Tamihana the King-Maker
‘Tamihana the King-maker’ is a valuable contribution to New Zealand literature, and all the fine things that have been said about the author, L. S. Rickard, are well deserved. Mr Rickard has been painstaking in the gathering of the material for his book, and in his writing he has made an excellent and scholarly job of it.
The Maori King Movement and the part Wiremu Tamihana played in it is well treated, and the author's statement that ‘The King certainly served as a rallying point for the disaffected, but his existence did not cause the wars,’(page 77) will be received by the Maori people with approval.
Governor Gore-Browne's actions, when compared with those of Wiremu Tamihana, do not show up in a good light. Likewise all those occupying responsible positions in the Government and the settlers who ‘gazed with greedy eyes at the empty spaces …’(page 81).
Archdeacon Maunsell—the beloved ‘Manihera’ of the tribes, who made such a wonderful translation into the Maori language of the Old Testament in the Waikato tribal dialect—comes to life as a cultured Christian gentleman. Quoting from the ‘Richmond-Atkinson Papers 1, page 658,’ the author quotes an extract from a letter from Maunsell in which he (Maunsell) declared that ‘he would, as he put it, “have taken the King by the hand,” given him any help with any legal adviser he might have chosen …. He would have tried to support the mana of the Chiefs and of Waikato.’
The account of the visit of Governor Gore-Browne to New Plymouth in March 1859 which was the prelude to the sale of the Waitara block by Teira is plainly told by the author. He correctly describes it as ‘one of those turning points in history’, for this sale finally led to the outbreak of the first Taranaki War.
The author takes his courage in both hands, and when it is a case of apportioning blame for the outcome of various actions by men holding high positions in the Government of the day he brings out the facts clearly and gives judgement without equivocation. For instance when discussing the Waitara purchase and its validity he describes Donald McLean, the Chief Land Purchase Commissioner, as having ‘played a less conscious and even less honest part … when his advice would have been most useful to the Governor, McLean kept silent. One has the uneasy feeling that the Chief Land Purchase Commissioner was acting the part of Pontius Pilate.’
Callousness of The Government
When reading Mr Rickard's account of the various incidents which finally led up to the unprovoked attack on the small pa at Waitara on 17 March 1860, I was deeply moved by the callousness of the Government and the men in high places of that time. The events which finally led up to the invasion of Waikato by Government troops followed remorselessly on the attack on Waitara and the siege of Pukerangiora in March 1861 by troops under General Pratt.
A Declaration by the Governor to the natives assembled at Ngaruawahia, dated 21 May 1861, was the dire portent of coming hostilities in Waikato. The writer closely examines the contents of this Declaration. After some preliminary remarks as to what he describes as a document with ‘numerous flaws in it,’ he comments that a statement in the Declaration that ‘the law guaranteed freedom and security … must have seemed particularly rich to the better informed Maoris who were well aware that the former Chief Justice, Sir William Martin, had declared that the Government's actions over the Waitara [purchase] was unlawful' (page 107.) The document also contained this declaration: ‘that every man was to allow roads and bridges to be made on this land when required by lawful authority.’ and the author comments on this as follows: ‘As the Maori had no share in any lawful authority, that would mean whenever the Pakeha chose.’
Good for Maori Morale
It is very good for the Maori morale to have so much of the history of past Pakeha misrule brought out into the open, and by a Pakeha. Mr Rickard's book deserves to be widely read.
There are a couple of points of spelling which may be mentioned.
‘Pohipohi’ on Pages 29 and 47 should be spelt ‘Pohepohe’. Pohepohe was Wiremu, the
King-maker's father-in-law. The mis-spelling in this case was made by the writer whom the author quotes.
The second name of the King-maker in all Maori writings including his own family records is spelt ‘Tamehana’ not ‘Tamihana’. This spelling readily identified him from Tamihana, the son of Te Rauparaha, who was a contemporary of the King-maker.
From almost the earliest period of settlement, Pakehas have shown considerable interest in the proverbs of the Maori people. Sir George Grey's ‘Ko Nga Whakapehapeha Me Nga Whakaahuareka A Nga Tupuna’ is the principal published source of Maori proverbs. The Rev. Richard Taylor's ‘Te Ika A Maui’ duplicated and added many more to Grey's collection, and further contributions have come from William Colenso, Judge F. H. Smith, S. Percy Smith, Elsdon Best, James Cowan, Raymond Firth and others. In more recent times Maori writers—the Rev. R. T. Kohere in ‘Te Konae Aronui’, H. T. M. Wikiriwhi and the Rev. K. M. Ihaka in ‘Te Ao Hou’, John Grace in ‘Tuwharetoa’, Leslie Kelly in ‘Tainui’, J. H. Mitchell in ‘Takitimu’, and others—have at least come up with illuminating comments to throw more light on a number of these proverbs.
Will Have Wide Appeal
Aileen E. Brougham and A. W. Reed, in drawing from all these published sources, have cast their net widely and produced a useful, compact, pocket-size book of 135 pages, which will have a wide appeal to students, teachers and lovers of our beautiful Maori language. There should be a place for it in every home, for any publication which gives the non-Maori speaking person, whether Maori or Pakeha, access to this part of New Zealand's cultural heritage is to be welcomed. Its price of 12s 6d is not excessive.
