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No. 18 (May 1957)
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From Tamaki Makaurau

(1) A Site for Auckland Marae

Initiative, enterprise, and sheer determination are having their reward for the Maori people in Auckland who are attempting to establish their own marae. For months past they have been facing disappointments, delays, and apparently insurmountable difficulties in bringing the scheme to fruition. Since a group of enthusiasts acquired the use of a piece of land at New Lynn the prospects of laying the foundations of a marae which will satisfy the cultural ideals of the Maori and gain the wholehearted support of the pakeha, seem to be brighter than ever.

Credit for the revived activity of the marae committee goes to the chairman of the Waitemata Tribal Executive, Dr Maharaia Winiata, the Dominion President of the Maori Women's Welfare League, Mrs Whina Cooper, and the Director of the Maori Academy of Arts and Crafts, Mr Henare Toka. They sought a way out of the dilemma which faced the committee when consideration of two possible sites—at Orakei and next to the Community Centre in Freeman's Bay—suddenly had to be abandoned. They searched for and found a section at New Lynn.

This area of 4 ½ acres in Golf Road is owned by a pakeha. As it was overgrown with weeds he was only too willing to let the Maori people use the ground for cropping while the committee negotiated with him to purchase it. A start was made in December with planting the land and already the occupiers have produce for sale to augment the marae funds. The kumeras grown here are competently judged to be among the best produced in the district.

Mrs Cooper and Mr Toka have since approached the Mayor of New Lynn, Mr Hugh Brown, with a view to obtaining the approval of the council of a marae on the site. An inspection by the Mayor with Dr M. Winiata and Mr T. P. Paikea. M.P., has led to the council sanctioning the scheme. It will tell members of the original deputation that it “welcomes them to the district and appreciates the good work they are doing to preserve the best in Maori culture.”

“It will be an investment by the committee”, said Dr Winiata, when announcing the appointment of a sub-committee to negotiate the purchase of the land. Consideration of it as the location of the future marae would come later.

Dr Winiata explained that the land on Orakei heights given to the Ngati Whatua by the Government in compensation for the loss of the old Orakei village site, was not considered suitable for a marae serving all the Auckland Maoris. It was only natural that parochial interests would intervene there as the Orakei Maoris considered the land to be essentially a replacement of the former traditional settlement and for the loss of which money could not be regarded as adequate compensation.

Furthermore, Dr Winiata explained, if the marae were established at Orakei, which the Ngati Whatua regarded as their own, it would be on a scale which would preclude the local inhabitants from performing their traditional obligations as hosts. Members of other tribes would not feel they could go there as freely as they would go to a marae which served in every way the interests of the Auckland Maoris as a whole. However, there was nothing to prevent the Orakei people establishing a smaller centre for their local needs.

Dr Winiata also said efforts to obtain the site adjoining the Community Centre had failed. The committee had hoped to secure this from the Government on a long-term lease, but it was informed that the Government and the City Council had other plans for it.

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The marae committee will be considering possible plans for the marae and meetinghouse which is expected to show the best aspects of traditional Maori life for the benefit of tourists and other Europeans, as well as serving the needs of the Maori people. A suggestion to develop housing in the vicinity has been made. If this comes about the council wants the owners to feature native trees and shrubs in their gardens. The authorities have gone into the question of roading costs in the event of a subdivision and have obtained a satisfactory offer on this point.

(2) Achievements in Maori Education

The Auckland Education Board has expressed publicly its determination to give Maori children in board schools the best possible education. This aim recognises the special needs of Maori children, conforms with the trend in modern education which is to concentrate on the needs of the individual child, and implies a policy of cultivating mutual respect and understanding between Maori and pakeha.

One of the main concerns of the board is that 12,000 Maori children in Maori schools under the Department are receiving an education designed for their needs, while 20,000 children in board schols are being denied this advantage. Already something has been achieved in a small way, but much more remains to be done.

Whatever personal views may be held on the future of the administration of Maori schools, no doubt was left in the minds of those who attended the last meeting of the board that it was aware of its responsibilities toward the large number of Maori children under its care.

Senior inspector of primary schools of the Auckland Education Board is Mr W. Parsonage, who is well-known to the Maori people as a former Senior Inspector of Maori schools.

The Board has appointed a special committee to deal with Maori education. Mr J. C. Henare of Motatau is the Maori representative on this committee. Two inspectors, Mr K. J. Hayr, in the eastern district, and Mr A. F. Budd in the western, have been instructed to take a special interest in the Maori children. Both inspectors have taught in Maori schools and Mr Budd was headmaster of several, including Te Kaha Maori District High School.

Mr Parsonage recalled that 32 board schools have between 26 and 50 per cent Maori pupils; 25 schools, 51 to 75 per cent; and seven, 76 to 100 per cent. He advised the board to concentrate its efforts on the 32 schools which contain mainly Maori pupils.

As well as insisting on the highest standards of personal cleanliness and tidiness, the board hopes to foster Maori history, arts and crafts, games, music, social organisations and the language in the schools. It also aims to give special instruction to Maoris in the English language.

Maori parents are urged to co-operate as closely with the board schools as they do with those run by the Department and every encouragement is to be given trained Maori teachers to take appointments under the board. Mr Parsonage considers it is essential for teachers to be sympathetic toward the Maori people and help them deal with various problems.

He sees in the work ahead of the board “one of the greatest challenges today” which he regards as an opportunity to show the rest of New Zealand what can be done in educating Maoris in board schools.

Some of the achievements were outlined by Mr Parsonage. He said a grant toward medical supplies at Towai had benefited the health of the children considerably. At Hikurangi the senior girls were given a special course in homecraft and Plunket work. Maori arts and crafts had been introduced at other schools. One difficulty here was that board schools did not always have people qualified for the work. However, the Maori people had co-operated by coming into the schools and teaching these things themselves. The same difficulty was encountered in teaching the Maori language, but, with the language compulsory in district high schools and Maoris entering the training colleges, there would be more instructors available to teach the language.

At Moerewa the emphasis was on teaching English. Great success was achieved in a few months in encouraging the children to take library books home and to look after them. Mr Parsonage said the good use which both parents and children made of the books was very pleasing.

CAVE ART SALVAGED

Some 25 slabs of rock, varying in size from 2ft to 6in in thickness have been cut by the Ministry of Works from a recess at the bottom of a cliff at the Waipapa State hydro project.

On them are primitive red and black Maori paintings. The slabs were crated and sent to the Auckland Museum.

The director, Dr Archey, has photos of the cliff recess before the slabs were cut out, and he will try to display the slabs as near as possible in their original order.

Experts are undecided about the paintings, and when they were done. They are in charcoal and red ochre. Some depict animals and tikis, others are just lines.