In the Smallest Clubhouse
of New Zealand
A misty cold gripped the deserted streets and casual temporary houses of Mangakino; it was early evening and only the central block of shops was still alight, with a few well-wrapped customers doing late shopping while a warm buzzing cackle welled up from the largest building. This must be the hotel, we thought, and we started walking round the building, but there was no trace of a lounge, or a dining room or a bathroom. By the bar entrance stood a little Maori boy with bare feet on the cold pavement. He watched us with intense interest; we and he had something in common, he must have sensed the lack of a warm home, somewhere to go inside. I asked him:
—Where is the hotel? and he said, There is no hotel here, only a pub.
—Where can we have a meal?
—At the piecart. You turn to the right until you get at the back of the shopping block and then you turn to the left again and then to the right and then it is in front of you.
Nothing could have been more precise than his description, but I can never understand directions the first time. When he saw me looking puzzled, he offered at once to take us there; he seemed very happy to be able to take three strangers to the piecart. He opened the door —Look, there it is. We were in a small temporary building with some forms and trestles, and the boy stood by the doorway, eyeing us full of expectation. A tip perhaps? No, it did not look like that; he was wondering what one does
with three homeless ones after one has brought them to the piecart. But he could think of nothing and before we could say anything except thank you he had gone.
—You have to wait until after six, we were told by the lady behind the piecart counter, because the cook is still in the hotel (meaning the pub).
—Do you know that boy?
—Oh yes, I know him well; he is always in here. He comes to keep out of the cold. I give him a cup of tea sometimes and a hot dog. He gave me the most horrible shock one day; I still shudder when I think of it. I asked him, Has your mother got no fire going for you at home? and he looked at me, not sadly, but just a little puzzled and said I have no mother. He has now gone back to the pub door to wait for his father.
His father cannot have been very interested in him for after six, when we were at our steaming plate of steak and eggs, the boy came back alone, and sat down on a chair against the wall, away from the trestles where we ate, just by himself, looking at all the men having their meal. He liked being with people, and he particularly liked sitting with his bare feet right next to the radiator. He was chewing a hot dog.
So that was the first thing we saw in Mangakino, the beer and the loneliness. As we clin into the car the boy eyed us with something that was almost love.
That evening, as we were being entertained by the Tuhoe Social and Welfare Club, I could not forget the child. I met the leaders of the club, Wari Ward, Mac Moses and Bill Waiwai, all of them men who have given up almost their entire lives, to social work, organising clubs helping people who are in difficulties, teaching music and Maori culture, to bring light and life into the community around them. Such people exist in most communities, although these men had more original minds than many, and when they come to a place like Mangakino, the atmosphere of beer and loneliness pains them particularly and they cannot help themselves, they must do something about it. Why does this misery of the others worry them so much? Why do they not happily stay with their families or amuse themselves in a small enlightened clique?
That is a deep question which it is baffling to answer.
Something was written about the Tuhoe club in issue 13 of Te Ao Hou. That story was
Darts is one of the social activities at Mangakino in which Tuhoe club members take full part. Here are Mac Moses (left) and Bill Waiwai (right) taking their turn. (Photo: J. Fun)
After a year when we visited the club, none of the original enthusiasm had gone; tribal committee and wardens were very confident about the success of allowing moderate drinking during some of their club nights. They had managed to cope with the very few who had broken the club rules. Te Wiremu Waiwai, the warden, and a foreman rigger by trade, explained that in his view people have to be educated in proper drinking habits. In matters of drink, education is as necessary as in other things. When people see civilised drinking and a good standard of social life at the club, it inspires them to live up to that standard always.
Many Forms of Music
Various speakers stood up that evening to describe the club's educational activities. They were so many that it seemed incredible for a group of men and women on a public works project to attempt such a programme. Of the European fields of knowledge, the club concentrates on community singing, band music and dressmaking. People are taught to read music according to the solfa scale. On the Maori side, there are now not only action songs and hakas, but also pao and patere; they play stick games; they have learnt the proper way of making piupiu and taniko.
Where do they get their lecturing staff from? They hardly go outside their own circle but everyone tells the others what he knows. They are always looking round for people with talents; for instance, Mardi Taipeti had learned taniko at Turakina Girls College; so she was asked to be teacher. Taniko became part of the club programme. Mr Wari Ward, the chairman, learned music when he worked at the office at Ratana Pa (a fellow worker was learning music, and he followed his example) and led a choir and a string band at Ratana. He now teaches part singing at Mangakino. Mac Moses, who like Bill Waiwai is a foreman rigger, was taught the saxophone and clarinet from some Englishmen at the Tuai hydro settlement when he was very young; he has been working in music ever since, leading dance bands at Waikaremoana where his home is and elsewhere. Two of the Aotearoa Quartet now touring England were first trained by Mr Moses. At Mangakino he continues doing what he has always done: encouraging some of the boys to play instruments, and going to dances to play. Mr Waiwai's specialty on the other hand are the Maori arts and crafts.
Yet the club invited experts where needed.
