OUR READERS SAY
TRIBUTE FROM MAORI AUTHOR
My son, who attended the ceremonies at Tikitiki, brought me a copy of Te Ao Hou. I had been expecting its appearance for some time and now it has come. I glanced through it and for an initial number it is creditable. Reading matter is one of the great needs of the Maori people, and I am sure Te Ao Hou will help to fill up the void in Maori life. I enjoyed reading the account of the conference of the Welfare League. The League is taking to some extent the place of the defunct Young Maori Party. On the East Coast the Mothers' Institute has held sway for years, and I doubt whether they will change.
Thank you for the mention of my books and the complimentary things you said about them. The books are very popular. One educated girl said to me, ‘Thank you for the Proverbs. Do you know I never knew one of them before I read your books.’ I am enclosing my annual subscription, and I am sorry I am unable to send more.
R. T. Kohere.
ORIGIN OF THE MAORI
Quite enjoyed your first issue of Te Ao Hou. Please find enclosed 10s. subscription. I have been studying genealogy for five years now, and I am survey officer of the Mahia Genealogical Association.
We not only survey local, that is to say New Zealand, genealogies, but also genealogies of different people that may have in some way connections with our Maori people. In my survey work I have come to the conclusion that the Maori people are definitely connected with two brothers of the house of Israel, or descendants of Jacob. The two brothers are Ephraim and Manassah, sons of Joseph and Judah.
In the year 600 B.C. Amam Ku and his four sons, of whom Amam Kalam was one, left Kapa Kapa-na-Kane—that is, Jerusalem—and travelled overland till they reached the borders of India. From here they made a boat, and Amam Ku sailed with his family. The south-east monsoon blew them forth until they struck the Antarctic current. Eventually they arrived on the shores of South America, near where the city of Valparaiso stands today, on the Chilean coast. He named the place Kahiki Ku, after himself. Amam Ku died in this land, and his son, Amam Kalam, was the leader. The nation grew, and migrated from the mountainous country to a more fertile land (Peru).
It is from here, through wars with the descendants of his other brothers, that the descendants of Amam Kalam left Peru for other places under the leadership of Opukahonua, in 230 B.C.
They migrated to Easter Island, and eventually the descendants sailed for Tahiti. Rangi, or Wakea, is a descendant of this group.
Another migration from America in 55 B.C. was that of Hawaiiloa, Tiki I and Tangaroa. Their journey landed them on the Islands of Hawaii, named after their leader Hawaiiloa.
Up to this time these people, in my opinion, were white, as their Asian ancestor, Amam Ku was.
These are the migrations and connections as our genealogical society sees them.
We are asking you to publish this letter, to invite questions and arguments about these views.
Paumea H. McKay.
THE LATE SIR PETER BUCK
—In the initial issue of your magazine a contributor, G. S. Roydhouse, makes the statement concerning the late Sir Peter Buck: ‘In point of fact, his father's name was William Henry Neal, better known … as “Buck” Neal and his wife as Mrs “Buck”.’ ‘It was from this nickname,’ your contributor added, ‘that Peter gained his European surname.’
As I am engaged, with approval expressed by Sir Peter prior to his death, in writing his biography, I am naturally interested in this statement, and would be glad if either Mr Roydhouse or yourself would produce evidence in support of it. My own view is that it is untrue, that it would never have been made if Sir Peter were living, and that there is no evidence to support it. Your contributor does not only suggest that William Henry Buck was known as Neal, but that Neal was his correct name—not Buck.
I have been in touch with Sir Peter's relatives, and my information is that his father was William Henry Buck who, though Irish-born, came here from Australia in the early 'sixties, and fought in the Waikato War. His father was Henry Buck, civil engineer, of Dublin (some of whose letters are in my possession).
The latter's father was the Rev. Dr John Buck, a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, and the occupant of three livings within the gift of the College. Adam Buck, the miniaturist (to whom sat George IV), was a cousin of Dr John Buck's. There is no mention, as far as I am aware, of the name of Neal in the family tree.
Mr Roydhouse also states that Sir Peter's mother was Ngarongo ki tua. It is true that Sir Peter referred to Ngarongo in print as his mother. But, actually, she was his foster-mother. Sir Peter Buck's mother was Rina, a cousin once removed to Ngarongo. The child was certainly reared by Ngarongo, who has been described to me by those who knew her as a cripple, because Rina died early. That Rina was his mother is confirmed by a whakapapa in Sir Peter's own handwriting, which I found among his personal papers in Honolulu, also by the statements of Maori informants still living at Urenui. Therefore, Kapuakore was not Sir Peter's grandmother but, to use Mr Roydhouse's own phrase, ‘in point of fact’, his great-aunt. Of course, she was his kuia, and he regarded her as such. I have an unpublished tribute to her by Sir Peter, which is among the most delightful of his writings.
Neither can Lady Buck be referred to as a ‘nursing sister’ during the First World War. A more appropriate term would have been to describe her as a V.A.D. However, that is a minor point.
