Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 18 (May 1957)
– 9 –
MAORI CULTURE:

And what about Maori culture? It is the department's stated aim ‘to help develop in the Maori an appreciation of the modern content of his own culture.’ The value of the culture itself would amply justify such a policy. However, from the social workers’ point of view, cultural appreciation is also desirable because people should not be in conflict wth their own racial background. The study of Maori culture gives not only pleasure but also security.

Maori welfare officers are the only large section of public servants who spend a good part of their time doing work with groups: 40% of their time is intended to be spent on this. Here the purpose is twofold; the preservation of Maori culture and the speeding up of social and economic progress. Special emphasis is placed on the formation and guidance of youth clubs, and tribal committees and executives and Maori women's welfare leagues are to get continued help in their work.

To succeed, such groups have to find a creative and satisfying job to do, and have to be given the knowledge to carry out that job. By group discussion and by short refresher courses where desired. Welfare is to encourage their progress.

Naturally, welfare officers could not do their job if they spent all their time with these groups. In the end, it is always the individual who has to be helped to build a house, place his boy in a trade, or send him to the university.

Nonetheless, the Welfare Division, under its new policy, should be able to do a good deal to ‘mobilise the leadership from within the Maori race itself’. Over the last ten years a huge tribal committee and league organisation involving several thousands of people has been set up and this organisation is inspired by fine ideals.

There is of course a point beyond which efficiency should not go in group organisations. That is the point where enthusiasm and drive are lost through a mere excess of new ideas. However, traditional Maori wisdom should be ample proof against such danger.