Which Way Are The Winds Blowing?
I suppose there were many more likely places where one would expect to find Maoris on the borough council than Pukekohe, the market-gardening centre near Auckland. For twenty-five years or more we have become accustomed to hearing unpleasant reports which generally reflected poor understanding between the various races living in the district, but particularly between Maoris and Pakehas. Yet in the elections of November last the people elected their first ever Maori borough councillor, Mr Bill Proctor, in a keenly fought election.
Successful gardeners on the Hill will tell you good crops don't just happen—the soil must be well prepared in advance. And better understanding between the people is being cultivated, apparently with good results. For more than a year before the elections I was living in Pukekohe, and I took a long, hard look at the situation. Part of the time I lived with Bill and his most hospitable family, where the distinction between boarder and guest scarcely exists, and I was well placed to observe the Maori life about me. Add to that my membership in the tribal committee and my teaching at the Maori School, and you probably feel that my observations were biased. You may be right. Anyway the following is a summary of my observations and impressions as a visitor to the town.
My first impression was also the most striking and lasting. As a newcomer I found board with a European family and went daily to the school and attended Maori gatherings. I found myself living in two scarcely compatible worlds. Passing from one to the other was like passing through a heavy door that closed firmly behind, cutting me off entirely from the other world. Europeans were curious to know what was going on among the Maoris, while Maoris, though always courteous, were somewhat reticent, perhaps suspicious, because my private life was entirely unknown to them. Such a state of affairs is not surprising when we remember that not so many years ago Maoris were confined to the gardens for employment and accommodation, and contact be-
tween the two races was very limited. This is no longer true because Maoris are no longer confined to the gardens for accommodation, and consequently their choice of occupation has been extended considerably.
Credit for this change must go to the housing scheme of the Maori Affairs Department. Over sixty Maori families live in good homes in residential areas of the borough, and the vicious circle has been broken. Contact on a wider and more informal basis is now possible; though a certain carry-over from the past persists, it gives every appearance of breaking down gradually. On the whole, Maoris have responded to their more fortunate circumstances very well and this is matched by an equally encouraging response from Pakehas. There have been some disappointments on both sides, but this really underlines the overall success of the scheme.
It is unfortunate that Europeans tend to accept their Maori neighbours in terms of their own values and attitudes, and therefore miss the peculiar quality of Maori values which have their own virtues. One imagines this type of integration as being a two-way affair but to date the effort has come entirely from the Maoris.
A case in point is the tangi. There are no facilities in the town for the holding of tangis, and the people have resorted to holding them in their private homes. Instead of appreciating the difficulties of the bereaved relatives, and recognising the virtues of the tangi, Europeans generally complain of the nuisance they cause. I attended many tangis in Pukekohe but only rarely did I see other Europeans present.
‘Equality’ Not Enough
This is a comment on the peculiar nature of the relations between the races in New Zealand, and can perhaps be traced back to the school. New Zealanders are brought up to the ideal of equality, but the special feature of equality is that it applies at the individual level, and is incapable of reconciling cultural differences. No differences are made between Maoris and Pakehas at school, which aims to fit the pupils into the European life of the community, when Maoris reject Pakeha values in preference to their own, (‘going back to the pa’) they are regarded by Europeans as having failed the test of equality.
Nevertheless the emphasis nowadays is on common interests and co-operation in joint enterprises, instead of on the differences dividing the people. One interesting thing about this is that it has come from the top, from prominent Pakehas and Maoris, rather than a movement from the bottom to the top. In other words, co-operation is not being established nearly so readily between householders and neighbours. This is why the town can boast a Maori borough councillor despite the rather feeble communication at the individual level.
Maori leaders have lost little time grasping the opportunities that have come their way, and such positive action is now paying dividends. I was present when the Mayor, Mr S. C. Childs, sought the co-operation of Maoris in the borough Jubilee Queen Carnival last year. The Maoris responded by sponsoring their own Queen, and raised over £1,800 to take second place in the four-cornered contest. These results were very gratifying to all concerned. The Pakeha response was quick and equally effective, in assisting the tribal committee to organise an Education Foundation appeal.
