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No. 4 (Autumn 1953)
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“Today, in spite of the so-called ‘drift’ of many Maoris to urban areas and occupations, four out of every five Maoris live in the country.

“Some thirty or more years ago most Maoris lived in pas in which all the houses were within a few hundred yards of the meeting house and of one another. Nowadays most Maoris no longer live in such exclusively Maori settlements.”

These are among the conclusions drawn by Miss Joan Metge, a lecturer in geography at Auckland University College, who has made several years' study of places where Maoris live in the Auckland province. She has given Te Ao Hou the story of her discoveries, and drawn the revealing map shown on the next page. Here is what she has reported:


At present maoris do not live in any numbers in those parts of the province which are mountainous, forested, or otherwise naturally unsuited to farming development. In such areas there are few settlements and villages are widely scattered. Such as there are occur where the land is most favourable for farming, as in the coastal bays of Coromandel and in the Ruatahuna valley in the Urewera, or where forestry work is available, as in the Taupo area, in the Rangitaiki Valley and around Te Whaiti. There are large tracts where neither Maoris nor pakehas live—the Raukumara Range, the Ureweras (except for Ruatahuna and Te Whaiti), parts of the Volcanic Plateau, the dissected hill land of the southern King Country, and interior Coromandel. Maoris are also absent from such districts as those of Maungatapere, Warkworth and Helensville-Kumeu in Northland. A few Maori families are found at the edges of such areas, or are scattered.

Over the rest of the province Maoris are widely though fairly evenly distributed, except for a number of small areas where many live closely together. In the extreme north they are closely settled about the coastal inlets of Whangaroa, Whangape and Herekino, at various points on the Mangonui Peninsula, and in a crescent from Ahipara through Kaitaia to Waipapakauri. Similar concentrations are found on the bayhead plains of the East Coast—Hicks Bay, Te Araroa, Tokomaru, Tolaga and Waipiro Bays—at the southern end of Tauranga Harbour, and around Te Puke and Maketu. Four other places are also notable for their dense Maori population—Mangere (Manukau County), Pukekohe (Franklin), Waahi, near Huntly (Raglan) and Tokaanu (Taupo).

In the country areas, therefore, there is, broadly, the same distribution of Maoris as before the war. This does not mean things have not changed in the country. In those areas of dense Maori settlement where Maoris out-number the pakeha, the Maori population is not growing as fast as it is in most other areas. As a result, the concentration of Maoris in the far north and on the East Coast, north of Tokomaru Bay, though still remarkable, is less pronounced than it was in 1936. This situation is marked in the far north. There are actually fewer Maoris living on the shores of Hokianga and Whangaroa Harbours than there were before the war. Indeed, since 1945 any increase in the Maori rural population in the far north has been confined to the Kaikohe, Moerewa and Kawakawa districts. Today, the Maoris no longer equal the pakeha in numbers in the rural districts of the far north.

This trend is not nearly so apparent on the northern East Coast. The population is still increasing there, and, what is more, is increasing a good deal more rapidly than the pakeha

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population, for the ratio of Maoris to pakehas has been steadily rising, until now there are at least three Maoris to every pakeha, and in some districts as many as five. It is only since 1945 that the rate of increase has shown signs of slowing down, but the signs there, nevertheless.

The same tendency can be clearly seen in the eastern Bay of Plenty. In this case the growth of the Maori rural population has been small between Opotiki and Cape Runaway—an area which is still rather isolated and where the population is mainly Maori—and in comparison, little short of phenomenal between Opotiki and Matata, where pakeha settlement is already relatively close.

The Maori population of the Volcanic Plateau has also been growing very rapidly indeed, but pakeha farmers and pakehas working for timber companies or on public works projects have settled in the area at an even faster rate, so that there are more pakehas in relation to Maoris than there were before. Besides the Volcanic Plateau, the areas where the Maori population seems to be growing most rapidly are the Manukau-Franklin area, the Waikato and the southern parts of Northland—all areas where Maoris have not been numerous since the wars of the nineteenth century—and also the East Coast south of Tokomaru Bay, where Maori settlement is much less dense than it is on the northern East Coast. In the Thames Valley, on the other hand, there are fewer Maoris today than there were before the war. This area is the only one, outside the districts in the far north already mentioned, where the Maori population is not increasing at all.

Movement to Cities

It is obvious that the rate of natural increase among the Maoris cannot be declining in these more remote areas, like Hokianga and Waiapu, where the Maoris are more numerous. The natural increase—the number of children born in the average family—is just as great if not greater in the far north, along the Opotiki coast and on the northern East Coast than anywhere else in the Province. The reason why the number of Maoris actually living in these areas has not increased as much as could be expected is that large numbers leave these areas each year to go and live elsewhere. Some Maoris from other parts of the Province also leave their homes in search of work, but not in the same numbers. Not many Maoris move from one rural area to another, except perhaps to the new forest plantations and timber mills of the Volcanic Plateau. Most of those who leave their homes go to live in the towns and cities. Over the last sixteen years there has been a remarkable increase in the number of Maoris living in urban areas.

