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No. 7 (Summer 1954)
– 62 –



There are good prospects that in the present financial year the target of 500 new houses will be reached by the Housing Division of the Department of Maori Affairs. Between April 1 and November 30 of last year, the number of houses completed totalled 278 as against 221 for the same period in 1952. It is therefore not improbable that the previous financial year's achievement of 456 will be considerably exceeded this year. Apart from new houses, the Housing Division completed 222 other building works between April 1 and November 30, 1953; in addition there were, on the latter date, 230 new houses and 98 other jobs under construction.

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The Rev. Paki Tipene, of the Auckland diocese, was recently appointed an honorary Canon of the Cathedral Church of St. Mary, Auckland. There are now two Maori Canons in the Auckland diocese, the other being Canon Keretene (an uncle of N. P. Cherrington, the All Black), one in Waiapu (P. Kohere) and one in Wellington (P. Te Muera).

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The Maori Affairs Department proposes to open a full-scale office in Whangarei, to be established in the new State Fire Insurance building. Up to now, both the Tokerau and the Waikato-Maniapoto district offices have been located in Auckland. The present plan will result in the Tokerau district office being moved to Whangarei, leaving the Waikato-Maniapoto office in Auckland. The advantage of the new arrangement will be that the district office will be much closer to the people of Tokerau than before. Practically all Northland Maoris live north of Whangarei.

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Many people are opposed to teaching Maori in primary schools because they think teaching a young child in two languages at once is bad practice. The Central Advisory Council of Education in Wales would not agree with them. According to ‘UNESCO Features', bilingual teaching in English and Welsh in the primary schools of Wales has been recommended by the Council, after studies which indicated that no serious psychological problems would thus be created. The University of Wales has announced that special courses will be organised to provide a sufficient number of qualified teachers.

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It was Colonel Bertrand, who as Major Bertrand, 2 I/C 28th (Maori) Battalion, made the discovery that the Maoris were not the only people who recognised the merits of puha. The New Zealand Division had landed in Greece and 5th Brigade transport was proceeding by road to its position near Olympus. During a halt for lunch it was observed that the farmers were very busy weeding their crops and Major Bertrand strolled over to get a closer view. The workers were not weeding but gathering puha, which they said was a much prized vegetable with them. Very soon, at the rate of a shilling a sugar bag, they were gathering puha for the Maori transport drivers.

Puha, sonchus oleraceus to the botanist and sow thistle to everybody else, is such a typical New Zealand plant that it is generally thought to be native to this country. It was first noted scientifically by Ernst Dieffenbach, who came here in the Tory as surgeon and naturalist to the New Zealand Company. As early as 1843 he mentioned that the Maori people used it freely as a green vegetable. It is not, however, a native plant for it is common in Europe and may have come to New Zealand as a stowaway in the canoes of the great migration. At least that is what Dr H. H. Allen, of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, thinks possible.

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An important Maori collection has been presented to the Canterbury Museum by Judge Ivor Prichard, of the Tokerau Maori Land Court. The artifacts were assembled by his father, Mr T. C. Prichard, of Spring Creek, Blenheim.

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The hui tau for Maori Catholics at Easter is expected to be held at Pukekaraka, Otaki. Considerable improvement work has been carried out recently at the Pukekaraka marae, involving the removal of sandhills and the construction of playing fields for football and basketball. To coincide with the Easter gathering a new dining hall will be opened.