New Zealand Discovery History: Cracking the myth and moving from fringe to mainstream: the Portuguese and Spanish exploration theories

Good news. We are in the midst of an intelligent debate about the European discovery of New Zealand and Australia. The glass is cracking around the negative stigma that has surrounded the theories on the Portuguese and Spanish discovery of Australia and New Zealand for the past 30 years. These theories appear to be moving from being presented as fringe ideas to being discussed in the mainstream as real possibilities.

Why?

Because of you – society – it is changing. People are information and knowledge hungry – you want to know the arguments for and against a topic and make up your own mind – as opposed to being told ‘this is what happened or this is what you should believe,’ or in academic circles, not having the discussion around the theories at all for fear of being criticised.

With the glass cracking, those that have written about the Spanish and Portuguese voyages theories over the past 228 years – the likes of Alexander Dalrymple (1786), Richard Henry Major (1859), George Collingridge (1895), José Toribio Medina (1918), Robert Langdon (1975 and 1988), Kenneth McIntyre (1977 and 1982), Helen Wallis (1981), Roger Hervé (1983), Ross Wiseman (1996), and Peter Trickett (2007), must be saying ‘about time.’

Some examples from these venerable historians.

New Zealand first.

In 1894, over 120 years ago, two of New Zealand’s most gifted historians, Dr Thomas Hocken and Dr Robert McNab, theorised that further research might reveal that the true story of the discovery of New Zealand had yet to be told, writing:

“Doubtless before Tasman, there were voyagers who had visited New Zealand … We are justified in thinking that there are buried in the old archives of Portugal and of Spain journals which, if found, would give an earlier account of New Zealand than those which we consider our earliest … The iron-bound chests of Portugal and of Spain are the probable repositories of these treasures, or they may have been emptied into the Papal and monkish libraries … and may lie covered with the accumulated dust of centuries.”

Similarly, the late Dr Helen Wallis, United Kingdom based and the president of every cartography organisation imaginable, and who reviewed in detail the sixteenth century maps that are purported to indicate a discovery voyage of Australia and New Zealand, wrote, “The answer to the enigma may be regarded as non-proven, but with the balance of evidence in favour of a Portuguese discovery of Australia,” (1988).

What the likes of Hocken and McNab and Wallis indicate, and they are just examples, is that across multiple generations people have reviewed some of the evidence of Portuguese or Spanish exploration to New Zealand and Australia – the likes of the sixteenth century Dieppe Maps – and seen the same thing and drawn the same conclusion – that being that the Portuguese probably discovered Australia and New Zealand, and the Spanish may have also voyaged to New Zealand pre-Tasman.

And there are plenty more examples from some of the top writers of their generation.

In 2016, it appears that their work is finally coming to the fore.

Where have we got to in 2016?

  • Three government institutions in three different countries consider the Spanish and Portuguese discovery theories a possibility
  • We are currently in the midst of a debate on that possibility

Three government institutions in three different countries (New Zealand, Spain and Portugal) now consider the Portuguese and Spanish theories a possibility, and some a probability, following a review of the evidence presented in Conquistador Puzzle Trail, which presents both the excellent work completed by historians over the past two centuries and new original research.

New Zealand:

New Zealand’s well-respected and forward thinking national encyclopedia, Te Ara, have a high threshold for making changes to the encylopedia and seek to avoid the inclusion of content that is speculative or highly contentious. Ministry for Culture and Heritage chief historian Neill Atkinson recently stated: “after considering Winston Cowie’s recently published research, we felt that small changes to the text [re the Spanish and Portuguese] would improve the European discovery entry.”

Spain:

Well-structured and impeccably researched, this important work [Conquistador Puzzle Trail] will have a strong impact on the academic representation of conquistadors as well as a wide array of consequences for the future understanding of New Zealand history. We feel incredibly fortunate to witness such a thorough investigation into the history of New Zealand in which we can really appreciate the links shared with Portuguese and Spanish explorers. In our case, the confirmation of these ties between Spain and New Zealand will undoubtedly strengthen the positive relationship that our two countries already share and cherish. At the same time, we would like to acknowledge all of the time and energy devoted to the research that has gone into this investigative work. Throughout the pages, we discover new elements of New Zealand culture and history that invite us to truly believe that Mr Winston Cowie´s theory is correct. Congratulations on the completion of this excellent work.”

Pablo Mateu García, Educational Advisor of the Embassy of Spain, New Zealand.

Portugal:

A fascinating book and an important contribution for the investigation about the Portuguese having been the first Europeans to reach Australia and New Zealand almost 500 years ago.”

Paulo Cunha Alves, Ambassador of Portugal to Australia and New Zealand.

Both the Spanish and Portuguese embassies to Australia and New Zealand also kindly gave permission for their logos to be included on Conquistador Puzzle Trail as a sign of the cooperation and collaboration shared whilst researching and writing.

Conquistador Puzzle Trail - Back Cover Reviews

Conquistador Puzzle Trail – Reviews

Following the addition by Te Ara of Conquistador Puzzle Trail to the national encyclopedia’s references, in 2016 the Portuguese and Spanish discovery debate became a topic of discussion at the national level.

The New Zealand discovery debate

Following the recent forward-thinking initiative of Te Ara, the first recent nationwide article in the debate appeared, good news, although the presentation of the news was presented as a negative – with comments that were described as ‘rubbishing’ the Spanish and Portuguese theories dominating the national headline. That article and those comments can be found here.

My response to that article entitled ‘About that rubbish: The Portuguese and Spanish voyaged to New Zealand Pre Tasman,’ is located here, and provides a case study as to how the conversation in the media in respect of the theory has played out over the last 30 years. The conclusion – society deserves better than the dismissive rhetoric that it has been served up on this subject for the past 30 years. It is no longer relevant.

What is required is intelligent and respectful debate in order to move knowledge forward.

The New Zealand Listener Article

Enter the New Zealand Listener magazine, ever relevant and on point, who were the next to run a national article on the debate, entitled ‘Did the Spanish or Chinese visit New Zealand first?’

Winston Cowie Listener

It is an intelligently written article by Matthew Wright, a New Zealand historian and fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and as per the approach of the various government institutions, it well and truly brings the Portuguese and Spanish European discovery of New Zealand and Australia out of the shadows and into the plausible.

On this genre, it considers the Spanish Juan Fernandez discovery theory (1576-78), the Portuguese Christopher Mendonca theory (1522-24), the wreck of the fabled lost Spanish caravel, the San Lesmes theory (1527) and puts forward Wright’s view on them.

What a breath of fresh air to have those theories debated in New Zealand’s on point current affairs magazine and have a well-respected historian put forward his views on them.

With the comments of the three government institutions and the likes of the New Zealand Listener article, it appears that in 2016, the theories in respect of the Portuguese and Spanish discovering Australia and New Zealand are moving out of the shadows and into mainstream when discussing New Zealand’s European discovery history. As Wright writes in respect of history, this is not because of one reason or another, “mainstream historical theories by which we understand ourselves are not dictated from a central source. Historical understanding grows organically, from wide intellectual trends held across the field, in which New Zealand, usually, also reflects international thinking.”

And in this case study, the paradigm shift does exactly that and reflect international thinking – Spain and Portugal. I am also working on engaging with the relevant institution in Australia.

And so back to the debate – the interesting part.

