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No. 42 (March 1963)
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As always in ‘Te Ao Hou’, the views expressed in this article are those of the author alone. And as always, we hope that you will write to let us know whether or not you agree with him.

FOUR QUESTIONS

There she goes, stilting along like a rare bird, pretty and strange, a little sad maybe—not a girl and not a woman wholly.

You wonder about her. You wonder about all the eighteen-year-old girls. How are they making out you wonder, down there in Eighteen, the country you left so long ago. Is the sun as bright, is life as much fun—surely there are no worries.

A while ago I told a girl of this age (call her Mary or Pat, or Margaret), I was writing for ‘Te Ao Hou’ and that maybe she would tell me what to say. She thought of a lot of things, why it was that her parents were so old fashioned, and didn't want her to have fun … all that jazz. I tried to defend us, the oldsters, but, you know, there were some questions that were pretty hard. Perhaps we haven't explained ourselves too clearly to the young. Maybe they have a right to make us account for our actions.

We got down to four questions in the end. Here they are with my answers. How would you answer?

Question 1

There's a lot of trouble in the world … I've read about the fighting in India and the Cuban thing, I read about people trying to stop James Meredith going to the University of Mississippi … how did we get into this mess. H bomb tests, the cold war, race discrimination. What sort of future have we got? Who would want to have children to grow up in the world the way it is now …

A. All right—the only answer I've got is

‘If you think you can do better, have a shot!’ But it isn't a good answer. Here in New Zealand we are a long way from trouble—at the moment. But how long have we got … well the cold war isn't the best but we've got to live with it, you can't hide in a shelter in case there's a war—you can hate injustice. violence, lies … Listen honey why don't we just skip this one, I don't have an answer on the cold war—what happened to Meredith was a crime but, chalk it up, the U.S. Government was prepared to send an Army to see that he got his rights, that the law was upheld. Would we do so much? I wonder.

Question 2

This is tied up with the one before I suppose. Sometimes people are rude to my mother, I'm sure that it's because they think she's just an old Maori. Mum says that if it happens to me I have to take it—I don't see why.

A. Your mother has good manners. Some other people haven't. Maybe the shop assistant's corns were hurting. If you are sure that an assistant is treating you badly on account of your being a Maori, then you have a right to complain, but not to the assistant—find the floor manager. Be dead sure though; a nice smile and a polite request will usually win the sourest shop assistant. Try these first.

Perhaps, however, your mother means that you have to be able to take it, that you mustn't let them hit you where you live. She's right. You will have to put up with a lot of this—the Nazis, like the poor are always with us.

Question 3

Another thing, my mother is always critical of any pakeha boyfriends I have. Why can't I go round with a Maori, she says. Why the objection?

A. Search me. This looks like question 2 the other way round (personally I've always thought your boyfriends a dopey lot, but that's

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your business). Here are some suggestions, but you should have thought these out for yourself.

1

If your boyfriend goes out of his way to be polite to your mother, she will probably end up liking him. Does he give your mother the consideration he would give to his own?

2

She probably feels surer of her ground with Maoris.

3

It could be that she sees you moving into a world where you might be ashamed of her.

4

Boy friends have a way of becoming husbands—not everyone welcomes a Maori wife.

O.K., so your mother is a silly old woman. So you should be a silly young one? Think your way through and take your time. Your mother's fears and doubts are real to her—you must convince her that she has nothing to worry about.

Question 4

I want to board in town instead of travelling in daily but I can't get a place to stay, not anywhere that's any good anyway. People don't give you a chance, it's always—‘Sorry, but …’

A. I know. The whole thing is stupid, humiliating, ugly, a stinking piece of hypocrisy. Some Maoris I grant have made it tough for the others, but that's no excuse for the daily insults which they are supposed to take. I wish that Maoris could get their heads together with pakehas of good will and experience to get some sort of accommodation bureau going.

Next time it happens just remember that there is no colour bar in New Zealand … they just don't like the colour of your skin.

Well there you are. Four questions. How do we answer them, you and I.

How do we answer the young?

How do you answer them?

Four thousand people gathered at the Maketu marae, Kawhia, on Christmas Day for the dedication of a handsome, fully carved new meeting house. The Maketu marae is situated on the site of the mooring place of the Tainui canoe, and the meeting house, named Auau-ki-te-rangi, commemorates the history of Tainui ancestors.

It is valued at more than £25,000, and is the result of 15 years' planning and labour. The opening ceremony was performed by King Koroki.

Our photo shows an impromptu action song around a fire in the evening.