Hone has a big smile to welcome you to his home. His hands reach forward and beckon you in. That smile is something you'll always remember.
Ask him a serious question; his brow furrows and he ponders. You know his answer in his very own, not what he has heard other people say, or what ‘everyone’ is saying—Hone speaks his own opinions.
Long after you visit, too, you remember his voice, deep and soft.
These things you remember, his happy greeting, his serious thinking, and his voice.
Hone lives now at Te Mahoe. His house is one of the Ministry of Works cottages for the men engaged in building the Matahina Dam. One side of the living room has a book-case full to overflowing with books—books on old New Zealand, books by modern authors, books by Russian and French authors, and of course, the novels of Noel Hilliard, Hone's close friend.
Hone Tuwhare was born in Kaikohe in 1922. He has links with Ngatikorokoro and Ngatitautahi hapu of Ngapuhi. After his mother died, when he was five years old, the family
moved to Auckland where his step-mother still lives. His formal education was completed at Beresford Street School, Freeman's Bay, Auckland. After leaving school at fifteen, he served his apprenticeship as a boilermaker with New Zealand Government Railways at Otahuhu.
Overseas to Japan
Although he served with the 16th Maori Battalion Reinforcements he did not go overseas with this unit. However he went to Japan, serving in the 2nd Divisional Cavalry in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force.
After his return from Japan, Hone worked in various places. He spent several years in Wellington where, in 1949, he married Jean McCormack of Milford, Auckland. Their eldest son, eleven-year-old Rewi, was born in Wellington. There are two more boys, the twins Robert and Andrew, who were born at Mangakino.
For the last ten years he has been working at his trade on the hydro-electric schemes at Mangakino and Matahina.
Hone has been interested in poetry for most of his life. An early friendship with the poet R. A. K. Mason has, he says, had a big influence on his writing. A later encouragement came from his association with Noel Hilliard in Wellington and in Mangakino. Since he first appeared in print in ‘Landfall’ people will have seen his poems in various magazines, such as the ‘New Zealand Listener’, ‘Te Ao Hou’ and ‘Mate’. Audiences in Tauranga, Te Puke, Kawerau and Whakatane have heard Hone reading his own poems. He has given readings at Mangakino District High School, Ngata Memorial College and Te Puke High School. Whakatane Cine Club made a delightful series of slides shown to synchronize with spoken poems of Hone's. To hear and see this performance is a truly memorable experience.
Many Other Interests
A large part of his spare time is taken up with Trades Union affairs. He has always taken a keen and active interest in the Trades Union, and for the last two years he has been secretary of the local branch at Matahina. He has found time, though, to attend the Young Leaders' Conferences at Auckland, Rotorua, Tauranga, Whakatane, Ruatoria and Murupara. Also, Hone was secretary of the Whakatane and District Maori Advancement Committee which collected contributions for the Education Foundation and sponsored several deserving applicants for assistance.
Hone enjoys his writing and the exchange of ideas with other writers. He feels he has an important task in his Trades Union work. But I think his greatest enjoyment is helping his sons to a good education—not just by encouraging them at school, but by taking them to places and talking about what they have seen and done, and making them consciously think about their experiences. To hear Hone probe for his sons' criticism of a good film is to know that here are growing three thinking citizens.
The Old Place
No one comes
by way of the doughy track
through straggly tea tree bush
and gorse, past the hidden spring
and bitter cress.
Under the chill moon's light
no one cares to look upon
the drunken fence-posts
and the gate white with moss.
No one except the wind
saw the old place
make her final curtsy
to the sky and earth:
and in no protesting sense
did iron and barbed wire
ease to the rust's invasion
nor twang more tautly
to the wind's slap and scream.
On the cream lorry
or morning paper van
no one comes,
for no one will ever leave
the golden city on the fussy train;
and there will be no more waiting
on the hill beside the quiet tree
where the old place falters
because no one comes anymore