Overall, once again, what a great article in a great magazine. There are always differences in opinion in historical debates, and Wright and I differ on four key points:

  • 1)    The Dieppe Maps;
  • 2)    The Juan Fernandez Spanish theory;
  • 3)    The San Lesmes Spanish theory; and
  • 4)    Where the Portuguese and Spanish theories should sit in Australian and New Zealand discovery theory.

The purpose in drawing these points to your attention, is to assist you in forming a view on the subject either way.

 1) The Dieppe Maps

The Dieppe Maps are the starting point of Iberian discovery theory and have been put forward as evidence of a Portuguese discovery of Australia and New Zealand for 228 years. These maps date to between 1542 and 1566 (over 100 years before Tasman) and I have written about them at length in Conquistador Puzzle Trail. A summary discussion of them can also be found in the below recent articles:

  • In my open letter to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage entitled: ‘Open letter to the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage re European discovery of New Zealand,’ dated October 2015. Click here.
  • In my article, ‘About that ‘rubbish’. Yeah Nah. The Portuguese or Spanish probably voyaged to New Zealand pre Tasman, dated May 2016. Click here.
  • In the recent article in the Northern Advocate, entitled: Conquistador Trail From Portugal to Pouto, dated August 2015. Click here.

Wright states in respect of the maps “Those maps also have to be understood in context of the belief – long held in Europe – that a great Terra Australis Incognita (unknown southern land) had to exist as a kind of global counterbalance to the land mass of Europe. Maps produced before and after the Dieppe ones speculated on likely coastlines. These fruits of cartographic imagination – sometimes decorated with curious graphics of men with faces in their stomachs and wild fantasy animals – bore little resemblance to reality; any similarity to coastlines found later was entirely coincidental.”

My issue with the statement is that it uses definitive language and directs the reader that they need to do something or think in a certain way – i.e. in this case interpret maps in a certain way. I would like to politely suggest that the reader compare those sixteenth century maps to the modern coastline of Australia and New Zealand, and be aware that in some places what the Portuguese names state on the map are descriptive of the very things that define those places geographically today. As an example of some of the 120 Portuguese place names that appear on the most detailed map (from 1547), at Fraser Island in Australia where there are pumice deposits, the word pomezita (pumice) is written; similarly where the word camronron appears, which means prawns, there is a modern day prawn fishery today. Where the Great Barrier Reef is: Costa Dangeroza – Dangerous Coast. The list goes on. The coastline of the continent is also similar to that of Australia and New Zealand – not in all places sure, but taken as a whole and to use Wright’s words the ‘context’ of cartography at the time (the context of which includes details on Jean Rotz who was considered a cartographer who never ventured into speculative cosmology) – on the basis of these maps alone, the serious and very tenable theory can be made, that the Portuguese discovered Australia and New Zealand.

As a footnote, I would like to point out that only one of the Dieppe Maps appeared in the article, and that wasn’t in the global terra incognita australis context (i.e. in the context of what was considered known of the globe at the time) that Wright suggests.

I include this context below.

 

Desliens Map 1566

Desliens Map 1566 (The global context)

Jean Rotz Circular Chart - 1542

Jean Rotz Circular Chart – 1542. The global context – Rotz was not known to deviate into speculative cosmography.

 

Jean Rotz Map 1542

Jean Rotz Map 1542

 

Vallard Map 1547 - the eastern coast of Australia with portolan realigned

Vallard Map 1547 – the eastern coast of Australia with portolan realigned

 

Vallard Map 1547 The North island of New Zealand?

Vallard Map 1547 The North island of New Zealand?

 

In summary on this point in the debate, we can agree to disagree on the relevance or otherwise of the maps to Australian and New Zealand discovery theory. We are only two – and in New Zealand there are over 4 million others that may sway the argument either way.

2) Juan Fernandez.

The second point I would like to raise in the debate is Wright’s statement in respect of the theory on Spanish voyaging to New Zealand pre-Tasman, particularly those around the Juan Fernandez (1576-78) theory. Writing on Spanish voyages to New Zealand, Wright writes:

There was no direct proof for any of this, but the concept was alluring enough for the Spanish Government, in the 1880s, to ascribe a 1576 “discovery” of New Zealand to Juan Fernandez, an explorer of colonial-era Peru and Chile.”

This statement is not true. There is no discussion in the literature in the 1880s of a Spanish voyage by Juan Fernandez to New Zealand. The theory wasn’t made until 1918 – nearly 40 years after this.  In respect of the Spanish government ‘ascribing a discovery’ because they were ‘allured to’, again there is no evidence at all of this – the theory was first made by a Chilean historian Jose Medina in 1918, in a little known book entitled: The navigator Juan Fernandez. When Medina’s theory did become more well known, the Spanish government embraced the theory, and indeed on the wall of the Madrid Naval Museum, is a wall mosaic celebrating Spanish exploratory voyages, and the route of Fernandez appears.

Conquistador Puzzle Trail provides further details.

3) The San Lesmes

The third point I would like to raise in the debate is Wright’s statement in respect of the fabled lost caravel the San Lesmes. For those interested in Pacific discovery history, please read the late Robert Langdon’s The Lost Caravel (1975) and The Lost Caravel Re-explored (1988) – a brilliant review of early Pacific voyaging and which contains Langdon’s San Lesmes theory.

Wright writes in respect of the San Lesmes:

The ship was never seen again and its fate remains unknown, but competing theories by Robert Langdon (1975) and Roger Herve (1983) postulate that the caravel blundered west, reaching either New Zealand or Australia before, perhaps, being wrecked on Amanu, an island in the Tuamotu archipelago.”

The issue with this statement is that neither Langdon or Herve state that the San Lesmes reached New Zealand or Australia before then being wrecked at Amanu in the Tuamotu archipelago.

Langdon’s theory is that the San Lesmes hit the reef at Amanu before voyaging to Tahiti then New Zealand, where he theorises it was wrecked at Kawhia, not at Amanu (which is in the middle of the Pacific).

Conquistador Puzzle Trail takes Langdon’s theory further discussing the possibility of the San Lesmes not being wrecked at Kawhia, but further north at Baylys Beach, Dargaville.

4) The conclusion as to where the Portuguese and Spanish theories should sit in Australian and New Zealand discovery theory.

After canvassing the Spanish and Portuguese theories, Wright comments in respect of the Spanish and Portuguese place in New Zealand discovery history:

“In the end the issue is academic. A proven pre-Tasman Iberian visit is unlikely to disturb our wider sense of place. History, as a way of understanding our human journey from past to present, is about wider trends. In that sense, even a demonstrable Spanish or Portuguese visit would be no more significant for our history than Tasman’s brush past our shores in 1642. That was the first time we can be sure that Europe found New Zealand. And that visit gave us our name – Nieuw Zeeland, probably chosen by Dutch cartographer Johannes Blaeu.

But the first significant European impact on Maori did not come until the arrival of British ne’er-do-wells, convicts, whalers, sealers and traders, broadly around the beginning of the 19th century. They brought the products of Britain’s industrial revolution – and the detritus of a British society in flux – into collision with traditional Maori life. So began a cascade of events that led to the colonisation of New Zealand by Britain – and, eventually, to New Zealand as it is today.

So even if records of a Portuguese or Spanish journey to our shores are found in dusty archives, or compelling archaeological evidence is discovered, this can only ever be a footnote – fascinating though it would be – to the well-established realities of our wider past.”

