THE MAORI PEOPLE OF WELLINGTON (continued from page 25)
Maori women serve on neighbourhood projects such as the free kindergarten at Naenae; they are members of young wives' groups; their children attend local Sunday schools. In the Waiwhetu community the people insist on a separate Maori Sunday School and take little part in the P.T.A. or the Free Kindergarten.
In the mixed communities pakehas baby-sit for Maoris and vice-versa, but in a Maori neighbourhood generally children and all go out: babysitting is an institution with only a few. On an average I would say, from my observation, that Maori homes scattered about in the community at large are if anything better kept than the average home in a Maori neighbourhood. Therefore it would seem that, from the point of view of the desirability for greater respect and fuller participation in the life of the urban community as a whole, the policy of scattered Maori housing would be better than the other.
With improved housing and economic conditions, there is an increase in the group of Maoris who find adjustment easy. More and more of our unskilled labourers, are securing permanent homes in and around the city and as they grow domestic roots a change also occurs in their attitude towards their work.
The “Will-o-the-Wisp” type of existence is replaced by a more stable one, leading to change in behaviour patterns and social habits.
One of the beneficial results is the wider and more spontaneous acceptance by the pakeha of his Maori neighbour as an integral part of his community. A fundamental of good social progress is the sense of belonging to a community, and to reach this there must be a free play of inter-action. The participation of Maori mothers in community projects and the exchange of baby-sitting favours, has already been mentioned, there is also now a much stronger tendency than before to visit each other's homes. Pakeha participation in things Maori at the community level can be gauged by two events, at least, which have involved direct Maori interests. First is the ever increasing numbers of pakeha participants in the activities of the Ngati Poneke Club: on an ordinary club night the numbers of regular pakeha visitors as spectator participants increase, and from these visitors have been enrolled several active members.
The second thing of a purely Maori nature, not as romantic as the club but even more vital to a Maori community, was a very large canvass arranged, organised and operated by pakehas in Lower Hutt for the meeting house at Waiwhetu. Over £6,000 was raised in a week by these pakehas, and what is just as significant is the fact that that money was raised not only by them, but from other pakehas.
Such inter-action is taking place at the personal level, the group level and the community level. Although it is not yet extensive enough, such interaction as has taken place indicates that there is a latent widespread acceptance of the Maori, not so much as a Maori, but more as an ordinary member of the community.
Another important field in the social development of the urban Maori is participation in recreational activities: dances and other festive gatherings.
At nearly every Maori wedding and all pakeha weddings of mutual interest, there is a joint sharing of joy. Of weddings it is interesting to note that of the marriages performed by me over the last twelve months 50% exactly have been mixed marriages. I have attended other mixed marriages performed this year by pakeha clergy who happen to be the vicar of the pakeha bride or bridegroom. At all funerals conducted by myself there has been a deep and joint sharing of sorrow. So it would seem that for Wellington-Lower Hutt at least, the tendency is towards more mixed marriages, and much wider and freer social inter-action.
In this urban situation, the religious needs of the Maori are adequately supplied by some churches and not by others.
Besides myself, the Roman Catholics have a permanent priest, and use Ngati-Poneke once a month. The Ratana also have monthly services there. The Latter Day Saints have at least six men in the area which constitutes my Pastorate.
Church attendance comparatively is poor. An interesting development over the last two years is the increase in the number of Maori families who have affiliated with a local parish church after Maori arts and crafts were introduced there as a social activity. It all started with the sending of the children to the local Sunday school.
It is my opinion that where this tendency exists it should be allowed to continue or even encouraged, for the greater the sharing within the community, the more successful will be the integration and the less will be the frustrations and tensions.
The development in the lives of the urban Maori of the Wellington-Lower Hutt area has been phenomenal, and shows every sign of continuing at an increased rate. However, this progress necessarily involves urbanisation and may give full concern to those who insist on keeping Maori culture pure and Maoritanga alive as a separate social characteristic. Some, however, could say that the essentials of Maoritanga can indeed survive in the cities, but only if most of what remains to us now finds a new setting in the world of the pakeha of which we must become part, if not by design then certainly by the continuing force of circumstance.