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No. 42 (March 1963)
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N.Z. Herald Photo

Haka Party from Auckland

As well as the Waihirere Club, a party of performers from Auckland, Ngati Akarana, took part in the Waitangi Celebrations; like Waihirere, they represented all the tribes of New Zealand.

This photograph of Lt. Col. Te Arapeta Marukitipua Awatere, who led the Auckland group, was taken during a rehearsal. Mr Awatere, who was born at Tuparoa near Ruatoria, is well known as a prominent Maori leader in Auckland, who combines great drive and enthusiasm with a deep understanding of Maoritanga. He is District Welfare Officer in the Maori Affairs Department in Auckland, and has been with the Department, in many different parts of the North Island, for very many years.

At the beginning of the last war Mr Awatere enlisted as a private in the Second Maori Battalion. He served with distinction in Europe and the Middle East, and was speedily promoted to the rank of Captain. He was twice wounded, won the M.C. at Mareth (Tunis) and the D.S.O. at Faenza (Italy), and in 1944, as a Lieutenant Colonel, he became the Commanding Officer of the Battalion.

In the last Municipal elections Mr Awatere was elected to the Auckland City Council, being the first Maori ever to become a City Councillor in Auckland.

People come back to New Zealand with some pretty odd stories at times.

We've just heard from three Maoris who all had the same experience in South Africa: the white citizens there thought that they, the Maoris that is, were Europeans.

Mr P. E. Morete, a Dunedin schoolteacher, was a bit apprehensive about race problems when he and two pakeha friends first decided to drive through South Africa. But during three days' travelling, staying at leading hotels and restaurants, they had no trouble at all. People told him that if he hadn't said he was a Maori, they wouldn't have realized it. When they did know, he got an even warmer welcome than his two pakeha friends.

Selwyn Wilson, the Northland artist whom we wrote about in our last issue, had the same thing happen to him. While travelling back to New Zealand through South Africa he decided to take the plunge by ignoring all ‘Europeans only’ signs, and says that ‘as a sort of challenge I went to shops, sections of the post-offices and public buildings which all had this sign in large letters. I was apparently unnoticed, or almost so, and was not turned out of any place. At that stage I had a considerable amount of sun-tan and did my ancestors reasonable justice. So I'm still pretty bewildered about the whole thing!’

And Mr Brownie Puriri, recently back from a world tour (see our last September issue) had the same experience with the many South Africans he met overseas. They told him that Maoris would be welcomed to South Africa in sporting teams, but that in any case, in South Africa Brownie would be taken to be a European. Brownie's comment to Te Ao Hou was that the South African idea of what a European looks like had, he gathered, been influenced by unacknowledged inter-racial marriages in the past.

‘“For your information,” they told me, “most of us have Hottentot great-grandmothers anyway, if we'd only admit it”.’

The whole thing's a puzzle, isn't it?