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No. 16 (October 1956)
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It Was Good to be Together

A REPORTAGE OF THE MAORI SPRINGBOK MATCH

As for the weather, dark clouds were gathering, but the sky was far from overcast.

The more serious ones discussed the question uppermost in everyone's mind ‘Can they do it?’

Eden Park was a wonderful sight. Here were gathered the thousands who had waited so long for this match. From the Bluff oyster beds, the sheep farms of the East Coast, the dairy farms of Waikato and Taranaki and from Northland, the people had assembled in what must be considered one of the greatest tribal gatherings of modern times.

The atmosphere seemed strangely subdued; the carnival spirit which had been apparent in the city and at pre-match functions the night before had disappeared, and in its place there was left a state of tension.

There was, in that large crowd, a feeling of belonging, of one-ness and of pride, such as is apparent at any large hui. As one university student put it, it makes you feel great to be a Maori.

It seemed a pity therefore that the organizers did not make full use of an opportunity to show the pakeha—and the Maori too—aspects of Maori culture which would have proved both beneficial and entertaining. This however was only one fault in a huge administrative job, which in all other respects was done most creditably and efficiently.

As match time grew nearer, excitement revived; it increased during the last curtain raiser and reached a crescendo as the black and green players ran on to the field.

There was silence while the National Anthem was played and then terrifying roars as the Maori team did their haka.

The composition of the teams was as follows:

SOUTH AFRICA

Full-BackViviers.

Three-QuartersBriers, Kirkpatrick, Nel, van Vollenhoven.

Fly-HalfHowe.

Scrum-HalfStrydom.

Back RowRetief.

Middle RowAckermann, Claassen, Du Rand, Starke.

Front RowBekker, van der Merwe, Walker.

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NEW ZEALAND MAORIS

Full-BackWalters.

Three-QuartersMenzies, Walsh, Katene.

Five-EighthsTaitoko, Gray.

Half-BackDavis.

Back RowPryor.

Middle RowPotae, Hill, Hiha, Emery.

Front RowClarke, Kite, Hohaia.

From the side-lines, the features of play which brought victory to the Springboks seemed to be:

*The exceptional power and mobility of the South African pack from the first scrum onwards.

*The almost complete domination of line-out play by the South African forwards, especially Claassen and Du Rand.

*The latitude allowed the South African half-backs Strydom and Howe, who ran almost at will and simply tore the Maori defence wide open.

*Glorious kicking by the Springbok captain Viviers, who converted five times and kicked two brilliant field goals.

*The strong running of Nel, Kirkpatrick and Briers, whose task was made easier by the absence of any Maori cover defence.

The ineffectual tackling by the loose forwards and Maori inside backs were features which did not appeal to the large crowd.

The Maoris were defeated; they were outclassed by a team that was fitter, faster and more brilliant on the day, a team which showed that they were worthy of the name Springbok.

It was a great disappointment to the thousands of Maori people present, especially those who had travelled long distances. The score was hard to believe, but the people were loud in their praise of the Boks' display. Amongst the rows of buses and cars outside the ground, one could sense an almost unnatural quiet, the people were subdued, the overwhelming defeat had come as a great shock.

However, there was little time for immediate regret and it is typical of the Maori that win or lose there should be some form of celebration. In homes and halls all over Auckland thousands met. The people found an opportunity to have family and tribal reunions and others found a good excuse for just having a party. The scene at Te Papapa—a hall hired by a private Auckland citizen to entertain some 120 visiting relations—was a typical one. Here the programme took the form of a hangi kai followed by a social which lasted till the early hours of the morning. At these gatherings the traditional songs and dances of the Maori made up for the day's disappointment.

The game was over and now the opportunity came to sum up the pleasanter aspects of the weekend. Most memorable probably was the way it brought people closer together. Maori and pakeha mingled with one another, new friendships were created and old ones renewed. Rugby showed that it was not just a sport but also a social institution for forming healthy relationships. As the Minister of Maori Affairs said the following day when the Springboks were welcomed at Turangawaewae: ‘Sport serves as a channel for the instilling of goodwill and fellowship among people, races and nations.’

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Walsh (New Zealand Maoris) passes the ball to Menzies on being tackled by A. I. Fitzpatrick. Pat Walsh, a schoolteacher, played as full-back in the first two tests, and as centre in the Maori match and the fourth test. (NPS Photograph)

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Springboks sing their farewell song on the porch of Mahinarangi meeting house after being welcomed by the Waikato tribes at a representative meeting in Ngaruawahia on Sunday, August 26, attended by the Minister of Maori Affairs, the Hon. E. B. Corbett. (NPS Photograph)

A sixth form pupil at the Epsom Grammar school, Ngaio Te Rito, originally of Masterton, was the second Maori to be awarded an American Field Service scholarship. She left for San Francisco last July and will spend two years living with an American family and attending an American college.

She was educated at the Queen Victoria School for Maori Girls, in Auckland. The first Field Scholarship winner, Miss Tuhingia Barclay, was also educated there.

Miss Te Rito is the granddaughter of Te Makirangi Te Rito of Kihitu, Wairoa and the great granddaughter of Eru Mete of Wairoa. Through him she is descended from the Ngapuhi chief Patuone.

* * *

A new Maori church in permanent materials is being built near the old Pamapuria Maori Anglican Church, Kaitaia. Much of the work is being done by voluntary helpers, and it is hoped to have the bulk of it completed in about a fort-night. They are using concrete blocks as the main material. The old church is to be pulled down, and rebuilt elsewhere as a parish hall and Bible Class hall. So far all the money needed is not to hand, but the community is pressing on with the work, hoping that more money will be found as the building takes form and shape.

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William N. Gray, captain of the Maori team, played as a five-eighths in all the tests between All Blacks and Springboks. During a heavy football season he was always a model of fitness and determination. He works with the Rotorua office of the Department of Maori Affairs. (Crown Studios Photograph)