The most striking feature of this movement is the way in which its effect has been confined to the largest centres only. The number of Maoris living in the small rural centres, and in some of the smaller towns such as Matamata and Cambridge, has shown no exceptional increase, and in many cases has actually declined, whereas two-thirds of the Maori urban population are now concentrated in four major centres—Auckland (7106), Rotorua (1440), Gisborne (1096) and Hamilton (687).

Why Maoris Choose Large Centres

Maori workers prefer to remain as close as possible to their homes, hence, wherever possible, they move to towns within the area in which they live. Rotorua has become the economic centre of Maoris living on the Volcanic Plateau; Whakatane (397) and Opotiki (495) absorb many of the landless Maori workers of the Bay of Plenty. Both Te Kuiti (450) and Gisborne, regional centres for the King Country and southern East Coast respectively, have more than doubled their Maori population since before the war. Many Maoris living just outside the borough limits travel daily to work in all these towns. These towns, however, are not all always able to employ even those from their own districts who want work. Many, too, live in areas where there are either no towns or only towns in which industrial development is not far advanced. In all these cases Maori workers must seek work further afield.

For the most part they prefer the major cities of the Province—Auckland, Hamilton and Whangarei (401), all of which lie in areas where the population is predominantly pakeha. They prefer to travel to these cities, sometimes hundreds of miles, because of the greater opportunities for employment there, and also because they are sure of finding there others from their own part of the country. In at least two areas where Maoris are numerous, in proportion both to land areas and to pakeha population, Maoris migrate in a steady stream to these outside towns.

On the northern East Coast this outward movement is mainly to Auckland, and is due to the absence of an urban centre within the area and the overcrowded nature of employment in Gisborne, the nearest centre. The far north has six urban centres, but none is large; they cannot cope with the demand for employment from Maoris from the surrounding rural areas, and these must seek work in Whangarei or Auckland. Hamilton draws its Maori workers mainly

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from the Waikato, but also from the King Country. Apart from the regional and industrial centres already mentioned only five other towns have over 250 Maori residents. The bulk of others live on farms or interspersed with pakehas in small rural areas, and on the fringes of the larger towns.

The traditional pa still survives only in areas where farming is not a major activity for the Maoris, and where employment for wages can be readily obtained within easy reach of the settlements. The pa is probably best developed today along the shores of lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti, on the Volcanic Plateau and in the Urewera—at Te Whaiti and Ruatahuna. A few similar settlements are found in areas where most of the land has been occupied by pakehas for many decades, and the Maoris live mainly by working as labourers in primary and secondary industries—as in the Waikato, Matamata and Piako districts, in the vicinity of Opotiki and around Gisborne.

The movement from pas to individual farms, to towns and to cities, and the high rate of increase of those Maoris who live amongst pakehas contribute to bringing Maori and pakeha closer and closer together. This inevitably gives rise to new problems. The most obvious and urgent of these problems arise in the cities. The acute housing shortage has forced the majority of Maoris to congregate in the poorer parts of most towns, where over-crowding and inadequate sanitary arrangements endanger their health and standards of living. During the last few years, Maoris have been constantly moving into the better residential areas in the various centres, and have been entering the trades and professions in ever growing numbers, but their places have been quickly filled by new arrivals from the country. Consequently, the urban Maoris as a whole have as yet been only partially successful in adapting themselves to pakeha conventions of urban life and industry.

These problems are rendered all the more acute by the fact that everything favours the continued growth of the Maori urban population.

Hostel for Maori Girls

Cabinet has approved a subsidy of £5600 for the Methodist hostel for Maori girls at the corner of Ladies' Mile and Remuera Road. The cost of the building, which was previously a rest home, was £11,250. A further £3000 will be spent in alterations and renovations to the building. It is hoped the hostel will be ready for use towards the end of the year.—Auckland Star.

Maori Singer to Tour South Africa

Inia Te Wiata, the Maori bass singer, who went abroad to study some years ago, will be a member of the Covent Garden Opera Company which is to sail from London for South Africa on July 26. The tour will be a brief one, as the company will return to London by the end of August to prepare for appearances during the Coronation season.

Gloriana, the Coronation opera by Benjamin Britten, is to be performed during the South African tour, and for the Maori singer the composer has specially written an aria in the second act. The company began a tour of the British Isles on February 16, and Inia Te Wiata is travelling with it.

In addition, he has made a series of records of Maori songs, including ‘Waiata Poi’, ‘Hine e Hine’, the ‘Nikau Waltz’, and ‘Pokorekare’.

The singer, in a recent letter to friends, says that he is in excellent health, and weights 15st. 51b.


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