There are two statements here I would like to query. The first, in the first paragraph that “even a demonstrable Spanish or Portuguese visit would be no more significant to our history than Tasman’s brush past our shores in 1642.” The second, in the final paragraph “even if records of a Portuguese or Spanish journey to our shores are found in dusty archives, or compelling archaeological evidence is discovered, this can only ever be a footnote – fascinating though it would be – to the well-established realities of our wider past.”

I would like to contest the ‘significance’ comment  – which, as with the Dieppe Maps comments above, is written definitively. The comment basically says – even if the Spanish or Portuguese voyages occurred, they wouldn’t be significant.

Significance is different for individuals, localities, countries. If one of the theories was proven, on the contrary, it may be very significant to the Spanish and Portuguese governments – a source of pride – as I am sure Tasman’s voyage is to the Netherlands. Similarly, I also imagine that those hardy sailors who made those early maritime voyages, and who suffered scurvy, hunger and disease, would hope that they were more than a ‘footnote,’ in history.

On the significance of the theories, let’s see….It’s up to society to decide whether or not the theories are significant or otherwise.

So what’s next?

On the Portuguese and Spanish discovery question, there are more questions to be answered, more research to be explored more widely – there just needs to be the interest from society, students and teachers.

On this point, Dr Ross Ramsay, a lecturer at the Southern Institute of Technology, has taken the initiative and is seeking his student’s views on the subject.

Is there another history teacher in New Zealand or Australia who would like to review Conquistador Puzzle Trail and perhaps teach it as a unit of work in school or university? The first history teacher to get in touch and volunteer for the review, I will send you a free copy.

Finally, the myth that there is nothing to the theory in respect of the Portuguese and Spanish voyaging to Australia and New Zealand appears to be cracking.

Discussing these topics appears to be no longer ‘fringe.’

Did the Spanish and Portuguese voyage to New Zealand and Australia pre Tasman?

And if they did, what is the significance?

What is your view?

We can have a mainstream conversation.

Once again, thank you to the New Zealand Listener for being ever relevant and on point in publishing on this subject.

The debate continues.

Sincerely,

Winston Cowie

Wheelchairs, rugby and lemurs: The Arabian Gulf rugby community spreads goodwill in Seychelles and Madagascar.

Wheelchairs, rugby and lemurs: The Arabian Gulf rugby community spreads goodwill in Seychelles and Madagascar.

It was the morning of 26 June 2016, two day’s prior to the departure of the Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors goodwill rugby mission to Seychelles and Madagascar. The Middle East based team, with players from clubs in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, awakes to the news that there had been what was described as a terrorist attack at Mahamasina Stadium in Madagascar, killing two and wounding 80 people. The stadium was the very place where the Conquistadors were intending to play the Madagascar national side in a rugby match one week later.

To go or not to go – that was the question. We did a risk assessment – following the attack Madagascar was categorised as a ‘medium travel risk’ – the attack initially considered to be a ‘one-off’ associated with a national day rally. We asked the team – were they prepared to travel to Madagascar given the circumstances?

Two day’s later, and after monitoring the situation closely for any escalation, and after receiving assurances of increased security by the Madagascar Rugby Union, on the morning of the scheduled departure later that evening, 22 of the 24 person mission squad were ‘in.’

Excited and nervous we headed to Abu Dhabi Airport for the primary sponsor, Air Seychelles, flight to Madagascar via the Seychelles.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Seven months earlier the team had formed under the banner of their good mate, Mike Ballard, an American national from Michigan who suffered a serious spinal injury whilst playing for the Abu Dhabi Harlequins in the 2014 West Asian Club Championship final.

At the time and over the ensuing two years, the Arabian Gulf rugby community supported Mike, who that year was nominated for the prestigious UAE Player of the Year Award.  Now back on top his rehabilitation after two determined and inspiring years (he broke every rehabilitation record at the Mary Freebed Rehabilitation Hospital in Michigan), Mike has moved back to Abu Dhabi to live and work, taking up a place at his old school, the “New England Centre for Children with Autism”, where his teaching greatly inspired the Autistic children and their families.

The Conquistadors were set up initially to support Mike with his move back to Abu Dhabi – and Mike arrived the night before the Dubai 7s – making it back to lead the Conquistadors onto the pitch at the Dubai 7’s in December 2015.

Mike Ballard and the Conquistadors

Mike Ballard and the Conquistadors

 

Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors and the Lewsey brothers, Ed and Josh, at Dubai 7s 2015.

Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors and the Lewsey brothers, Ed and Josh, at Dubai 7s 2015.

With the success of the team at the Sevens where they reached the semi finals of one of the local leagues, Mike and the team took the initiative to embark on an annual ‘good will’ mission to have a positive impact on the lives of others, through rugby union.

Mike Ballard comments:

“The support of the rugby community was a major driving force in getting me through my darkest hour when I was injured in 2014, and we formed the Conquistadors team soon after so we could help out other rugby communities around the world. On top of being a good a chance for us to further the sport of rugby, this trip is also an opportunity to improve the lives of people who may have suffered a spinal injury or have mobility problems for other reasons.  I want to thank Air Seychelles for making this goodwill mission possible.”

And so it was that we were enroute to Seychelles, six months after the Seychelles and Madagascar vision.

Seychelles and the Air Seychelles Press Conference

After a very comfortable flight (the management team were grateful to fly business class much to the team’s chargin), we were greeted upon disembarking by no other than the Seychelles Minister of Health, the honourable Mitcy Larue, the CEO of Air Seychelles, Roy Kinnear, members of the Seychelles Rugby Union and others. A fantastic press conference ensued and the team donated 20 wheelchairs to Seychelles hospital.

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors with Government Officials

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors with Government Officials

The honourable Mitcy Larue, the Seychelles Minister of Health, commented:

“We are thrilled to receive this generous donation of wheelchairs, which will go a long way towards improving the quality of life for people with disabilities, the elderly and other patients with mobility problems in Seychelles. The fact that it is coupled with the promotion of sports, which are an essential component of healthy living, makes this initiative doubly positive.”

Roy Kinnear, CEO of Air Seychelles commented:

“Air Seychelles is extremely proud to support this goodwill mission, which will benefit many people with mobility and physical impairments in both Seychelles and Madagascar. In addition to providing much-needed medical equipment, this initiative will also contribute to the development of rugby in the Indian Ocean region. We’re happy that as the national airline we can play our part in increasing engagement in sports. What this tour also demonstrates is the significant contribution of our four-per-week Antananarivo service to the growth of people-to-people, government and cultural ties, between our island countries as well as other markets such as the UAE.”

I don’t think any of the gents who were part of the mission team had experienced anything like the conference at Seychelles Airport. “I feel like a rock star,” commented one of the younger members of the team, Charles Etchells, who is studying to be a doctor at Manchester University.

The photos sum up the wonderful experience.

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Press Conference

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Press Conference

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Press Conference - Seychelles Welcome

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Press Conference – Seychelles Welcome

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors - Press Conference Singalong

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors – Press Conference Singalong

And then it was onwards to Madagascar where we intended to donate 40 wheelchairs and medical equipment to the Aide Manjakasoa Madagascar rehabilitation facility, hold two day’s of rugby coaching with 300 U14 children from 7 clubs and 3 schools; and play the match v the Madagascar national side.

