What Taxes Must We Pay?
The Government has now made clear what taxes it expects the Maori farming organisations to pay. Towards the end of 1951 an impression existed that these organisations had evaded their taxes, and a Royal Commission was called for to investigate these alleged evasions.
The Commission made it quite clear that no wilful tax evasion had occurred, and that the Maori people of the East Coast ‘really believed that they were enjoying taxation immunity with Ministerial knowledge and approval, and with the apparent acceptance of that position by the Commissioner of Taxes.’
Although reputation was saved, this belief in immunity was definitely shattered. At the same time the Commission made it clear that the 1939 Statute under which tax had been payable was quite unworkable. The clerical work expected of the Maori organisations under that Statute was beyond what could reasonably be expected.
Accordingly, the commission made three recommendations. A new Act should be passed by which taxation would be assessed in a simpler and more reasonable way, suited to Maori organisations, with their enormous number of small owners. Taxes in respect of income earned before March 31, 1950, should be treated as irrecoverable. Taxes in respect of income earned between that date and March 31, 1952, should be recovered, but no penalties charged for past failure to pay such taxes.
Legislation was passed during the last session, following the publication of this report. This legislation, in the main, followed the Commission's recommendations.
It defined all Maori Incorporations and other organizations farming Maori land in trust for the owners (such as the Board of Maori Affairs, for instance) as Maori authorities. These Maori authorities are expected to pay tax in future on a basis too complicated to set out here in full. Where the number of beneficiaries of a Maori authority is twenty or less, each owner's share of the taxable profit forms part of his personal income, irrespective of how much is distributed. Where the number of owners is more than 20, there are two forms of taxation. The owner is assessed in his own name on amounts distributed to him. If there is also undistributed income—that is, if the authority makes profits which for some reason it does not distribute, these profits are taxable, too. For 1952 the rate is 2s. 6d. in the pound, plus 5 per cent.
Social Security Charge on taxable profits is paid by the Authority, irrespective of owners.
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But the girls who take School Certificate and those who go on into the Sixth Form to get their University Entrance, generally leave school to become nurses or teachers. They want very much to go back to work among their own people.’
As I talked to the girls themselves I found how widely scattered their homes are. Some of them belong to districts where the old arts are very strong, and the Maori language familiar; others to places where Maori is scarcely spoken at all.
‘One of the things we try to do,’ Miss Hunter said, ‘is to encourage Maori crafts, and to teach them all to be fluent in Maori. It is a set subject for School Certificate, and we share our Maori language teacher with Te Aute College.’
To encourage Maori arts and crafts in a school staffed almost exclusively with pakehas would seem rather difficult to an outside observer. I had met the staff, an English-woman, a Viennese who teaches needlework, a games mistress from Dublin, a number of New Zealanders. Each of them seemed particularly happy in her work at Hukarere, but not one of them had said a word about teaching taniko or tukutuku, or action songs. But when Horowai Ngarimu, the leader of the Maori Club, called her girls together for a lunch-hour practice, I saw for myself that all Miss Hunter needs to do to encourage Maori art is to give this club enough time, and the girls will teach each other. As they moved from one action song to another, I could see that at Hukarere everyone teaches what she knows in the old traditional way. Just before the afternoon work began the Sixth Formers sang the ancient chant Popo! for us, and the rest of the school stood quietly listening and learning.
When they finished the chant I talked to Horowai and the other Sixth Formers. All four
of them intend to become teachers. Tilly Moeke, of Ruatoria, who is the grand-daughter of an old Hukarere girl, will go to Ardmore next year, with Ruth Paerata, of Taupo. Angenina Hamm, of Tuwharetoa, Taupo, has other plans.
‘I'm going to have a year's teaching first. I think I'll get more experience that way. Then I'll go on to Training College.’ Horowai Ngarimu, of Ruatoria, who was elected Head Prefect this year, is going to Wellington, to Training College and the University. She was very philosophical about her work with the Maori Club.
‘When they first come to school here lots of the girls have no idea how to do taniko or how to make pois. But they soon learn, even if some of them never learn to twirl their pois.’
I left the Sixth Form settling down to a history lesson, and went to see the recently-acquired laboratory and the new dormitories. Hukarere has a full programme. But the fact that it is a boarding-school helps, and so does the rather unusual division of the school year into two long terms.
‘Some of our girls live three days' journey from Napier,’ Miss Hunter told me as we examined the new bathrooms,’ and this two-term arrangement saves a lot of extra travelling time. Besides, we get through the year's work with less pressure. And we all enjoy a holiday in the winter, especially the girls whose homes are in the far north, where the weather is more reasonable in July than it is in Napier.’
LINKS WITH TE AUTE
Hukarere is an old-established institution in the city of Napier, and the school has always had some very good friends there, right from the beginning. The school began seventy-seven years ago, soon after Te Aute College was established. It has many links with Te Aute still, and is maintained by the Te Aute Trust Board. But the strongest link of all is with the founder of both schools, Bishop William Williams, who bought a property for a girls' school on Hukarere Hill, right opposite his own home. In 1875 Hukarere opened in a very small and informal way, with a staff of two, and the assistance of Miss Maria Williams, who kept the accounts, and her sisters, Kate and Mary Ann, who gave some lessons.
Twice in seventy years Hukarere has been violently uprooted and twice rebuilt—first from the ashes of a disastrous fire in 1910, and again from the rubble of the 1931 earthquake. After the fire the Trustees moved the school to where it now stands. The alterations after the earthquake, the additional dormitories, and the new laboratory and classrooms, which have just been built, have changed the face of Hukarere. But none of this created quite the same excitement among the girls, or quite the same interest outside the school as the building and decoration of the new Chapel.
‘Napier has suddenly discovered Hukarere,’ Miss Hunter said, ‘and we have acquired a lot of new friends.’
‘Is there much coming and going between Hukarere and the town?’
‘Not really. We're very self-contained here. The girls play basketball down on the Parade, and the school is open to the public on some occasions. We did go down to town to see “Broken Barrier”—the girls had a lot of fun identifying their friends. Both Katie Ngarimu and Lily Te Mahu were at school here a year or two ago, and some of the present girls were in the film too. But generally we see films up here, about twelve times a year. The Maori clergy come up to take services in the Chapel.’
A good deal of the school's life is centred round the Chapel, although the girls are not by any means all members of the Church of England. When the several generations of women who regard Hukarere with affection wanted to make a gift to their old school, they quite naturally chose to build a new Chapel for the girls to worship in.
Time will mellow the bright kowhaiwhai. The building of the Chapel, the long months when the craftsmen occupied the school sickroom, the patient hours the girls themselves spent on the tukutuku panels will become a legend at Hukarere. And, because of this Chapel, many generations of girls will cultivate the arts and crafts of their people with greater understanding.
I left Hukarere School convinced that, in its particular approach to the education of Maori women, it is extraordinarily successful. Many of the girls I saw will go on to train themselves to serve their own communities in a particular way. But, most important of all, each one of them will leave school knowing how to make a happy home.