New Hostel for Tauranga
Some three years ago the old Maori hostel in Tauranga which has been in existence since the ‘eighties of last century was condemned by the Health Department. For many years it had been used as sleeping quarters by the residents of Motiti Island and, on occasion, by the Maoris of Matakana Island or from the surrounding district who might require to stay overnight in Tauranga. However, it had become very dilapidated and, being in the main street, it really was an eyesore.
Several meetings of interested bodies were called to form an organisation to raise funds to replace the buildings and, at last, the project got under way. Members of the Maori Affairs Department, representatives of the Maori Women's Welfare League, a representative from Maori Schools, two nominees from Tauranga
Rotary Club, and delegates from all the surrounding marae formed an executive and the project was in hand by October, 1954. Mr. I. Tangitu, Welfare Officer, was appointed chairman, Mr F. M. Pinfold of Papamoa Maori School organiser, and Mr W. Ohia secretary.
The success which has crowned the efforts of this committee has resulted not only from this wide representation but also from the unity engendered thereby. In the fifteen months of activity the Appeal Committee has raised a fund of about £3,700. It is hoped that this money with government subsidy, along with monies from the sale of the old property, will provide a hostel and community centre worthy of the town and of inestimable value to the Maori people whom it is to serve, as well as a home from which those people may entertain their friends both Maori and pakeha.
Money was raised by Maori entertainment for the public and a carnival of some kind among the Maori community. There were, of course also minor activities.
The 1954–55 season consisted of a series of five concerts in the Tauranga Town Hall, a baby contest and a concluding Maori Cultural Championship day at the soundshell in Memorial Park. This entailed the formation of concert groups throughout the whole district and the practice of the Maori cultural arts. In the concert programmes it was laid down as policy that the items be genuine Maori. Another policy matter having a material influence on success was that admission charges be kept as low as possible. Consequently on practically all occasions two shillings was the charge. That first campaign netted aproximately £2000.
This 1955–56 season was organised on a similar policy except that a Queen Carnival was substituted for the baby contest. Entries to these contests were made by practically all the surrounding Maori districts: from Matakana Island, Judea, Wairoa, Bethlehem, Cambridge Road, Te Puna, Maungatapu, Papamoa, and Matapihi. Nett takings reached £1700. In each year the All-Maori Championships Day, being also the concluding day of the contest, brought in about £1100 of the total. Much planning was put in by the central committee but the success would never have been attained without the wholehearted co-operation of the local committees behind each candidate.
The fact that true Maori entertainment is appreciated by the general public was shown by attendances. Never was there less than a packed house at entertainments and, on several occasions, many people were unable to gain admission. As can be imagined, such conditions brought about an enthusiasm, both among performers and audience, which carried the show with it. With each succeeding concert, performing groups improved until, finally, the standard of performance and the techniques were excellent.
The highlight of those concerts occurred when it was decided to incorporate the various items into a Maori opera. Mr J. Kohu of the Judea group did this integration of items and an opera, Te Iwi Maori, was produced in the open-air at the Tauranga Sound-shell. Unfortunately weather conditions were bad, but there was a large audience nevertheless. It was the story, simply, yet proudly done in song and action, of the Maori race from their home in Hawaiki to Aotearoa of today. It concluded with the award to Maharaia Winiata, whose home town is Tauranga, of his Doctorate in Philosophy.
The All-Maori Day which concluded each season's activities, and at which the cultural championships were held, was something unique, lasting from eleven in the morning until midnight. To keep entertainment going for that length of time was no mean feat, but its very difficulty determed the spirit of all that it should be done. And it was done! The outstanding features of that day were the championships for which nearly all groups entered, and a Maori beauty contest.
Comprising the championships were six classes: Waiata Maori (with and without action), patere Maori, himene Maori, combined poi, and haka. In addition there were competitions in stick-games, hand-games, whiu, and various forms of the poi. The karanga and powhiri ceremony was also performed to welcome the local Mayor (Mr L. R. Wilkinson) and the local Member of Parliament (Mr G. A. Walsh). That the final night was marred by torrential rain, putting the park under water, was unfortunate. Nevertheless about a thousand people braved the weather to participate in an outstanding entertainment which concluded with a colourful Hawaiian crowning ceremony.
The Maori beauty contest was something quite different from accepted beauty contests. The girls and young ladies appeared, not in bathing costumes, but in ceremonial Maori dress. Treasured articles of Maori clothing and personal adornment which had not seen the light of day since yesteryear were proudly paraded with the poise and dignity of the kui. The winner, besides annexing a monetary prize, was invested with a sash inscribed: Te Tamahine o te Iwi; Tauranga, 1956.
As has been said the financial result has been very satisfactory and shortly the Maori people of Tauranga will have a building which will cater not only for their material wants but which will act as a rallying point for their cultural needs. Other values also have stemmed from these activities. They have learned the value of united action; by the inclusion of pakeha members in their committee both races have exemplified racial co-operation. This goes also in regard to the audiences; pakehas have shown their appreci-