Madagascar

Madagascar. What a place. The third largest island in the world is a developing country where nine out of ten people live on less than two dollars a day. It is also a country where rugby is the national sport with over 48,000 participants, and the national team, ‘the Makis’, are ranked 41 in the world. Put simply, they are rugby mad! Madagascar has the third highest number of registered players in Africa but the majority of rugby playing children (90%) don’t have any uniforms.

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors in Antananarivo

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors in Antananarivo. Mahamasina Stadium where the attack was, is behind.

On the way from the airport to the hotel, the bus went silent. There were thousands of people, all busy, doing something, going somewhere, and they didn’t appear to have much. It was a sobering sight.

Despite not appearing to have much, the Madagascan people had a proud dignity about them – were not pushy and had a good sense of humour. When we started unpacking the gear from the bus on a busy street, rather than try and sell us a set of drums and vuvuzela, the vendors began playing for us – which afterwards resulted in a number of vuvuzela’s being purchased.

Over the ensuing days we:

  • Donated 40 wheelchairs and medical supplies to the Aide Manjakasoa Madagascar charity;
  • Held junior rugby coaching clinics and delivered junior rugby clothing, boots and gear, collected from rugby clubs and schools in the Arabian Gulf region, to rugby clubs in the Antananarivo region; and
  • Played an ‘exhibition match’ against the Madagascan Rugby Team, the Makis (the Malagasy name for the ‘ring-tailed lemur’), currently ranked at No.42 in the world.
Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors donate 40 wheelchairs and medical equipment to the Aide de Manjakasoa Charity, Madagascar

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors donate 40 wheelchairs and medical equipment to the Aide de Manjakasoa Charity, Madagascar

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Rugby Coaching Clinics, Day 1, 30 June 2016.

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Rugby Coaching Clinics, Day 1, 30 June 2016

The boots kindly donated by GoSports were a real hit!

The boots kindly donated by GoSports were a real hit! Children here are also wearing kindly donated Doha Rugby Football Club uniforms.

Highlights included:

  • Seeing the smiles and gratefulness on the children’s faces when they received new uniforms and boots.
The Dubai Hurricanes shirts kept popping up all over Antananarivo!

The Dubai Hurricanes shirts kept popping up all over Antananarivo! Both junior girl and boy rugby players had phenomenal skills!

Abu Dhabi Saracens were the first to donate a full set of junior kit.

Abu Dhabi Saracens were the first to donate a full set of junior kit

And the result in Madagascar - a full team kitted out in Abu Dhabi Saracens kit!

And the result in Madagascar – a full team kitted out in Abu Dhabi Saracens kit!

Bahrain RFC did a fantastic job of mobilising the community

Bahrain RFC did a fantastic job of mobilising the community

Bahrain RFC Kit was a real hit in Madagascar!

Bahrain RFC Kit was a real hit in Madagascar!

—Abu Dhabi Harlequins kit proved very popular, the team well coached by Guiness World Record Holder Tom Calnan

Abu Dhabi Harlequins kit proved very popular, the team well coached by Guiness World Record Holder Tom Calnan

The Dubai Hurricanes were incredibly generous, donating the most of any club!

The Dubai Hurricanes were incredibly generous, donating the most of any club!

Adam Telford, retiring UAE captain, was a fantastic asset to the mission, the Jebal Ali Dragons kit very popular

Adam Telford, retiring UAE captain, was a fantastic asset to the mission, the Jebal Ali Dragons kit also very popular!

British School of Al Khubairat Director of rugby sought to build a bridge between Antananarivo and Abu Dhabi, sharing penpal letters from Abu Dhabi.

British School of Al Khubairat Director of rugby sought to build a bridge between Antananarivo and Abu Dhabi, sharing penpal letters from Abu Dhabi.

  • Seeing how good the Madagascan juniors were at rugby – their skills, offloads, and physicality rivalled junior rugby growing up in New Zealand.
The Abu Dhabi Harlequins rugby kit was gratefully received.

The Abu Dhabi Harlequins rugby kit was gratefully received.

  • Practicing lineouts on the streets of Antananarivo, and then giving the balls to the children who scampered down the street with big grins passing and doing backline moves
Lineouts on the streets on Antananarivo, Madagascar

Lineouts on the streets on Antananarivo, Madagascar

These children took off down the street doing backline moves reminicent of the Otago Highlanders when we gave them a ball.

These children took off down the street doing backline moves reminicent of the Otago Highlanders when we gave them a ball

  • Unwrapping the wheelchairs at the Aide Aide Manjakasoa – logistically getting them there had been a mission in itself.
Unwrapping the wheelchairs at the Aide de Manjakasoa charity felt good especially after all of the hard work that went into getting them there, especially by our logistics guru Wade Quinn

Unwrapping the wheelchairs at the Aide de Manjakasoa charity felt good especially after all of the hard work that went into getting them there, especially by our logistics guru Wade Quinn

  • Playing a match against the Madagascan National side, when it looked very unlikely following the terrorist attack.
Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors V Madagascar

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors V Madagascar, 3 July 2016

 

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors V Madagascar

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors V Madagascar, 3 July 2016

 

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors v Madagascar

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors v Madagascar

  • It was wonderful to have seven of the clubs in the Gulf playing together side by side – Abu Dhabi Saracens, Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Bahrain RFC, Doha RFC, Dubai Hurricanes, Dubai Sharks, Jebal Ali Dragons, and British School of Al Khubairat –  a throwback to the Arabian Gulf days.

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors had representatives from eigh Arabian Gulf Clubs

We were lucky to play a match at all. Following the attack on the stadium, all public events were banned – understandably. Initially, months earlier, we were informed that the game was to attract over 30,000 people. After the event, however, we were informed that we could play, but with no crowd – it would have been too much of a security risk. We were disappointed of course – we all wanted to play in front of 30,000 people, but in the big picture, the objective of the mission was the charity work – and we still managed to complete that.

Finding a stadium also proved to be a mission – with the Mahamasina Stadium out of action, and the ‘Makis Stadium’ hard as a rock and with a number of sizeable holes in it, a ‘SWOT’ team of Tom Calnan, Edward Lewsey and Winston Cowie went on a mission to view other options. We didn’t have to go far – a 20 minute walk from the Hotel was the Stade Malacan, replete with lush, springy grass, and a resident bull.

20160701_105841_003

We managed to find a stadium

We managed to find a stadium, with its own hazards!

We had a venue.

On the match, there were strong performances from centres Stephen Hamilton (Abu Dhabi Saracens), Adam Wallace (Bahrain RFC), half back Ed Lewsey (Abu Dhabi Harlequins), and in the forwards Harry Seward and Graham Murphy (Abu Dhabi Harlequins). Tries were scored by centre Adam Wallace (Bahrain RFC), Winston Cowie (Abu Dhabi Saracens), Ed Lewsey (Abu Dhabi Harlequins), and Harry Seward (Abu Dhabi Harlequins).

Sam Wilson (Bahrain RFC) was named co-captain for the match with Adam Telford (Jebal Ali Dragons) – both have contributed a huge amount to Arabian Gulf rugby – and both were playing their last big matches. Adam, unfortunately had to fly back to Abu Dhabi as the match was postponed to find a suitable ground – so it was Sam Wilson who captained the side.

