MAORI VILLAGE IS
Among a number of small Maori villages in the Auckland Province that are rapidly developing into modern settlements on the lines of the Orakei and Panmure housing estates is IHUMATAO.
Less than five years ago this village, or as it is commonly called, pa, consisted of several substandard weatherboard houses lying along the banks of an unhealthy tidal creek in a market gardening zone four miles south of Onehunga.
Considered a potential slum area by both the Manukau County Council and Maori people of the pa itself, application was made to the Department of Maori Affairs for individual housing loans.
On these being granted, section clearing, demolition and building was begun almost immediately with the result that there are at present fourteen new semi-detached houses in the village with others planned for construction in the next twelve months.
The building of new houses, of course, is not the only aim of the Ihumatao Maori people; also scheduled for construction is a new meeting house to replace the present wooden building that has served as a picture theatre and dance hall for the past ten years.
Impressed by all this constructive activity in the pa, the Manukau County Council also decided to subscribe to the project, that is, lay down new approach roads and make arrangements for the community to be conected with the Auckland Electric Power Supply.
Which brings us to the people of the village themselves.
With a population of 91 adults and 100 children, Ihumatao as a Maori settlement goes back to pre-European times. According to Mr W. Walker the tribe that occupied this part of the Manukau Harbour was the Ngatiwhatua, who were replaced by the present people, who came from the Waikato, in the early fifties.
When the second Maori war broke out in Taranaki the Ihumatao Maoris made their way to the Waikato and remained there until war's end.
On returning they quickly settled down again to farming and working occasionally for local pakeha farmers and, later, Chinese market gardeners; occupations which the majority of men in the village continue to pursue right up till today. But naturally there are exceptions; among them Mr Sonny Wilson who is a school teacher in Rarotonga, and a number of men who are drivers and permanent employees in freezing works and on the Manukau Drainage Scheme which recently came into operation.
Once in a while there's a wedding or two in the village: at the beginning of December last year Tahi Tumai and Helen Oti (left) and Ray Bishop and Merle Matehaere (right) were married at the pa. W. A. Taylor, photograph
As for the children of the pa, their school records compare favourably with their pakeha mates: attendance is good; ability to join into group activities high and academic records generally average. In regard to sports, well, who has heard of a Maori boy who couldn't make a swift touch down—providing he's got the ball?
For the teenagers in the village, Saturday night is THE night: the night for rocking an' rolling; with a western movie or two thrown in to keep things going till midnight!
Like all responsible Maori communities, Ihumatao has its democratically appointed warden, whose job is to see that one or two fundamental rules relating to communal living are quietly observed by everyone in the pa. As evidence of the villagers' confidence in Mr R. Roberts they have elected him warden 10 times running! A fine record by any standards.