This Panmure home is typical of the low-cost high-quality housing built by the Department of Maori Affairs. Last year 129 such houses were built in the Auckland metropolitan area and although such an effort cannot be the complete solution to the problem, the department's scheme produces more good housing for the Auckland Maori than all other sources combined.
HOUSING: AN URGENT PROBLEM
The most urgent problem facing the Maori people is that of housing. Better housing is the solution for most of their social evils. Nowhere is the need for adequate housing more apparent than in Auckland, the main centre of the urban Maori population.
Houses are less easy to obtain in urban areas than they are in the country districts. Consequently, pakeha landlords with homes to let are inclined to give preference to pakehas and to refuse accommodation to Maoris. Many of these landlords feel that the Maori is not as capable as the pakeha in looking after rented premises, basing their opinions on the many dilapidated Maoris homes they see in some localities. This tendency to discriminate against coloured people and to generalise unduly on questions of Maori behaviour is a contradiction of the proud claim of New Zealanders that Maori and pakeha are equal.
The prejudices against Maoris are more apparent in Auckland than elsewhere. Early in the process of migration of the Maori from the country to the town there was a determination by many pakehas to discourage the movement. They insisted that the Maori was better off in the country where he could pursue his communal habits and cultural interests than he would be in the city. But this attitude was really prompted by the feeling that the Maori, with different social and cultural standards, would become a problem in a closely-settled and essentially European community.
It is significant that fewer objections to the presence of Maoris in the city have been heard in recent years. There has been a greater will-
The Auckland branch of the Department of Maori Affairs has a staff of about seventy-five. The head of the branch, Mr A. E. Edwards (left), was born in Thames in 1901, and spent his entire working life in the public service in Auckland. Apart from the housing and welfare of the Auckland Maori, the branch has a variety of responsibilities: land development operations throughout the Waikato, Maniapoto and Hauraki districts, service to 23,500 beneficiaries of the Maori Trustee, and a variety of business arising out of Maori land titles. Big jobs over the last year were the preliminaries of setting up the Otakanini incorporation near Auckland, and the incorporation of owners of the Taharoa ironsands. Mr Edwards and his staff have managed to keep their housing costs right down (about £2300 for houses such as illustrated on these pages) and manage to pick up a steady flow of good flat well-drained sections in Auckland suburbs for an average of £575 (top limit £700).
Built by the Department of Maori Affairs, this home (belonging to Mr and Mrs R. Hotu) is typical of Maori housing in Hendon Street. See next page.
As a result of this changed attitude more Maoris are succeeding in making homes in the better suburbs of Auckland instead of being confined to depressed areas like Freeman's Bay. The “pepper-potting policy” of distributing indiivdual Maori homes among those of Europeans has been successfuly pursued by the Maori Affairs Department. Not only has it stimulated self-reliance among the Maori occupants but also it has impressed on pakeha neighbours that their pre-conceived ideas about Maori attitudes have not always been correct.
SUCCESS OF HOUSING SCHEMES
Most of the Maori families settled in this way have been those who have shown that they are able to measure up to the required living standards in a predominantly pakeha community.
From all accounts, 90 per cent of the Maori families in Auckland have successfully adapted themselves to their new situation. But it is still possible to pick a Maori home here and there among those of Europeans, by features other than the kumara or maize which grows in every well-kept Maori garden. In some of these cases of neglect there is no garden, the section is overgrown, and the paint has peeled off the houses. While these sort of homes are relatively fewer than they used to be they are still numerous enough to bring discredit on the people living in the locality.
A more healthy sign in the process of Maori adjustment to life in Auckland is the number of complaints which the welfare officers receive from Maori householders about the behaviour of their own people. While complaints generally are fewer the fact that more Maoris are making them suggests that they are keenly alive to their responsibilities and determind that their good name will not be taken away from them by their own people who would cast a slur on the race. The sort of complaints received are about people who illtreat their homes, create a nuisance in the neighbourhood, or do not pay their way.
It has been shown by a study of the relationship between Maori and pakeha residents in a community that the Maori does not have to imitate the pakeha to be a good citizen. On the contrary, he derives more respect by behaving like a good Maori. Pekeha neighbours have remarked on the fact that Maori families have their traditional ways which in no way conflict with those of the pakeha and in many cases engender interest and impart character to a settlement. Most of the conduct which gives rise to objections is not typical of Maori traditional life but has been inherited from the pakeha.
The way the Maori has fitted into the Auckland community has exploded to some extent the argument that the Maori is a communal being. Rather has it emphasised that he is a highly adaptable person. While he is capable of leading an individualistic life he is also able to depart from it for a time and seek satisfaction in those communal institutions which are so much a part of his tradition. In order to lead a balanced and orderly life the city dweller needs ready access to the essential features of the two worlds in which he is required to live. One of the deficiencies in Auckland is an adequate community centre, or, preferably, more than one community centre, catering for all the Maoris and where Maori and pakeha can meet in a predominantly Maori environment.