Thus the Maori Social and Economic Advancement act was passed in 1945. Outwardly this Bill is much like the earlier one; it confers a limited measure of self-government upon organised Maori communities. However, there is a great difference between the Maori councils and the committees which are now given statutory powers.
First of all the tribal executive is no longer primarily a local body, like the councils, it is no more than an administrative unit, instituted for the sake of convenience. Many of the tribal committees, in towns and cities, are also mainly administrative, as Pakeha and Maori have intermingled to such an extent that many Maoris no longer live in the Maori villages. This means that the broader aspects of social and economic advancement are likely to interest a tribal committee, or executive, more than they did a Maori Council, which was primarily concerned with local body problems.
The most important advance in the new Act is, of course, that subsidies are now granted and travelling expenses of members
50 Years of Maori Self Government
paid for. The amount of subsidies paid out has risen steeply the last few years; this year £65,000 was allowed for this purpose in the Estimates. If the availability of this subsidy money leads to the collecting of another £65,000 from Maori sources for marae and other amenities, a considerable rate of development is possible which was not possible before.
The problem of seeing that the tribal executive by-laws are observed is a difficult one which is only beginning to be tackled. The greater confidence of the Maori of today should be an advantage in solving this problem, but nothing effective can be done until legally correct by-laws are drawn up. Free assistance in this task is available from the Maori Affairs Department.
Another danger to the tribal organisation might lie in the continuing individualisation of the Maori, and the breakdown in the communal way of living. However, it seems at present that a large percentage of the Maoris who have entirely taken up the pakeha way of life are still anxious to take part in the life of the tribal committees. There is no reason to think that this will change in the near future. It may be more correct to say that the old communal spirit, still existent in the Maori Councils period which was mainly based on living together in the same village, is gradually disappearing, but that a new, and equally important, communal spirit has sprung up in the Tribal Committees. What brings the Maoris together now is a unity of destiny. They are the same race, have the same ancestry, and they have the same problems in a Pakeha world. When they live interspersed among the Pakehas in a town or city, they still have a need to form a close community. When they live in a Maori village, the old community spirit still survives to a good extent. The Tribal Committee life, like everything else, is at present in a state of rapid transition.