Behind these developments, and in a way
at the very heart of them, stands Bill Proctor, a man of great energy and vision, leading the people to a more respected place in the community. Outspoken to the point of bluntness, he is not easily turned aside from a task once he sets his mind to it. Early in 1962 Bill initiated the establishment of a Credit Union for the benefit of the Maoris of the district. To save it from the fate of many similar enterprises undertaken by Maoris, he was careful to ensure that it was properly constituted, and enlisted the aid of several professional Europeans to supervise the running of the Union. The Credit Union is a positive approach to the problem of Maori credit, and a project of real promise.
The mixed Maori population of Pukekohe have given themselves a name—‘Nga Hau E Wha’ (The Four Winds)—which expresses their varied backgrounds. The Four Winds of Maoridom appear to have been caught in the stronger current of change, and it is worth-while considering the direction in which they are blowing.
A group well-known in the Bay of Plenty, Wairoa and Auckland districts as the Maori Presbyterian Missions, has been working in Wellington for the past six months. The group meets at an old manse in Thorndon under the direction of the Reverend Tom Hawea, who has with him Miss Mary Kahukura, the first Maori Presbyterian deaconess to be ordained to the Maori Synod of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand. Their work is to help young Maoris with housing and other problems met when they first came into the city, and this will later include hostel visits, and work with borstals, prisons and hospitals.
Miss Kahukura's experience before being ordained included work as a ‘trammie’ in Auckland and as a worker in munition factories, hospitals and institutions. Before being ordained at St. James' church, Newtown, on November 14, she spent three years at the Maori Theological College, Whakatane, and eight months at the Deaconess College, Dunedin.
She was brought up by Miss I. D. Paulger, who was in charge of mission work at Maungapohatu for 23 years before retiring to Brikenhead, Auckland, where she now lives.
Tragic Bus Accident
Just as ‘Te Ao Hou’ was going to press, word came of the tragic bus accident in which fifteen Maoris, returning from the Waitangi celebrations, lost their lives, and twenty more were injured. It was the worst road accident in New Zealand history.
Ten of the victims came from Reweti Pa, near Helensville; four were from the Onehunga district, and one was from Napier. Their names are: Mr Peter Tapene, aged about 61, of Onehunga; Mr Eddie Porter (Eriata Uruamo), aged 78, of Reweti; Mrs Molly Povey, aged about 48, of Reweti; Mr Karaka (or Clark) Wiapo, aged 68, of Helensville; Mrs Miri Nathan, aged about 55, of Reweti; Mrs Emma Nielson, of Napier; Mrs Beryl Abraham, aged about 78, of Helensville; Mrs Colleen Margaret Sheffield, aged 41, South End, Helensville; Mrs Dolly Bidois, about 48, of Te Pua, Helensville; Mrs Leuia Kidwell, of Reweti, and her daughter, Miss Celia Kidwell, aged 17, of Reweti; Mr Ben Kingi, about 50, of Woodhill, Helensville; Mrs Maringi Kaa, Crawford Avenue, Mangere; the Rev. Ropata Pouaka, aged 63, of Onehunga; Mr Steve Nathan, aged 69, of Te Papapa.
Mr Karaka (Clark) Wiapo, of Helensville, was an elder in the district. Mr Wiapo, a former New Zealand Maori Rugby representative, had been presented to the Queen at Waitangi the day before.
Mrs Colleen M. Sheffield was the wife of Mr E. D. B. Sheffield, a farmer of South End, Helensville. She had just completed a history of the Helensville district to be published to coincide with the Helensville centennial celebrations this month. She contributed articles and poetry to ‘Te Ao Hou’ for many years; a long article by her, ‘Te Taou and the Sandhills’, appeared in our last September issue.
Mr Peter Tapene, of Onehunga, was Chairman of the Onehunga-Mangere Maori Tribal Committee and a member of the National Council of Tribal Committees. He was also a co-chairman of the Maori Education Foundation in Onehunga, and last year he topped the poll in the Onehunga Borough Council election.
Haere ra e nga Rangatira:
Haere ki o koutou tupuna matua kua rupeke ki te po.