Youth of Mangakino
Most of Mangakino's Maori people are newcomers. But if they perhaps suffered in the first period from being cut off from their tribes and from a loss of communal life, they have certainly managed now to build up a healthy social life for themselves.
I was surprised to find, on my first visit, that they have no fewer than eleven youth clubs. Six of them are purely sports clubs, but in addition their are five which call themselves social and welfare clubs and provide for the deeper social needs of the new arrivals. They are the Taranaki Welfare, Tairawhiti, Tai Tokerau, Tauranga and Tuhoe clubs. Although as their names indicate they started on a strictly tribal basis, the tribal basis has not remained very strict and even pakehas and islanders have joined in.
I was very impressed by the spirit in the clubs I visited and I was also very interested in some ideas introduced into their clubs which as far as I know are fairly new in the Maori world. The Tuhoe club have worked out their own method of improving among other things communal drinking habits. Admittedly it is experimental, but I was impressed with what I saw and I think the club's ideas are worth watching carefully.
The first Social and Welfare Club formed in Mangakino was the Tairawhiti Club. It was formed because a member of a Tairawhiti tribe had a death in his family which meant that this member had to take this deceased person back to his own marae on the east coast. This meant a rather large undertaking as regards the finance, because it meant that he had to obtain a hearse from Putaruru to carry the body back to Wairoa in the Hawkes Bay district. The club was formed with the idea of helping any member who had the same experience while working in Mangakino. So a meeting was called of those members of the Tairawhiti tribes that were living in Mangakino and the outcome of it was that a committee was formed with the idea of controlling all the activities in this respect. They raised funds by asking each member to subscribe 5/- every week or as it was more convenient, 10/- every pay day. As soon as the other tribes saw this going on in Mangakino they immediately formed their own little welfare clubs and out of that were borne the Tai Tokerau, Tauranga and Taranaki clubs.
‘As time went on the clubs found themselves with a lot of spare cash on their hands, so then, in order to get rid of this spare cash, they widened their activities and started a loan scheme by which members belonging to each individual club could, if they applied, get loans of up to £15. The only thing that mattered when it came to applying for loans was the fact that you were a financial member of any one club.
After a while they found that after certain members of their clubs were given these loans these members immediately resigned from the club which meant then that the club could have no records to prosecute these members and obtain moneys that had been loaned to them, so that in effect they found that their membership was falling and that they had a lot of bad debts on their books.
In forming the Tuhoe Social and Welfare Club, the people responsible for the idea tried to benefit from the mistakes made by previous clubs. First of all, where as previous clubs had had a closed membership for the members of their own particular clans or tribes, the Tuhoe Club decided to broaden their membership and include anybody, whether pakeha or Maori, who were willing to abide by the rules of the club.
At this time also, more responsible members of the Tuhoe people that were living there, noticed that some of the members were taking to drink or to liquor excessively, so that it was no exception to find homes buying up to 15 dozen bottles of beer a week. They emphasised that they mooted the idea of a small club house where their members could get together and partake of liquor in moderation, rigorously controlled by the committee.
They started then, some months ago and to date their membership runs as follows:
Briefly their weekly programme runs as follows:
On Monday night the Club opens at 7 o'clock and from 7 to 9 they work under the able leadership of Mr W. Ward. From 9 to 10 they practice action songs and hakas.
Tuesday nights from 7 to 8 they are taught the art of making piu pius. From 8 to 9, carving. From 9 to 10, taniko.
Wednesday night from 7 to 8, taniko. From 8 to 9, action songs and hakas; 9 to 10, community singing.
Thursday night, free.
Friday night is what they term their Club Night. The activities on that night are mainly community singing, action songs and a general get-together.
On Saturday afternoons the club is open to women members from 4 to 4.30 and in that time they can do whatever they like, from having a general gossip feast to drinking liquor. From 5 to 5.15 the men, who return from work, have 15 minutes for drinking before tea. From 7 to 10 they usually have community singing, action songs, and at the same time drink liquor in moderation.
The Tuhoe Social and Welfare Club's aims and objects, as stated in their constitution, are: To provide a centre for the Tuhoe people of Mangakino, recreational, social and educational facilities (they hope to form a tennis club and to arrange courses with the Maori adult education tutor); to combat excessive drinking and to help needy families.
To become a member one must pay £3 per family and £3 per single man and single woman. In case of a death in the family of any member, the club pays £30 towards death expenses. In case of serious sickness £5 a week is paid until social security money starts coming in. The club provides a Christmas party for children of members. £100 is always kept aside as an emergency fund.
The rules for controlling alcoholic drinking are:
No alcohol shall be taken away from or brought to the headquarters of the club.
No member shall have the right to introduce liquor into the club house.
There shall be no brawling, swearing, thieving or damaging of club property while the members are in the club house.
No member shall be served liquor who is already under the influence.
Should anyone break these rules he shall be suspended from the club for a period of from 1 to 6 months. (Since the formation of the club no one has been suspended).
Anyone being found guilty of thieving shall be dismissed immediately.
Before the formation of the club it was no exaggeration to say that of the 75 members that make up the club, an average of 200 dozen bottles of beer were drunk weekly by these people. At the moment they are drinking 30 dozen bottles of beer per week and this is being cut up roughly into 12 dozen being drunk from Saturday, 4 o'clock, to Saturday, midnight. Six dozen on Friday night and the other 12 dozen spread over the week nights, the club being open to men members from 5 to 5.30 every week-night.
The club is working under great difficulties at the moment because their facilities are totally inadequate and because of this they have found it necessary to limit their membership.
One member of the Tribal Committee, Mr Ward, told me: “I feel that this club has found the answer to our liquor problem.”
Mr McDonald, Secretary of the Tribal Committee, said: “It is a real fine club and it is doing a great job.”
Mr C. Clayworth and Mr E. Clark, immigrants living in Mangakino, stated to me: “We already belonged to a lodge, but since we have been allowed to join this club we have forgotten about the lodge altogether. It is a really fine club and it is doing a really good job and it goes to prove that the Maori can really hold his own in any community.”