Sam Wilson, Bahrain RFC, was chosen as co-captain in his last match in the Arabian Gulf, bringing to a close a stellar 10 year contribution to Bahrain and Gulf rugby

Sam Wilson, Bahrain RFC, was chosen as co-captain in his last match in the Arabian Gulf, bringing to a close a stellar 10 year contribution to Bahrain and Gulf rugby

“It was a real honour to captain an Arabian Gulf side in my last match here – for me, having played against many of the guys from the clubs, in addition to having the national teams – the likes of the UAE and Qatar, its also awesome to have an Arabian Gulf side to do something charitable, play some rugby, and get to know those guys from the other clubs. It will be really good in the next year for all of these guys to now know each other when they play against each other. It’s an amazing rugby region – I’ve enjoyed my time here, and yeah, a real honour to play footy with these guys.”

The final score was 55-26 to Madagascar, the Conquistadors winning the second half 26-19.

Newspaper coverage – The National – Paul Radley

The goodwill mission was expertly covered by experienced journalist, The National newspaper’s Paul Radley.

Paul completed the below articles, and the following video which gives a real indication of the Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Goodwill Mission 2016.

Videos

Team Dubai Sports City Training Camp Video. Click here.

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Seychelles and Madagascar Goodwill Mission Video. Click here.

Newspaper Articles

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Rugby Mission to go ahead despite security concerns

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Rugby Mission to go ahead despite security concerns

Mike Ballard

Mike Ballard

GoSports kind donation of rugby boots were gratefully received

GoSports kind donation of rugby boots were gratefully received

Finding an alternative pitch had its own hazards

Finding an alternative pitch had its own hazards

Practising the haka with the local children

Practising the haka with the local children

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors and the Madagascar National team

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors and the Madagascar National team

Sponsors

A massive massive thank you to all of the Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors sponsors who made this goodwill mission possible. We simply could not have done it without your kindness and generosity!

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation

Hill International Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors

Mcgettigens Mike Ballard Conquistadors

Kukri Mike Ballard Conquistadors

GoSport QBJ ok

Live Nation Middle East

Model

ALEC logo

King&Wood Mallesons

 

Malagasy Rugby

A massive thank you to Malagasy Rugby for hosting us and showing us around Madagascar – what an incredible country!

madagascar rugby union

Who could forget our boat trip across a lake full with crocodiles? And those lemurs….

Watch out for crocodiles.

Watch out for crocodiles.

 

20160705_091943 20160705_092639

 

Many thanks to all sponsors, Malagasy rugby and the Arabian Gulf rugby community.

We all feel incredibly grateful to be a part of such a wonderful rugby community – the Arabian Gulf. Together we have achieved something pretty special.

Until next year.

There are plans in the pipeline…..#onwards

Winston Cowie

About that ‘rubbish’. Yeah Nah. The Portuguese or Spanish probably voyaged to New Zealand pre Tasman.

It’s rubbish. Absolute rubbish. No way did the Portuguese or Spanish voyage to New Zealand pre Abel Tasman.

Rubbish? Really?

The theory that the Portuguese and / or Spanish voyaged to New Zealand pre-Tasman is considered a possibility (and in some cases a probability) by three different government organisations in three different countries – Spain, Portugal and New Zealand.

New Zealand:

New Zealand’s venerable and forward thinking national encyclopedia, Te Ara, have a high threshold for making changes to the encylopedia and seek to avoid the inclusion of content that is speculative or highly contentious. Ministry for Culture and Heritage chief historian Neill Atkinson recently stated: “after considering Winston Cowie’s recently published research, we felt that small changes to the text would improve the European discovery entry.”

The Ministry also stated:

“Te Ara has raised the possibility of Spanish or Portuguese encounters for the last 10 years, and as far as I know that hasn’t been used by people that we might label conspiracy theorists to make any outrageous claims.”

Te Ara’s position is that they consider Portuguese or Spanish voyages to New Zealand a possibility, with no firm evidence, yet….

The Spanish:

 “Well-structured and impeccably researched, this important work [Conquistador Puzzle Trail] will have a strong impact on the academic representation of conquistadors as well as a wide array of consequences for the future understanding of New Zealand history. We feel incredibly fortunate to witness such a thorough investigation into the history of New Zealand in which we can really appreciate the links shared with Portuguese and Spanish explorers. In our case, the confirmation of these ties between Spain and New Zealand will undoubtedly strengthen the positive relationship that our two countries already share and cherish. At the same time, we would like to acknowledge all of the time and energy devoted to the research that has gone into this investigative work. Throughout the pages, we discover new elements of New Zealand culture and history that invite us to truly believe that Mr Winston Cowie´s theory is correct. Congratulations on the completion of this excellent work.”

Pablo Mateu García, Educational Advisor of the Embassy of Spain, New Zealand.

The Portuguese:

 “A fascinating book and an important contribution for the investigation about the Portuguese having been the first Europeans to reach Australia and New Zealand almost 500 years ago.”

Paulo Cunha Alves, Ambassador of Portugal to Australia and New Zealand.

………………………………..

Both the Spanish and Portuguese embassies to Australia and New Zealand also kindly gave permission for their logos to be included on Conquistador Puzzle Trail as a sign of the cooperation and collaboration shared whilst researching. I am incredibly grateful to both entities for their ongoing support of my research on this important genre.

Conquistador Puzzle Trail - Back Cover Reviews

Conquistador Puzzle Trail – Back Cover Reviews

Case study – ‘About that rubbish’ – ‘New claims that Portuguese and Spanish explorers discovered NZ rubbished’

So, ‘about that rubbish.’ I query whether the person who made that analogy in the recent media article of 10 May 2016 was on top of the detail on this genre – to ‘rubbish’ a theory considered a possibility by three different government organisations in three different countries is a brave move. Was that view informed?

This is a perfect case study for how this conversation has played out over the past 30 years. The conversation begins with a claim in respect of the Portuguese or Spanish discovering New Zealand or Australia followed by that claim being ‘rubbished’ by a New Zealand or Australian history academic. And this is exactly how this played out on 10 May 2016. Please click here for the article if interested.

Let’s consider this rubbish with a wider lens – a historical lens. For 228 years some of the top historians and cartographers of their day have supported the Portuguese and Spanish theories. I am not sure what gives the likes of the opinion of the historian in this case study, Paul Moon, credence over those learned historians. His view isn’t that of the likes of the informed, late Dr Helen Wallis – the president of every cartography organisation imaginable – and who considered an early Iberian discovery to Australia a probability – nor is it that of the British Admiralty in the early 19th century who also considered that the Portuguese probably discovered New Zealand. 

And I am not the first New Zealander to explore (excuse the pun) the theory. In 1894, over 120 years ago, two of New Zealand’s most gifted historians, Dr Thomas Hocken and Dr Robert McNab, theorised that further research might reveal that the true story of the discovery of New Zealand had yet to be told, writing:

“Doubtless before Tasman, there were voyagers who had visited New Zealand … We are justified in thinking that there are buried in the old archives of Portugal and of Spain journals which, if found, would give an earlier account of New Zealand than those which we consider our earliest … The iron-bound chests of Portugal and of Spain are the probable repositories of these treasures, or they may have been emptied into the Papal and monkish libraries … and may lie covered with the accumulated dust of centuries.”

What the likes of Wallis, the British Admiralty, and Hocken and McNab’s views tell you, and they are just examples, is that across multiple generations people have reviewed some of the evidence of Portuguese or Spanish exploration to New Zealand and Australia – the likes of the sixteenth century Dieppe Maps – and seen the same thing and drawn the same conclusion – that being that the Portuguese probably discovered Australia and New Zealand, and the Spanish may have also voyaged to New Zealand pre-Tasman.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Australians’ Kenneth McIntyre, Robert Langdon, and, more recently, Peter Trickett have had similar views.

