Maori Council Awaits Election Results
The term of office of the first New Zealand Maori Council is finished. It first met in June 1962, and has served for the initial period until the three-year term of office for all Maori Associations formed under the Maori Welfare Act comes into operation.
At the time of writing, full reports on the Maori Committee elections already held throughout the country had not reached the Council's office in Wellington. It was known, however, that several members of the present Council would be retiring and that a number of new faces can be expected when the next meeting is held. This will probably be in late May or early June.
Reports of the elections have varied. In some instances there have been only the few faithful members ready to carry on with the task. In other districts the election meetings have been quite lively and more people than ever are taking an interest in the work of the Maori Committees. Selection of delegates to Executives, to District Councils and to the New Zealand Council will follow and the whole process should be complete by the end of May.
Council Meets the Rotorua People
In line with its policy of having at least one meeting a year in the districts, the Council gathered at Wahiao, Whakarewarewa, over the weekend of March 7th and 8th. This was an opportunity to show the people what had been done since the Council was formed, to answer questions and to listen to many matters on which the Council's views were sought.
Much appreciation was expressed by visitors
for the way in which they were looked after by their hosts. It seemed as if all who attended the meeting agreed that they knew a lot more about the Council and realised that it deserved the support of Maoris everywhere.
A Report on the Council's Activities
Describing the formation of the Council, the President, Sir Turi Carroll, said that it was appropriate that the last meeting of this first Council should be held in Rotorua. It was largely due to the determination and persistence of certain prominent Rotorua leaders, particularly Major Vercoe and Mr Anaru, that the Council came into existence.
After the first District Councils, called together in 1953, were allowed to go into recess, members of the Wai-Ariki Council realised the need for the completion of the organisation that included only Tribal Committees and Executives. The Wai-Ariki Council met again in 1958 and called a conference of other District Councils in October, 1959, when it was resolved to press for the formation of a New Zealand Maori Council. The Chairman of that meeting was the late Major Vercoe.
Sir Turi also said that a general survey of the Council's work showed that it had fulfilled an important function in representing Maori views and in opening the way for fuller consultation between the government and the people. At first the Council seemed to have too much thrust upon it and not enough time to take matters on to the maraes where the opinions of all the people could be gathered. ‘We prefer’, said Sir Turi, ‘that all our Maori Associations, right down to individual Maori Committees, should be able to express their views on all matters coming before the Council so that our decision will truly reflect Maori opinion’.
Important Work of Maori Committees
The Council's report emphasised the importance of the work done by Maori Committees. There is a need to do everything possible to make their work as successful and effective as possible. To this end, data papers have been sent to Committees in an effort to get their views on particular topics. Committee members themselves have the opportunity to pass remits on the Council through their Executives and District Councils. A Newsletter is now going out every month and any Committee that is not receiving a copy should write to the Council's Secretary at Box 5195, Wellington.
For some time the Council has been anxious about the position of Welfare Officers who have done so much in the past to make the work of Tribal Committees more effective. At the Rotorua meeting the Secretary for Maori Affairs, who was one of our guests, said that Welfare Officers were being advised to work closely with our Committees.
In the last issue of ‘Te Ao Hou’ there was an account of the seminar on Maori social progress organised by the Council. A large part of the Rotorua meeting was taken up with discussions on the 49 recommendations that the seminar had sent on to the Council. These ranged over topics of education, vocational guidance, housing, research, migration to the cities and social problems of one sort and another. On many of these points the Council is now taking action to see if conditions for our people can be improved.
The great need now is for support from the people, particularly financial support, without which all the work of the Council will come to a halt. As Sir Turi said, ‘We believe that the existence of the Council opens up new opportunities to our people to take control of their own destiny and we look to Maoris everywhere to support the Council in its efforts. If we have this support, there is no end to the good we can do for you and for our country.’