There are many proverbs that praise foresight, preparedness, provision for the future, thrift, alertness, watchfulness, bravery, leadership, agility, diligence, perseverance, industry, neatness, tidiness, beauty, poise, self-reliance, responsibility, generosity, stability — proverbs that scorn laziness, idleness, clumsiness, carelessness, thoughtlessness, wastefulness — that frown upon lack of planning, trusting to promises, inhospitality, gluttony—that ridicule aimlessness, indecision, procrastination, neglect—that rebuke inattention, grumbling, greed, boasting, cowardice — that caution against hidden thoughts, undeclared intentions and false externals.
Many proverbs which have fallen out of current use because some of their allusions have become obscured, have been resurrected in this compilation; on the other hand, it is a pity that some which are still widely used have not been included. They all have their origins in a bygone age it is true, but many of them have peculiar aptness in our time and are still quoted to add colour and drama to the thrust and parry of verbal encounters on many a marae.
The authors of this book first quote each proverb in Maori, then give either a literal or a free translation in English, then follow this up with an interpretation. Wherever possible, they add to this a description of the circumstances which gave rise to the original utterance. This method is exceedingly helpful, to students in particular.
Some Questionable Interpretations
Not that all of the translations, descriptions and explanations are always correct, clear and adequate. For example, on page 38, the proverb ‘Ka mahi te tamariki wawahi tahā’ is translated as ‘Well done, children who break the calabashes!’ The explanation which follows is, ‘A saying applied to a man who deliberately injures his relations, and is likened to mischievous children who break their parents’ calabashes.' But in their translation, the words ‘well done’ are an interpolation; they are not in the original, neither are they implied, and the translation should simply be, ‘The calabash-breaking children are at work’. Furthermore, this reviewer has often heard the great Maori leaders of this century (Ngata, Pomare, Buck and others) being affectionately referred to as calabash-breaking children—that is, as agents of change who broke new ground to come up with new policies and new innovations to improve the lot of their people. So although this proverb may originally have been used as a term of censure, it is not used only in this way; it is often used in a complimentary sense.
On page 80 ‘he po tutata, he ao pahorehore’
is not followed by a translation as is the case with most of the other proverbs quoted, but by an explanation: ‘at night all are assembled, by day all are scattered.’ My translation is ‘near at night, vanished by day.’ The meaning of this is that resolutions made in the evening often fade on the morrow. This is also the meaning of a more commonly used proverb which is not included here: ‘he ahiahi tukaha, he ata pahorehore.’
Much Consultation Necessary
I have not the space to point out all of the isolated inadequacies in the translations and explanations given in this collection. One hopes, however, that when the time comes for a new edition, the authors will go for advice to as wide a range of people as possible; it would be particularly useful to consult authorities from the various tribes. Only in this way could an adequate and comprehensive collection be made.
Nevertheless this is a distinctly useful book, coming as it does at a time when there are many signs that interest in the Maori language is increasing.
Proverbs contain much of the wisdom of our ancestors; they express universal truths and eternal values that we, their descendants, should be ever mindful of. These messages from the past and from our dead have a special significance in setting our sights on the hazardous pathways of the twentieth century.
Wild Honey: Poems
It is a sign of the breaking of barriers between New Zealand and England—the falling into disuse of the old fallacy of condescension towards ‘colonial’ culture—that the Oxford University Press has published yet another book of verse by a New Zealand poet. Enough good poems had been written here ten years ago to warrant overseas publication; but English publishers had not yet changed their habits of thought. The Oxford University Press is to be congratulated on its timely and positive move, and, in the case of Mr Campbell's book, on a superb format and cover design.
Mr Campbell has suffered perhaps from being regarded as pre-eminently a poet of youth—the power, glamour, and legendary invulnerability of youth. It was this quality in his work which made him our most popular poet. The poems deserved it; but that's beside the point. People have always wanted poets to be undomesticated creatures, sensuous though not sensual, survivors from Eden, myth-makers, fated to die young. The poets disappoint them. In Mr Campbell's case, after a long period of hibernation, he began to write different poems —stripped, hard, ironical poems, relying on structure rather than glamour to carry the mood—
‘Sometimes the weather clears and far below I see the plains—what brought us to this height?
The bones of fallen climbers shine like snow,
And I secure each foothold as I go.
‘In my exhaustion it has sometimes seemed
That we were climbing up the face of God,
And that the water falling on us streamed
From His eyes — but I woke and knew I dreamed,
‘And wept bitterly, though I hid my tears,
Pretending to be gay when I despaired …
My children climb the mountain unawares
As eagerly as up a flight of stairs …'
I quote these lines from ‘The Climber’, a poem of Mr Campbell's second period, as good as any he wrote in his first, not excluding even the magnificent and well-known ‘Elegy’. Among new material, there is also the sequence ‘Sanctuary of Spirits’, written originally for radio, in which Mr Campbell makes a mainly successful use of episodes from the career of Te Rauparaha. Any reader interested in a modern handling of Maori themes should buy the book and read it.
A farewell evening for Miss W. E. Pariare of Tauranga, who recently retired after four years as a Maori Welfare Officer, was held last May at the Judea Pa, Tauranga.
Miss Paraire took up welfare work at the instigation of the late Dr Maharaia Winiata. She worked with the post office for 14 years before this and during the last war she served five years with the W.A.A.F.
As a welfare officer she cared for nearly 500 families from Katikati, Matata, Matamata and the Tauranga area.
She was also interested in forming women's welfare league branches in Rereatukania, Athenree, Okauia, Bethlehem, Waitao, Wairoa and Merivale.