WEEK-END IN WHANGAREI
The Maori people of Whangarei and surrounding district should soon see the results of the hard work and enthusiasm they are directing towards renovating and extending their community hostel. Already they have in hand £3500 of their target of £4000, which includes a Government subsidy and donations from the Maori Land Boards.
Built on part of a site gifted by the Kaka Porowini family, the hostel is at present the only Maori community building in Whangarei, and is used for the casual travelling public. It has an excellent situation in one of the finest parts of the town. The intention is not only to renovate the hostel itself, but also to provide room for 12 Maori apprentices.
This is just one of several commendable developments in Whangarei towards providing better social and community facilities for use by the Maori people of the district. When the £4000 for the hostel has been fully collected, it is intended to start raising money to build club rooms for the very live Maori Young People's Club. The land for this is already available, right next door to the hostel, on a section also belonging to the Kaka Porowini estate.
In this project, as in the hostel renovation plan, the Tribal Executive and the Maori Women's Welfare League are taking the main responsibility for raising the money, and are keen to help the Young People's Club to obtain its own clubrooms. These clubrooms, although still some years away, will be the crowning achievement of a youth movement which has already, in its two years' existence, proved a great asset to the Maori community of Whangarei.
Te Ao Hou's representative recently visited Whangarei to see for himself something of what the Maori Young People's Club is doing, and also to hear at first hand of the general efforts to further improve social facilities for the Maori residents. He found that a considerable part of the younger Maori people of Whangarei take an interest in the club and this is reflected in the high attendances at its social functions.
In two years the club has made remarkable progress. Today it has a tennis club with its own courts, both indoor and outdoor basketball teams, and a very active entertainment group. Its tennis club this season won the Ngapuhi Challenge Cup in its second bid for the trophy, beating the holders, the Portland Club. Te Ao Hou's visit coincided with the weekend the deciding match was held. The Young People's Clubs team had put in a year's hard training for the event, and there was considerable excitement around the courts.
After the match the Maori Welfare Officer, Mr Jim Pou, invited the victors to his home for
the evening to celebrate the occasion. The club's entertainment group provided a fine musical programme, mainly comprising modern Maori songs to guitar accompaniment. Te Ao Hou learned that these songs had been brought back by the party which attended the memorial meeting held at Tikitiki in honour of the late Sir Apirana Ngata.
The club has also its own haka entertainment party, which has given performances at several district functions. Its leader is Miss Kohu Hau, and several of its male members are from Te Ti, where they learned Maori action dancing from a very early age. This well-trained nucleus has been able to instruct the other members. Rehearsals are held weekly, the group being allowed free use of the Y.M.C.A. hall. One supporter brings some of the members regularly from the Glenbervie State Forest on rehearsal nights. Naturally the group is anxious to obtain its own clubrooms, as are all other members of the club.
The quick progress the Maori Young People's Club has made in Whangarei is an example of what can be achieved in smaller centres of population. The enthusiasm and community spirit are usually easier to develop in such smaller towns, particularly among young Maori people from country districts. Many such young Maoris are finding employment in Whangarei, and the existence of the club is a boon to them in their leisure time.