REVIVAL OF MAORI LEADERSHIP?
In many places a tribal committee meeting occurs only once a year; and even then they are only attended by the members and a few untiring old faithfuls.
Do tribal committees still have anything to offer to the Maori (apart from subsidies)? That depends very much on what programmes the committees have, what problems the community entrusts to them. If they did everything there is in the Act, they would be busy day and night. In many places, however, we get social progress from organizations other than the tribal committees and this of course is just as good.
However, tribal committees have been given a chance to liven up as a result of the recent meeting of Maori leaders in Wellington.
At this meeting, already widely reported in newspapers, Maori leaders and the Government agreed to set up a Dominion Maori Council of Tribal Executives. This would be in direct contact with Government on any matters the Maori people want to have discussed.
A law to be brought down this year would give this Dominion Council the same official status already enjoyed by the Committees and Executives.
From time to time delegates from tribal executives of a Maori land court district will meet together to discuss their ideas and problems. These delegates will form district councils. There have been district Maori councils since 1952, but these have not had legislative sanction and until recently only the Waiariki Council was really active. We may expect in future they will be active in all districts. They will be composed of elected delegates from the executives as in the past and although they will be fully independent in their work, they can get assistance from the district welfare officer in each district.
Decisions of the district councils will then be taken to the Dominion Council for discussion. The Council may then call upon the Maori people to do what is necessary, or it may approach the Government, at the highest level, for help. If successful, the Dominion Council will provide nation-wide Maori leadership, which it can exercise through its district councils and executives. If successful, therefore, the Dominion Council will have the effect of greatly livening up the work of the executives.
The idea of this national council was developed by a group of Maori leaders under the inspiration of Major Reiwhatu Vercoe. Plan and constitution gradually took shape in a series of meetings called by the Waiariki District Council. At the last of these meetings, at Rotorua, end 1960, the functions of the Council were set out more or less as follows:
to take an active interest in all matters pertaining to or affecting the wellbeing of the Maori.
to deliberate on such matters and to make representations to Government and other agencies.
to encourage the formation and active functioning of district councils and tribal executives and committees.
to promote fellowship and understanding between Maori and European.
to act as a responsible and representative mouth-piece of the Maori people in dealing with government, with national and public organizations and with individuals.
The Council is to consist of up to three members from each land court district. These will be elected by the district councils.
The leaders meeting at Wellington are therefore not necessarily the members of the District Council when established. They are people of note invited by Major Vercoe and his associates to help form the Council, but they will stand down when the time comes for proper elections at the various district council meetings.
The secretary of the provisional council is Mr Norman Perry, of Opotiki, who has wide experience in working with the Maori people. During the war he was Y.M.C.A. Field Secretary with the
Maori Battalion. After the war he was for a time District Maori Welfare Officer of the Rotorua-Bay of Plenty area. He was also secretary to Sir Apirana Ngata in connection with Whanau Apanui executive activities. Assistant secretary is Mr Claude Anaru, one time deputy-mayor of Rotorua and secretary of the Arawa Trust Board.
Other members of the provisional council, listed with the district they represent, are as follows:
Tokerau: Sam Maioha, Jack Rogers.
Auckland: Matiu Te Hau, Waaka Clark.
Waikato-Maniapoto: P. Katu, Ch. Davis.
Waiariki: Major Reiwhatu Vercoe, J. Boynton.
Tairawhiti: Arnold Reedy, Henry Ngata, Turi Carroll.
Ikaroa: Steve Watene, John Bennett, Rangi Tutaki.
Aotea: Pateriki Hura, Pei Jones.
South Island: McDonald, Joseph Karetai.
The Rt Rev. W. N. Panapa, Bishop of Aotearoa, was present during the meeting and pronounced the Benediction.
The provisional council dealt with one matter of particular substance during its first meeting at Wellington. This was the setting up of the Maori Education Foundation, a measure to provide more financial help for young Maoris who want to be educated for the skilled trades and professions. The form this Foundation is to take will become clearer once the Bill by which it is to be established comes before Parliament. Meanwhile, an indication was given in the Governor General's opening address to Parliament last June, in which Lord Cobham made the following announcement:
“My Government will establish a Maori Education Foundation, to be financed by an initial Government grant of £125,000 in inscribed stock and by private contributions.
“The object is to increase substantially the number of scholarships for post-primary and university education and to provide more vocational training.”
A number of Maori leaders (above) attend a private screening of the National Film Unit's picture ‘The Maori Today’. Unfortunately some delegates had already left Wellington the night after conference when the screening was held, so that they could not be photographed. The delegates and officials on this picture are, from left to right: Messrs William T. Ngata (Secretary to the Minister of Maori Affairs, Wellington); Claude Anaru (Asst. Secretary of the Provisional Council, Rotorua); Pateriki Hura (Taumarunui); Matiu Te Hau (Auckland); William Herewini (Controller of Maori Welfare, Wellington); Rt Rev. W. N. Panapa, Bishop of Aotearoa; Major Reiwhatu Vercoe (Chairman of Provisional Council, Rotorua); J. Boynton (Opotiki); M. te Rotohiko Jones (Liaison Officer, Minister of Maori Affairs); Rangi Tutaki (Hawkes Bay); John Bennett (Hawkes Bay); Arnold Reedy (East Coast); Norman Perry (Secretary of Provisional Council, Opotiki); Steve Watene (Wellington).
John Ashton, photograph
The provisional council was delighted with this offer from the Government. Several members immediately paid £20 out of their own pockets to join the Foundation. As in the case of the Dominion Council, members were given details of the legislation that was being drafted, and after study and discussion, leaders and Government agreed on the principles that would be followed. After the meeting, there was great satisfaction with what had been achieved.
* The Rt Rev. W. N. Panapa has written an article giving his private view of the Maori Education Foundation. See page eight.