As in, they were so primitive and backward until the wonderful Europeans came along with their advanced civilisation. That is indeed gibbering nonsense.
I'm really not convinced that it's such nonsense. Consider pre-colonial Ngapuhi's own description of themselves as a people in 1831 when they were petitioning the British Crown to come to NZ and protect them.
We are a people without possessions.
We have nothing but timber, flax, pork and potatoes
Acknowledged - the use of "stone aged" to describe a level of advancement of a civilisation instead of a time in history is technically incorrect. But this is an account of a group of people who have immediately grasped that there is a significant gap between themselves and their visitors. (Both the British, as well as French and others)