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No. 10 (April 1955)
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TWO PERSONALITIES
A CONTRAST

I. Te Pairi and his Friends by Elsdon Craig

Te Pairi Tu Terangi, of Waimana, is dead. Haere ra, e koro e. Haere ki te Hono-i-wairua. The last human link between the old world and the new has been severed.

Death comes to the lovable old man in his mountain village, Tanatana, in the folds of his beloved Urewera hills under a starlit sky on the night of November 23–24. For four years he has been a cripple, confined to his house, looking out on to the misty valleys where he spent his life, waiting patiently for the end. When it came it was the signal for a great tangi for Te Pairi was united by birth and marriage with many tribes. They came from all over the North Island to farewell the last of the great kaumatua of an age gone by.

Nobody knew exactly how old Te Pairi was. Some said he was nearly 100. Others claimed he was nearer to 110. That he was a great age is certain for he not only lifted the war trail with Te Kooti but he also remembered Kereopa and the hanging of the Rev Volkner, in Opotiki, in 1865. He was an old man when Peehi (Elsdon Best) was in the Urewera Country in 1900. A photograph taken by the white man at that time shows Te Pairi with a flowing white beard, resembling the one which was so familiar to those who knew him in later years.

Te Pairi was educated in the school of ancient Maori culture. He clung affectionately to the ways of his forefathers until the end. He never learned to speak English. He was immersed in the traditions and ritual of a romantic past. One of his prized possessions were the shark tooth ear ornaments which he always wore. As a member of the Ringatu Church he was deeply religious and his spiritual life was an example to others.

Time and again he impressed on young people the value of home life set on firm spiritual foundations. “Home,” he once said, “is the most sacred possession which the Maori has.” He regarded “home” as the marae and saw Maori society undergoing a change in which the marae was no longer its centre.

His sentimental regard for his Queen was touching. Dearly though he wanted to meet

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Te Pairi Tu Terangi (new zealand herald photograph)

her during her tour, his crippled body would not let him make the journey. However, his devotion was such that he lent his fine collection of family heirlooms for display during Her Majesty's Coronation.

Tuhoe was the last Maori tribe to emerge from a primitive state into the new world. They were notable fighters and a conservative people who long defied the white man's civilization. Nevertheless, they have always been a wise people. This wisdom was evident as long ago as 1843 when the Rev William Colenso visited them. He offered them trinkets and ornaments thinking they would fascinate these wild tribesmen. Instead Tuhoe asked him for books in their own language so they could learn to record their traditions.

Te Pairi shared this wisdom and foresight. So did his kinsman, Tutakangahau, of Tamakai-

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moana, at Maungapohatu. When the Maori school at Te Whaiti opened in 1890 this long since departed veteran of Te Kooti's campaign, who was completely immersed in his own culture, brought his grandchildren to the school to be educated. He even braved the disapproval of his tohunga in allowing them contact with the tapuless Pakeha that they might learn about the new world. Tutakangahau specially requested that the children should be taught the ways and customs of the white man. Then he addressed to them these words which, judged by any standards, were full of wisdom and a sound lesson in behaviour.

“Should the Pakeha correct or chide you,” he said, “you must not be angry or sullen—that is a token of ignorance and low birth. It is by such correction that you shall learn to live well in this world”.

Another of these farseeing patriachs was Paitini Wi Tapeka of Ngati Maru, also a contemporary of Te Pairi. He was born in 1844, fought against the British at Orakau, marched with Te Kooti, and was steeped in the ancient culture of his people. Yet, he believed the future of his race lay in the Maori retaining the best of his own and the European way of life. Even when Tuhoe was tearing up the survey pegs on the Te Whaiti-Ruatahuna road line, Paitini was giving of his wealth of knowledge to be recorded for the inspiration of future generations.

Given the advantages of modern education, men

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Elsdon Best and Paitini.

like Te Pairi, Tutakangahau, and Paitini, would no doubt have ranked with Ngata, Buck and other great leaders who refashioned Maori society and adjusted it to western standards. In any case they will go down in history among the thinkers who pioneered the new age.

II. Pat Smyth by Melvin Taylor

Patrick Smyth's death last May marked the close of an era in the history of St. Stephen's school, Bombay. In his 44 years' association with the school he became one of its traditions. He loved St. Stephen's—the predominantly Maori school standing like a sentinel in the Bombay hills, commanding the southern approach to Auckland.

