AN OUTPOST OF
Hidden away in the southernmost portion of the South Island, 17 miles from Invercargill, lies the small town of Bluff. In this town which shelters beneath Motupohue hill, I found a small compact Maori community amidst a predominantly pakeha settlement, furthermore a Maori community keen on preserving its identity or Maori status through supporting its tribal committee, and through the learning of waiata, haka and action song. This keenness was evident when the local Maori people farwelled the Queen and when they entertained the visiting Fijian athletes.
From what I could gather the local people are descendants of the Ngai Tahu, Ngati Mamoe and Waitaha tribes. Located in this area are several well-known southland families such as the Whaitiri, Bradshaw, Te Au and Tupi families. Fishing plays an important part in the activities of these people due to the proximity of the town to the sea. The Bluff is perhaps best known as the source of the titi and the oyster in the Maori world. Most of the locals have interests in the mutton bird islands and annual visits are still being made to these islands.
Bluff's population may be termed a floating one, due to the influx of young seasonal workers from other areas. These workers most of whom are Maori lads from the North Island find temporary work at the local freezing works and increase the population by five or six hundred. These young Maori visitors play an important part in the Maori activities of the community due to their knowledge of Maori culture.
With the commencing of new civic projects such as the construction of the new Bluff wharf, the Maori population may perhaps undergo an overnight change. Permanent work will soon be assured and it is possible that a number of these seasonal workers will become permanent residents.
Old South Island Waia [ unclear: ] ta
The Maori people of Bluff unlike several other communities are fortunate in still having several elders in Tom Spenser, Ted Cameron, Mick Anglem and Maramu Te Au from Invercargill and also elderly women in Riti Cross, Ani Rita, Hilda Anglem and Phyllis Shephard. I once heard Maramu Te Au recite an old South Island waiata beginning “Whakarongo ki te tangi a te ruru.” He suggested that it be taught to the young people. As I listened to him I could not help but think how fortunate these people were in having such elders, and also how close we were to the time when watching and listening to these old timers of the South would be but an item of history.
This community of Bluff is again fortunate in being served by an active tribal committee under the chairmanship of Bob Whaitiri. At a meeting of the Maori people with representatives of the Invercargill governing bodies the main topic under discussion was the part that the Maori people were to play in the Southland Centennial Celebrations. Plans were brought forth, discussed, finalised and promptly acted upon. On the appointed day the Maori people appeared in full force and did full credit to the Maori people on the two occasions that they appeared before the public.
Every Maori community should have its marae or civic centre and so whilst Auckland has its Community Centre and Wellington its Ngati Poneke hall so Bluff has its Whare Maori. A marae consisting of an assembly hall or whare nii and an open courtyard is essential to Bluff.
Through the existence of a place of this nature I think that there is a greater opportunity, than there would otherwise be, for the promotion of the spirit of co-operation and understanding between the two races. A good illustration of this is the meeting—already mentioned—between the Maori people and the Invercargill representatives, which was held in the Whare Maori, a meeting to make plans for a combined effort of both races in marking the Centenary of the Southland Province. A marae would give the people a sense of belonging to something, a quiet pride in something that is Maori yet something they can call their own. Unlike the centres of Auckland and of Wellington which cater for any number of people, the Bluff centre has been found to be small on numerous occasions so efforts are now being made to have a newer and bigger hall erected. Receiving little response from some
responsible bodies the local people are nevertheless going ahead in raising the necessary finance.
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The Bradshaw Family
It is only right that some mention should be made of the efforts of the Bradshaw family in upholding and in teaching the arts and crafts of our race. To them it is not so much a job as a dedication towards imparting their knowledge to the young people of today.
“Wednesday nights in the Whare Maori are given to the very young children, who are under the tuition of Norman Bradshaw. These children are taught the same songs as their older brothers and sisters. Prior to the departure of the Queen from the Bluff all these children with their elders banded together to make their Maori costumes under the instructions of Norman Bradshaw.
The busiest night of the week however is on Sunday when all the people, young and old, troop along to the Whare Maori to take part in the night's entertainment. A typical evening is as follows, from 7.30 to 8.30 there are organised games such as table tennis, darts, and quoits after which the gear is packed away and the haka and action song practisebegins. Visitors are always encouraged to take part in the practices and I once saw Hemi Ruwhiu and two other boys from the East Coast teaching the crowd a new action song, “Hora hora atu ra.” In one evening I have heard a song from North Auckland, an action song from the East Coast, an action song and a haka from Rotorua, and some new action songs from the South Island. While all this singing is in progress Mrs Whaitiri, Mrs Bradshaw, Myra Ryan and others are busy in the kitchen preparing the supper. Ten p.m. and Leslie, Shirley and Moana start serving the supper. About this time Mrs Whaitiri is busy selling the raffle tickets During the supper period light entertainment is provided by anything that the young people have to offer in the form of solos, guitar playing, a hula by Deima, or a poi exhibition by Nora. Maku and Wara, and Rena.
After this little breather the practise goes into full swing again and so throughout the evening and late into the night, the hall resounds to the echo of spirited haka and Maori melody.
The first post-graduate scholarship to be awarded by the Ngarimu V.C. Scholarship Fund Board has been granted to Lieutenant-Colonel C. M. Bennett, D.S.O., Controller of Maori Welfare. Colonel Bennett is a Master of Arts and also holds a Diploma of Social Science and a Diploma of Education. He intends to take up his scholarship next year at a university in Britain, where he will study for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The board expressed great satisfaction at the calibre of the students offering for the various awards. Ngarimu V.C. Scholarships were awarded to Waari Geoffry Ward-Holmes, previously of Nelson Intermediate School, who is holding his scholarship at Nelson College, and to Eliza Edmonds, previously of Karetu Maori School, who is holding her scholarship at Queen Victoria School, Auckland. A Ngarimu V.C. Secondary School Scholarship was awarded to Frederick P. T. Bennett, of Te Hauke School, Hastings, who is holding his scholarship at the New Plymouth Boys' High School. Ngarimu V.C. University Scholarships have been won by Wairehu W. Hikaka, of St Patrick's College, Silverstream, who proposes to begin a medical course at the University of Otago this year; and by Anthony P. Hura, of St Patrick's College, Silverstream, who also proposes to begin a medical course at Otago this year. He belongs to the Ngati Tuwharetoa tribe, of Taupo. Ngarimu V.C. Essay Competitions (essays in Maori)—Primary section: Nan Herewini, of Te Kaha Maori District School. Post-primary sections: Tukaki H. K. Waititi, of St Stephen's School, Auckland; and Mac Walker, of St Stephen's School, Auckland. Essays in English—Primary section: Steve Lambert, of Te Aute College, Hawke's Bay. Post-primary section: Mason Durie, of Te Aute College, Hawke's Bay.
Two major land development schemes in the Kawhia country, involving 2840 acres and costing £143,300, have been approved by the Government, the Minister of Maori Affairs, Mr Corbett announces. One scheme known as the Oparau Scheme, is of 1410 acres and is some eight miles from Kawhia on the main Kawhia-Te Awamutu road. The estimated cost of development and settlement of this land is £68,500. The property will be farmed as a station for eight years to offset the excess of development costs over valuation for settlement. The property will eventually be subdivided into one dairy and four sheep farms. Work has started on the cultivation and grassing of the first 400 acres. The second project, the Waipuna scheme of 1430 acres, is situated 18 miles from Kawhia. The estimated cost is £74,800. The plan provides for eventual subdivision into four sheep farms and two mixed sheep and dairy farms. Initial development work will begin this autumn.