I include some of the sixteenth century Dieppe Maps below for your assessment.

Desliens Map 1566

Desliens Map 1566

 

Jean Rotz Map 1542

Jean Rotz Map 1542

 

Vallard Map 1547 - the eastern coast of Australia

Vallard Map 1547 – with portolan realigned –  the eastern coast of Australia?

 

Vallard Map 1547 The North island of New Zealand?

Vallard Map 1547. The North island of New Zealand?

In the place of modern-day Australia there is a landmass called Big Java, and similarly, in the place of New Zealand – an island called Illa do magna.

These maps date to between 1542 and 1566 (over 100 years before Tasman); and the most detailed map (from 1547) includes over 120 Portuguese place names which are descriptive of physical features, features which are in those very places today. As an example, at Fraser Island in Australia where there are pumice deposits, the word pomezita (pumice) is written; similarly where the word camronron appears, which means prawns, there is a modern day prawn fishery today. Where the Great Barrier Reef is: Costa Dangeroza – Dangerous Coast. The list goes on. The coastline of the continent is also similar to that of Australia and New Zealand. On the basis of these maps of the sixteenth century Dieppe school of cartographers, and a number of other artefacts within Australia and New Zealand, with all due respect to the person who ‘rubbished’ these theories, on the contrary, the serious and very tenable theory can be made, that the Portuguese discovered Australia and New Zealand.

I ask: Would a 16th-century cartographer make up the coastlines and creatively name more than 120 places? And if they did, isn’t it too much of a coincidence they guessed what the coastline may look like and knew that pumice and prawns and the Great Barrier Reef were in the exact place they imagined?

If interested, for more detail, please read the recent article in the Northern Advocate, entitled: Conquistador Trail From Portugal to Pouto. Click here.

For additional detail, please read my original open letter to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. Click here.

For all the detail, have a read of Conquistador Puzzle Trail, assess each puzzle piece on its own merit and form your own view. I think you’ll be as surprised as I was….

It is available at all good independent bookstores and Paper Plus Stores. For those based overseas, please contact Susan Holmes at Bookreps.

…………………………………………..

Back to our media case study. After nearly 200 years of some of the top historians and cartographers taking the theory seriously, around 30 years ago something changed and it is difficult to put a finger on what that was in historical circles. It is a shame that there seems to have been a generation of historians (some – I am not saying all) in New Zealand and Australia who have largely ignored what is a fascinating area of research, the ramifications being that we most probably have our discovery history wrong. Apart from the likes of Langdon, McIntyre and Trickett, many historians have taken the ‘safe option,’ either ‘rubbishing’ the Iberian theories of this triumvirate, or ignoring them completely. I think fear of being criticised is probably the answer.

Thankfully, society is changing – people are information and knowledge hungry – they want to know the arguments for and against a topic and make up their own mind – as opposed to not having the discussion at all because of fear of being criticised.

On this point, in the case of Conquistador Puzzle Trail, I have asked people’s views, put mine forward – for what is worth – and without fear of criticism. How on earth could one be fearful of criticism when all they are doing is putting information in front of people and asking them to make up their own mind? I’ll stand up and be counted on this one.

Looking ahead, my challenge to New Zealand and Australia, is to forget about the negative stigma that for whatever reason has been associated with the Iberian theory, especially for the past 30 years, and take the time to digest what the Conquistador Puzzle means for New Zealand and Australia. Assess each puzzle piece on its merit and come up with your own conclusions.

And my conclusion, as yours may be, is that the Portuguese nobleman Christopher Mendonça most likely and on the balance of probabilities discovered New Zealand and Australia circa 1520-24. And the Spanish captain Juan Fernandez may have voyaged to New Zealand in 1576-78.

What happens next in this case study?

Historically, if the past 30 years is anything to go by, nothing usually. The Portuguese or Spanish claim is made. It is rubbished. And so the cycle goes on. It’s rubbish, rubbish and rubbish. Don’t talk about it. Don’t discuss it. It’s rubbish.

Yeah, Nah.

The good thing about the present is that it’s in our hands and we don’t have to go down the same route that has been played out time and again over the past 30 years.

My feeling is that this time, this case study is different.

Anyone can make a theory on anything. The theory then sits in the public domain to be assessed and debated. If the majority believe that the theory is true, then it stands the test of time, until new material comes to light either proving it or disproving it. Shouldn’t that be how our history is considered – as a dynamic evolution of ideas? History is, after all, only the bits we know.

On the Portuguese and Spanish discovery question, there is a real opportunity for it to be explored more widely – there just needs to be the interest from society, students and teachers.

In this respect, I have been in contact with the Head of the New Zealand History Teachers Association, Mr Graeme Ball. Like Te Ara, the Association have been open and transparent and professional with their communication, also posting information on Conquistador Puzzle Trail on their website. A history teacher is also currently being sought to review Conquistador Puzzle Trail but to date there have been no volunteers….

A fun challenge: Is there a history teacher in New Zealand or Australia who would like to review Conquistador Puzzle Trail and assess its suitability for teaching in schools?

The first history teacher to get in touch and volunteer for the review, I will send you a free copy.

Looking ahead, at this end, I’ll review the updated text in Te Ara in the Portuguese and Spanish section and with good intentions, try and add some value and additional knowledge.

And ‘About that rubbish.’

Perhaps making the ‘rubbish’ call in respect of the Portuguese or Spanish voyages is now the new ‘rubbish call’.

But that is up to you and what your view is. What is it by the way?

It is your view that is the most important in this korero.

 

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors name experienced team to travel to Madagascar for goodwill mission

Manager Mike Ballard and coaches Winston Cowie and Ed Lewsey are pleased to announce a very experienced rugby team to travel to Madagascar in July to play the Madagascan national side, the Makis, as part of a goodwill mission.

The Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors and the Madagascan Makis, who are ranked No.41 in the world, will play an exhibition match at the Madagascan National Stadium on Sunday 3 July 2016, following a Junior 7s rugby curtain-raising tournament.

The mission includes donating wheelchairs to charities in the Seychelles and Madagascar, and also donating junior rugby clothing and boots and coaching junior rugby in Madagascar.

Team naming:

The Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors team, to play Madagascar, includes:

 Forwards

Graham Murphy (UAE International, Abu Dhabi Harlequins).

Tom Nolan (Qatar International, Doha RFC).

Chris Jones Griffiths (UAE International, Abu Dhabi Harlequins).

Harry Seward (Abu Dhabi Harlequins).

Adam Telford (UAE International, Jebal Ali Dragons).

Aaron Palmer (Qatar International, Manawatu NPC, Doha RFC).

Conor Coakley (Dubai Hurricanes).

Brendan Rawlings (Exeter Chiefs, Dubai Hurricanes).

Winston Cowie (Oxford University Blue, Doha RFC).

Wade Quinn (Qatar International, Bahrain RFC).

Jamie Clarke (UAE International, Doha RFC).

Stephen Ferguson (Dubai Exiles).

Backs

Ed Lewsey (UAE International, Exeter Chiefs, Abu Dhabi Harlequins).

Luke Stevenson (Abu Dhabi Harlequins).