In fact, he loved the Maori people. It was not always so. Though a half-caste Maori himself, as a lad he disliked the Maoris. It was when learning the Maori language and traditions, to teach Maori boys English that he learned to love the people. He became one of the Maori champions. As a child he had tried to wash the brown off his face with soap and water. In Auckland he would cross the street to avoid the kuias sitting on the pavement.

Smyth was born in the remote, bush-bound settlement of Pungare, Keri Keri, in 1893. The settlement was made up of five scattered homes surrounded by a sea of gorse, bush, ti-tree, fern, and acres of rush-covered swamps.

His mother was a chieftainess from Waihou, Hokianga. His father was an Irishman who had come out to New Zealand in the army to fight in the Maori wars. Only English was spoken in the home so the boy had no chance to learn Maori there. He was 16 when he first went to St. Stephen's—the place he called home up to within a few months of his death 44 years later. He knew this home from all angles. From ordinary schoolboy he made his way to prefect, head boy, junior assistant, senior assistant, acting headmaster and, finally, headmaster.

Young Smyth was a real backblocker when he

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first went to St. Stephen's, never having seen a ship, policeman, piano or football, and not knowing the difference between a half-crown and a two-shilling piece. He had come to town to be educated in more ways than one. He marvelled at the huge buildings and the trams. Looking out a tram window on one occasion he sprang to the other side of the car believing that a lamp post was heading straight for him. Most of his brother pupils were Maoris. That irked him, but did not stop him from working hard at his studies. In his second year he passed the Public Service examination and then went pupil teaching at Newmarket School. Leaving St. Stephen's he vowed there would be no more Maori for him. He could not have been more wrong.

The headmaster at St. Stephen's, whom he respected and loved dearly, kept bothering the young teacher to take a job at the school. He offered £80 a year and keep. It was a millionaire's offer to what he had been getting. He was soon back at St. Stephen's, his vow to “finish with the Maori” conveniently set down In his job of teaching the Maori boys English he felt he needed to know the Maori language. He took it up and mastered it. Gradually he became interested in the Maori people. Reading of their traditions and history, he was won over and devoted his life to the Maori race, especially to Maori youth. For many years he lectured on Maori education and Maori matters generally. He published Te Reo Maori and Maori Pronunciation. Through Te Reo Maori, the familiar little book with the pretty Maori cover designs, his name is now known throughout the country to those with an interest in the Maori language. While teaching at St. Stephen's Smyth decided to study for his B.A. degree on a part time basis. This was despite the fact that he had never had the time or money to attend a secondary school—St. Stephen's was a primary in his pupil days.

While studying for his degree he was bringing up a young family. Getting the degree was a stiff climb but he made it, finishing his studies in 1930 when he was 37 years old. The Greek course nearly stumped him, as he had never seen any Greek before starting university, Twice he failed the subject, but on his third shot he made it.

During the second World War Mr Smyth was a captain in command of A (Ngapuhi) Co., 2nd Maori Battalion, stationed at Ohaeawai. He wanted to go overseas but, because of his age, was not allowed, and he was sad when, one dark dawn he stood quietly on the side of the road and watched his men marching for overseas.

At that time St. Stephen's was closed. It had been shut down in 1942 and was not re-opened till November 1946, when Mr Smyth was appointed acting headmaster. From the date of its re-opening it was exclusively a secondary school. Mr Smyth was appointed headmaster in 1947. Because of the school's shaky financial position he never pushed for the salary he could have commanded. His interest in the Maori was so great that he refused many better paying propositions. He revelled in work and in overwork. The strain took its toll on his heart, and forced him to retire early this year.

Enforced retirement bewildered him. He had counted on another ten working years and had geared his retirement plans to fit. Sudden retirement caught him without housing provision and this brought a new worry to a man for whom worry was bad. Four months after his retirement he was dead.

Quietly reminiscing at his daughter's sunny Pukekohe home one day, not long before his death, Mr Smyth said that he felt he owed everything he had enjoyed and achieved to the years when he attended St. Stephen's. St. Stephen's had baptised him, confirmed him, and given him the privilege of climbing every rung of its ladder.