Mr Roydhouse paid me the compliment of repeating a statement that I published some years ago, but which I have since known to be incorrect. It was not the Rev. J. C. Andrew, of Ica Station, Wairarapa, who was responsible for Sir Peter entering Te Aute College. Sir Peter denied that statement, which I had published in good faith. In point of fact, he wrote his own application, and waited six months before it was acknowledged. Going to Te Aute was entirely his own idea. On arrival there he was asked who had written the application, and replied: ‘I did.’
Unfortunately, Sir Peter Buck is already a subject for legend. As your journal is the first to my knowledge to have published the statement that his name was really Neal, I hope you will either substantiate it or give my letter the same publicity. Also, some of Sir Peter's friends of long standing feel that a journal such as yours which, obviously, aims to set a standard, should have refrained from addressing him familiarly as ‘Peter’: either his title should have been used or he should have been referred to, simply, as Buck.
The statement that Sir Peter Buck's father's real name was William Henry Neal is entirely Mr Roydhouse's responsibility. Mr Ramsden suggests all this would never have been published had Sir Peter been alive. Of course Te Ao Hou would, in that case, have gone to Sir Peter for information and advice. But that is now impossible, and only a full investigation of all the facts will reveal the truth about William Henry. Correspondence on this subject is now closed.—The Editor, Te Ao Hou.
A GRATEFUL PAKEHA
Sir,—I am a pakeha who wishes to go on record as one who is grateful to the Maori people. They rounded out my education when, as a child, I first had anything to do with them, and it appears to me that they have a great destiny.
When I started at my second primary school I had never seen, as far as I could remember, a Maori, although I must have seen some at my birthplace, Otaki. At this new school there were over a hundred Maori children.
It was here that I first saw the haka, the poi dance, and the action song, and although we were not the biggest school in the district, we had the best haka party. When prominent people, or the School Inspectors visited the school, we entertained them with poetry and song, but only so that we could save the best until the last. Our star items were hakas, poi dances and action songs—action songs with the rhythm beaten out with pot lids. It did not matter what was used to mark the time, the grace of movement fascinated us all.
Our football team had Maori stars, its hero was a Maori All Black, and the Maoris added to games which became bitter a joke or a laugh which saved the day. As children we never realised how often our Maori friends laughed.
Our one trouble was that our Maori footballers passed the age limit while they were at school, and could no longer play. We lost the championship one year because of a Maori boy's birthday. In those days many Maori children started school late, and we had a boy who started in “Tiny Tots” (as they were called), when he was thirteen. After twenty years the Maori people have come a long way, and now this only happens rarely. The last time I visited my old school none of the Maori children were out of their proper standard for their ages.
I can remember in those days how many Maoris found English harder than the pakehas. Many of their parents had never been to school at all, and could not help them. Such expressions as ‘I came by walk it’, and ‘the calf
he is deaded’ were very common. It is no longer so. The subject in which Maoris excelled over everybody else was art, and the next subject to it, writing. Did the long tradition of the Maori, which produced the carving patterns in wood and the weaving patterns in flax, find its expression in drawing and writing? Without doubt the patience which was part of the skill of a carver had endured into their grandsons and grandaughters, for their work was remarkable for the care it showed.
By the time I left primary school I had been taught to listen to the music of the Maori language from those who were still able to speak it. Each morning the roll was called, and our headmaster used to read the Maori names first, all at once, and compare them with the more jerky English names: Ruru, Katene, Rangi, Mua, Puketapu — what musically soft names they were! It was good for us to hear the music of another language.
One of the events we most looked forward to each year was the making of a Maori oven. Every year the new children would watch, but what gave us most pleasure was the look on the faces of the older children, new to the school, who had never seen one before. Each of us brought food to cook, and it was delicious—even more so because of the excitement of fire, red-hot stones, steam, and more steam. Opening the oven itself was like undoing a mystery packet. Many of the Maoris themselves had never seen a Maori oven, and they were no less interested.
While I was at this school the district had a very large tangi for a relative of a chief. People came from all over the North Island, and many of the women wore the mourning green. For a few days the Maori salutation was seen many times in our small town, and the lamenting for the dead man was heard at night.
It was fortunate that our Headmaster was a man who knew some Maori, and loved Maori customs. He took pains to explain their history to us as well as their customs, the ones we were supposed to learn as part of our lessons. He told us of Sir Peter Buck and Sir Maui Pomare, as well as of the legends. At that time the Maoris had left their decline behind, and were increasing in numbers. When I left school two Maori children had reached Standard VI, and only one had left the school to go on to High School. Now it is a different story, and there were more Maori students in my class at the University than there were in my last standard at primary school.
I began by saying that I was grateful to the Maori people, and I conclude by repeating that I am grateful. You have a lot to teach us and I, for one, hope that you will retain your traditional customs and arts, and let them grow into a new Maori culture. Someday, perhaps, New Zealand will find that her artists are Maoris as well as the men who man the factories and farm the land. The Maoris will come into their heritage again 'as New Zealanders.