Sam Priest (Doha RFC).

Sam Wilson (Bahrain RFC).

Adam Wallace (Bahrain RFC).

Sean Carey (Dubai Hurricanes).

Steve Hamilton (England Counties, Abu Dhabi Saracens).

Mike Pugliese (Abu Dhabi Saracens).

Tom Calnan (UAE Rugby and Rugby League International, Abu Dhabi Harlequins).

Caleb Anderson (Dubai Sharks).

Manager

Mike Ballard (Abu Dhabi Harlequins).

Charles Etchells (Medic, Manchester University).

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors 2016

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Team Details

The team consists of players from three of the Arabian Gulf countries – Bahrain, UAE, and Qatar.

Players have been selected from eight of the Arabian Gulf Clubs – Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Abu Dhabi Saracens, Bahrain RFC, Doha RFC, Dubai Exiles, Dubai Hurricanes, Dubai Sharks, and Jebal Ali Dragons.

Seven are from the Abu Dhabi Harlequins (Mike Ballard’s Club); five from Doha RFC; three each Bahrain RFC and the Dubai Hurricanes; two from Abu Dhabi Saracens, and one each from Dubai Exiles, Dubai Sharks, and Jebal Ali Dragons.

The team boasts 9 internationals including the two most capped UAE players of all time – props Chris Jones-Griffiths and Graham Murphy.

It consists of two former UAE Player of the Year nominees –Mike Ballard and Stephen Ferguson (who  was voted the UAE Premiership player of the year for the championship winning Dubai Exiles in 2016); and two former Exeter Chiefs professional players – No.9 Ed Lewsey and rampaging loose forward, Brendan Rawlings.

Eight squad members have captained their club sides – Aaron Palmer, Winston Cowie, Jamie Clarke (Doha RFC); Ed Lewsey (Abu Dhabi Harlequins); Adam Wallace and Sam Wilson (Bahrain RFC); Conor Coakley (Dubai Hurricanes); and Steve Hamilton (Abu Dhabi Saracens).

The playing team includes four coaches – Winston Cowie (former Keble College (Oxford University), Abu Dhabi Harlequins Assistant and Conquistadors Coach); Ed Lewsey (Abu Dhabi Harlequins Assistant, British School of Al Khubairat and Conquistadors); Aaron Palmer (Doha RFC and Qatar National Team Coach); and Steve Hamilton (Abu Dhabi Saracens Coach).

Both Palmer and Cowie, who played together at Doha between 2008 and 2012, have won the Arabian Gulf Premiership coaching clubs since – Cowie with the Abu Dhabi Harlequins in 2014 (unbeaten) and Palmer with Doha RFC in 2015, with Palmer also winning the West Asian Club Championship with Doha in 2012 and the inaugural Champion’s League this year. Palmer, a former Manawatu NPC player, is also the Qatar international side coach having won an impressive eight out of nine internationals with the side, including recently the West Asia Division III Championship.

The Conquistadors have players with rugby pedigree across the park.

The forward pack is gnarled with experience. Up front there is experience galore with over 50 tests for the UAE between Chris Jones-Griffiths and Graham Murphy; and the recently capped Tom Nolan (Doha RFC), who impressively debuted for Qatar with a meat pie; locks including the experienced Aaron Palmer (Manawatu NPC, Doha RFC and Qatar player / coach), Adam Telford (current UAE international hailing from the Jebal Ali Dragons); Conor Coakley (former Doha RFC and Dubai Hurricanes stalwart); and a powerful mix of loose forwards including former Exeter Chiefs pro and now fitness instructor with B2B, Brendan Rawlings, Jamie Clarke (current Doha RFC captain and former UAE international); Wade Quinn (North Queensland’s favourite son, an integral member of the Bahrain RFC pack); and Stephen Ferguson (the UAE premiership’s player of the season. Winston Cowie (Doha RFC top forward try scorer record holder (37 tries in 42 matches), moves back up to a hooking role where he played two Varsity Matches for Oxford University.

The backline is also looking rather sharp, with the inside halve pairing from Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Ed Lewsey and Luke Stevenson; midfielders including the exceptional Stephen Hamilton (former England Counties and current Abu Dhabi Saracens coach) and the big and bludgeoning Adam Wallace (Bahrain RFC); and a back three that includes Bahrain stalwart, and former North Harbour age grade representative, Sam Wilson, Conquistadors top points scorer, Sean Carey; Tom Calnan (the eldest dual rugby and rugby league international); Sam Priest (Doha RFC, Oxford University and Canterbury age grade); former Bahrain RFC and now Dubai Sharks, Caleb Anderson, and the solid and sharp Mike Pugliese (Abu Dhabi Saracens).

With an experienced group of players and coaches, the Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors are already strategizing how best to play the Makis at their intimidating national stadium; how to face their haka; and all in front of a projected home crowd of 35,000 people. It will be fast, furious, and an exciting match. Rugby will be the winner.

Of special note, Guinness Book of Records World Record Holder, Tom Calnan, the eldest dual international to debut in both rugby union and rugby league, will be coming out of retirement for the match.

Madagascar National Rugby Team – The ‘Makis’

Madagascar are currently preparing to play in the 2016 Africa Cup, Division 1B, Group B. In summary, African Cup, Division 1B consists of two groups:

Group A: 3 teams: Tunisia (No. 40), Ivory Coast (No.51) & Botswana (No.63).

Group B: 3 teams: Madagascar (No. 41), Senegal (No.49) & Zambia (No. 81).

The winners of groups A and B will play the Cup final on 16th July. The winner of the Cup final will gain promotion to Division 1A, the Top 4 of African nations, for 2017. The objective of the Madagascar Makis is to win the Africa Cup, Division 1B, and be promoted to Division 1A. Being part of Division 1A will allow the Makis the opportunity to participate in the qualification tournament for the 2019 RWC in Japan.

The match between the Madagascar Makis and the Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors will be perfect preparation for the Makis as they attempt to win the African Cup, Division 1B.

madagascar rugby union

Please get involved!

If you are a school or a club member and want to get involved, please contact the most relevant of our Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors to you.  We would be grateful for your donated junior kit, or for seniors, any rugby kit and boots you no longer need – boots are in a shortage of supply in the Madagascan men’s senior matches. Every bit helps!

Club focal points are as follows:

  • Abu Dhabi Harlequins:

o   Graham Murphy. grmurphy@tcd.iev

o   Edward Lewsey: ELewsey@britishschool.sch.ae

  • Abu Dhabi Saracens:

o   Steve Hamilton. stephen@adsjuniors.com

  • Bahrain:

o   Sam Wilson. samwilson1@live.co.uk

  • Doha:

o   Aaron Palmer: aaron.palmer@aspire.qa

  • Dubai Hurricanes:

o   Andrew Powell: andrew.powell@tpmena.com

  • Jebal Ali Dragons:

o   Andrew Carpin: Andrew.carphin@alshaya.com

  • Dubai Exiles:

o   Kristian Stinson: Kristian@studioem.net

  • Dubai Sharks:

o   Caleb Anderson: calebanderson10@gmail.com

  General Queries and Media

For general “good will mission” enquiries or media queries, please contact Winston Cowie: winston@winstoncowie.com

Many thanks to our sponsors!

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation

Mcgettigens Mike Ballard Conquistadors

Hill International Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors

Kukri Mike Ballard Conquistadors

ALEC logoLive Nation Middle East

Model

GoSport QBJ ok

 

We will keep you posted as the rugby gear comes in from clubs and schools.

