei and Omiha. Omiha was a whare. A whare. A whare is not a bay or a village. It is a whare. A Maori hut. That makes nonsense of the chronic false insertion of 'Omiha' as the name of the bay and the village. As does the photo taken before the subdivision was done in 1922, which shows no whare; whatever had been there was long gone.
Underlining that the definition of 'whare' in the on-line Maori dictionary: whare
1. (noun) house, building, residence, dwelling, shed, hut, habitation, suit (cards).
Not village, not a bay, not a beach. But even if it did include any of those words the government map of 1877 does not plonk 'Omiha' in the bay or splat it across the village area. It places it on a spot that is now one end of Omiha Road.
Added to all that ineluctable provenance is Wise's Auckland Provincial Directory of 1950-51, 'containing the official list of over 1200 townships' extending from Gisborne to Whangarei. It had an entry for Rocky Bay on page 132 between its entries for Riverhead and Roranui, but between its entries for Omapere and Oneroa there is nothing--there is no Omiha. Indeed, there is no Omiha anywhere in Wise's, not just not on Waiheke Island. The listing for Rocky Bay did not show the names of every resident, only forty-nine of them, including the New Zealand Insurance Agent, J.F. McAuslin, and Mrs Annie M. O'Brien, after whose family Bush Road was changed to O'Brien Road, which is Rocky Bay's central main road and became the road into the village when it was extended up to the quarry later in the 1950's. Thus it is clear that the Omiha myth has been wrongly pushed upon us behind the scenes in far more recent years.
In Islands of the Gulf by Shirley Maddock & Don Whyte published by Collins in 1968, she refers on page 280 paragraph 3 to 'the Hodsons at Rocky Bay'. ('Omiha' is of course not mentioned anywhere in the book--it is a non-fiction work).
Added to that is the fact that a local Rocky Bay society set up in 1933, which was persuaded to call itself after the woman/man called Omiha whose whare had been close to a parcel of land it purchased, and so was persuaded to call itself the Omiha Recreational and Welface Society Incorporated (OWRS). But, despite that baseless oddity, it states clearly in Clause 3 of its articles of incorporation, dated the 19th of October 1933, that it is there for the Rocky Bay community; it makes no mention of any joint name; it is all Rocky Bay, Rocky Bay, Rocky Bay, and nothing else.
There may be some who see exposing the unlawful Omiha myth as an affront to the OWRS, even as an attack on it. It most certainly is not. The OWRS is not affected by establishing the geographic facts from solid historical evidence. Its name remains the same. A society in a village or town or city is not obliged to use the name of its locality, even if logically it should. It can call itself whatever it pleases, as did the OWRS--but as shown it clearly stated that the reason for its existence is Rocky Bay.
There may be some who think that exposing the Omiha myth is an attack on Maori and Maoridom. It most certainly is not. It is only on an error that happens to be a Maori word. If things were the other way about and the provenance were for Omiha and the myth was for Rocky Bay it would be the latter that would be attacked as wrong. I have successfully applied for the gazetting of three names on Waiheke Island: Te Akau O Hine, Tanerore Cove, and the correction of a misspelling--Kauakarau Bay to Kuakarau Bay. All are Maori names, and I was proud and happy to establish them in law.
No, the attack is on an error and nothing else. Certainty of nomenclature for our whereabouts is important and untoward consequences are always caused by uncertainty and error, particularly in this electronic, Internet age. This is all about setting the record straight.
Mr Jones has the right to be called Mr Jones and nothing else, because that is what his documentary record shows and proves. So does Rocky Bay, for the same reason. To persist in calling him Mr Smith because someone decided to prefer that is not just perpetuating a pointless myth, it is not just perpetuating a left-field 'mistake', it is wilfully perpetuating a lie. He is Jones, Jones, Jones.
In the real world the road-signs and bus-signs etc., have it right. It is long past time for everything else to do the same:
Part 2: More Crown Provenance
Part 3: Fatal Consequence
Finally, here are the concluding minutes of the 1865 Maori Land Court hearing that that map accompanied, in which three-way joint ownership of the 212-acre Kuakarau Block was certified by the Court.