13 days to go.

Onwards!

 

Ghosts from the past. The release of Flames Flicker by Winston Cowie on Amazon Kindle.

King Tāwhiao, Rewi Maniapoto, Titokowaru, Wiremu Tamihana, Te Kooti, Prime Minister Harry Atkinson, Governor George Grey, Captain John Roberts,                        Ranger Gustavus Von Tempsky,  and Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas McDonnell.

Ghosts from the past.

Flames Flicker by Winston CowieThey should all be household names in New Zealand.

Sadly they are not. Today, the majority of people, New Zealanders and those abroad, don’t know who these important New Zealanders were, or what the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s were about.

I was in the same boat (until I started writing Flames Flicker on a boat – back in 2006). Like the majority of you, I wasn’t taught the New Zealand Land Wars at school – history was restricted to learning about Tudor-Stewart England and the Treaty of Waitangi.

We have forgotten from whence we came.

Did you know that the warrior-priest, Te Kooti, exiled to the Chatham Islands on suspicion of being a spy, mutinied a supply ship, sailed it back to Poverty Bay, and began the East Cape Uprising? Did you know that simultaneously, on the west coast, Chief Titokowaru and the Ngā Ruahine and Ngāti Ruanui defeated British forces for a second time at Te Ngutu o te Manu in southern Taranaki? British forces were stretched. After successive defeats on both coasts and with few soldiers, after most of the 10,000 strong Imperial force that had been lured to New Zealand by the wily politician George Grey had been recalled to other parts of the Empire, New Zealand was ripe for the taking.

King Tāwhiao and the Waikato Māori held the balance of power. Which of his chiefs would King Tāwhiao listen to? Would the Rewi Maniapoto faction, thirsty for war, win over the support of the King, or would he be swayed by the Christian values extolled by Wiremu Tamihana?

We should all know the answer to these questions, straight off the bat – and in doing so acknowledge and celebrate the lives of the 3000 that died during the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s. Ordinary people. Extraordinary New Zealanders. All of them fighting, over 150 years ago now, for what they believed was best for New Zealand.

In this year, 2016, the year of the 152nd anniversary of the end of the Waikato War, my New Zealand Land Wars historical fictions series is dedicated to the memory of these New Zealanders – all of those courageous men and women, both Māori and Pākehā, who helped shape New Zealand in the 1860s.

Reflect on the cover of Flames Flicker, above –  which has been launched as an ebook today. It’s a special cover – get to know these New Zealanders from the past that shaped New Zealand’s history.

The release of Flames Flicker by Winston Cowie.

Just over one year after the successful release of the ebook Greenstone Trail, the first book in the New Zealand Land Wars series (click here), Flames Flicker continues the adventures of Jack O’ Malley and Whero Pouākai as they find themselves thrown into war once again.

But it’s not just any war. The future of New Zealand is at stake.

King Tāwhiao and the Waikato tribes sit in the way of British settlement.

Chief Titokowaru leads an uprising amongst the Taranaki tribes in the west.

The warrior priest,Te Kooti, swoops from the east.

King Tāwiao and the Waikato tribes hold the balance of power.

Jack, with the help of the legendary Gustavus von Tempsky fights to quell the Māori rebellions at all costs.

But Whero Pouākai has other ideas. He has an oath to fulfil to Papatūānuku.

Purchase an ebook copy of Flames Flicker

To booklovers in New Zealand, you can purchase one of the few original hard copies of ‘A Flame Flickers in the Darkness,’ from which the ‘Greenstone Trail’ and ‘Flames Flicker’ ebooks are based, via Fishpond by clicking here.  Great for an Autumn read indoors or on the patio.

A note, you have to be in New Zealand to order a hard copy.

To purchase Flames Flicker on Amazon Kindle, click here.

You can also read it on the iphone or ipad by downloading the Kindle Reader App for free.

Praise for Flames Flicker and the New Zealand Land Wars historical fiction series

The two special reviews below are written by descendants of two of those New Zealanders on the cover of Flames Flicker, that helped shape New Zealand in the 1860s.

“A soul-changing history ignited. A destined shared-future determined. We will not die. E Kore tatou e Mate! This book is part of a destiny foundation legacy, which was foreseen prolifically by old world priests, visionary chiefs, and Māori tribes widely. I was overcome with liberated emotion …. The reader will walk the journey in their skin regardless of ethnicity.”
Kuia Te Rau Oriwa Davis. Ngaruahine. A Grandchild of Chief Titokowaru.

“Winston Cowie is New Zealand’s answer to Wilbur Smith! As the great-great grandson of the one the book’s main characters, I took immense pleasure in seeing New Zealand’s history come to life in A Flame Flickers in the Darkness (now ebooks Greenstone Trail and Flames Flicker). The power and mystique of the indigenous peoples battling the settlers’ rugged determination for a better life. These were men and women of their time, and Winston Cowie captured the period perfectly. The story of the New Zealand Wars is a story worth telling, especially when told as a cracking yarn! My great-great grandfather, John Roberts, a recipient of the New Zealand Cross for his actions in Taranaki, would be proud.” Sam Priest. A Great-Great Grandchild of Captain John Roberts. 

After reading these reviews, I sat back and considered them and ‘Flames Flicker’. It’s time for a change, I thought. At the very least the New Zealand Land Wars should be mandatory learning in New Zealand schools. I had to ask the question – are we ashamed of our history? Do we not want to acknowledge further the lives of the 3000 that died? Ordinary people. Extraordinary New Zealanders.

May 2016 Update –  In May 2016, I had an opinion piece published in the Northern Advocate, entitled ‘Where’s the mana’, which asked these very questions.

'Where's the mana?' by Wisnton Cowie. Northern Advocate. May 2016.

‘Where’s the mana?’ by Winston Cowie. Northern Advocate. May 2016.

The summary is – you would be proud to read and learn about these New Zealanders, of their courage and determination, of their mana and selflessness.

I researched them and wrote about them, and got to know them through writing about them. They deserve better recognition than what they have received to date. The likes of Titokowaru, Rewi Maniapoto and Gustavus Von Tempsky should receive posthumous recognition for their courage during the wars.

We shouldn’t be ashamed of our history. The glass is half full. We should be proud that New Zealand has come through this period of conflict with mana. We should celebrate these people that lived, and showed courage and be proud of successive governments who have honoured the Treaty of Waitangi Act, which has given redress for past injustices.

Unlike many other nations, New Zealand has stepped up, and with the support of most of the population.

Have a read. Learn about New Zealand’s forgotten history and be informed of contemporary issues that arise from it. I would challenge that the likes of King Tawhiao, Governor George Grey, Rewi Maniapoto, Wiremu Tamihana, Te Kooti, Wiremu Kingi, Prime Minister Harry Atkinson, Ranger Gustavus von Tempsky, and Colonel Thomas McDonnell are worthy of a place in your consciousness.

And as an afterthought, perhaps Sir Peter Jackson is interested. It would be incredible to see his interpretation of the forging of New Zealand as a nation on the big screen. Scripts have been written (e.g Flames Flicker: The Battle for New Zealand). :)

It’s time to bring the mana back to this forgotten period in New Zealand history.

That’s my view for what its worth.
Te hei mauri ora.

Winnie

Winston Cowie

New Zealand Author