The Invasion of Waikato
By Harold Miller
Pauls Book Arcade, 6s 6d
This excellent book contains the text of a public lecture delivered by Mr Miller on the occasion of the centenary of the invasion of Waikato. Most appropriately the lecture was given in the centre of Waikato, at Hamilton.
Mr Miller is to be complimented on this timely study, which says with eloquence and scholarly accuracy a great many things that badly needed saying.
His discussion of Wiremu Tamihana, that far-sighted stateman, teacher and Christian leader who took up arms so reluctantly, is of particular interest. A reader who may be a descendant of Tamihana can be excused for the pride he must feel in the qualities of vision and integrity which this great leader possessed, and perhaps one can be generous and tolerant if in one's reading some hostility is aroused at the thought of the needless bloodshed which ended his endeavours.
A Sad But Inspiring Story
Mr Miller's account of the thirst for knowledge which the Maori possessed at this time, and the great strides forward which they had made before the war came, gives us cause to ponder just how the Maori people would have advanced if over one hundred years ago there could have been the same concern for their welfare as exists today. Think of the progress that might have been made in farming pursuits if the right kind of encouragement had been given. History decreed otherwise.
Speaking of those days before the war, Mr Miller said to his audience, ‘I do not know how much is known of all this in Waikato. You ought to know about it and tell it to your children, for there are few more inspiring stories in the whole history of Christian civilisation—not a bit less inspiring because it ended in total defeat.’
It is a sad story, but if in its telling Maori and European can learn to appreciate each other's best qualities and to understand each other better, then assuredly New Zealand society as a whole must benefit.
Auckland Institute and Museum photo
Wiremu Tamihana: a statesman, teacher and Christian leader, caught up in a tragic conflict.
Yes Mr Miller, there are many young men of the Maori race who have deep thoughts when they survey the rich pasture-lands where once the cooking fires of their ancestors burned: when they remember the unjust confiscations and the barren period after the war, and witness today the slow and painful efforts the race is making to gain parity in the educational field. There are many who are thinking of the urgency of the task they have before them to stir their people and rouse them to the greatest heights of achievement, so that they may be worthy of the sacrifices of their ancestors.
Mr Miller ended his lecture by expressing the hope that some day, the people of Hamilton may think it right to erect a memorial to Wiremu Tamihana, whom he described to his audience as ‘the greatest man who has ever lived in this place’. What could be more appropriate, he asked, than to give the name of this ‘friend of education’ to one of the buildings to be erected in Hamilton as part of the new University of Waikato.
Let us hope that this may be done, for it would indeed be a fitting memorial.
No Ordinary Sun:
Poems by Hone Tuwhare
Blackwood and Janet Paul, 10s 6d
This book contains a careful selection of the poems of Hone Tuwhare, the best-known poet of Maori descent writing in English. Tuwhare's style owes something to free verse tradition, something (whether or not the author is bilingual) to the energy and natural metaphors of Maori speech, and only its faults to a certain debris absorbed from versifiers less gifted than himself. When Tuwhare is boldest and most his own master, he breaks all nets of imitation with a bare statement of the condition of man—
‘I have learned to love
too much perhaps
rough tracks hard of going
poorly lit by stars… ‘
do not rage your brothers
to a harsh awakening.
to a Tuesday's blossoming tree
and the wild orchard
where I shall find her… ‘
‘But I heard her with the wind
crooning in the hung wires
and caught her beauty by the coffin
muted to a softer pain—
in the calm vigil of hands
in the green-leaved anguish
of the bowed heads
of old women… ‘
The last quotation I have given here, from the poem ‘Tangi’, would lose much of its meaning for a reader who lacked knowledge of Maori funeral ceremonies, and especially the carrying of green leaves by the mourners. And this raises the point of possible obscurity. Has Tuwhare the right to use images whose meaning will be inaccessible to those who are ignorant of Maori thought and custom? I think he has that right, since greater richness comes from the double level of symbolism; and a reader worth his salt would be led to study and enquiry. Furthermore, Tuwhare is ploughing a new paddock, where Maori and Pakeha frontiers mingle, a steep stony paddock that needs the double-handled hillside plough.
The keynote of Tuwhare's writing is an uncommon emotional honesty. There is hardly a trace of padding, of constructed abstract comment in his work. As a result he writes either superbly (as, for example, in ‘Roads’ ‘Tangi’, ‘A Disciple Dreams', Monologue’, ‘Moon Daughter’, ‘The Girl in the Park’, ‘Importune the East Wind’) or imperfectly, with a cluster of fragments, true in themselves but not joined in a total unity. There is no middle road of the merely competent; and the reader has the advantage of knowing that the reality prior to the poem is never faked or invented. Each poem is alive from start to finish.
Tuwhare's verse could be admired for reasons outside the value of the poems themselves—because he is Maori (a reason for the keen racialist); because he is a man who works with his hands (a reason for the romantic Leftist)—but these things are in the long run irrelevant. It is certainly true that he uses the English language with a new slant, a new emotional element, from a Maori point of view; and his occupation may deliver him from the academic vices. But the best poems stand beyond this, on their own merits, as authentic personal intuitions of the meaning of life and death. I find Tuwhare's work most nearly perfect when he deals with the relationship of men and women, or alternately with the inner darkness and poverty experienced by a modern man who is gripped by the mechanical necessities of Western life. The shock of warmth and discovery, as one reads these poems, happens again and again.
Maori Games and Hakas:
Instructions, Word and Actions
A. H. & A. W. Reed, 22s 6d
by Alan Armstrong
reviewed by Kingi Ihaka
Alan Armstrong's recently published ‘Maori Games and Hakas’ follows the earlier ‘Maori Action Songs’ written by himself and Reupena Ngata.
‘Maori Games and Hakas’ is a very elaborate book, divided into four parts: after the very useful introduction we have sections on Maori games, on Maori music and musical dances (powhiri, poi and action songs), and on haka taparahi and peruperu.
This is an invaluable book which should find its way into all our schools, Maori clubs, and other organizations concerned with foster-
ing Maori culture. There is a tendency these days for New Zealanders intending to travel overseas to rush into a Maori club and learn (or try to learn) one or two items—perhaps an action song or a poi—and they expect to learn such items in a matter of a few days! Armstrong's book is of inestimable help to over-seas travellers in this regard. Illustrations showing hand, feet and body movements in haka, action songs and poi are clearly set out throughout. For a book containing both Maori and English there are very few misprints, and these will not affect the theme or the meaning of the songs, haka, etc. The introduction with its discussion of the Maori language, methods of teaching haka and action songs, taiaha drill and concert entrances, contains important material often by-passed by the aver-age Maori.
How often at a so-called Maori concert have we found that there are only one or two Maori items, the rest of the programme being devoted to ‘hybrid’ items—songs sung in Maori to pop tunes, or an imitation of the ‘twist’ with some sort of a Maori flavour. Armstrong has something to say about this too! And on this matter of concerts, Armstrong discusses the controversial issue as to which side of the stage a party should enter—left or right—and gives a version which should, for competition purposes, be accepted by all.
But the book is not limited only to hakas, action songs, and pois. There is an excellent section on the old Maori games—games which today are known and played only in a few country districts. Hand games, which add flavour to a concert, have a section in the book, too.
Alan Armstrong is to be complimented on his excellent work. He is so far the only person who has given adequate illustrations of the actions of Maori items, and his work will greatly assist those who are learners.
The book is to be treated as a guide, in that no one who wishes to know the various facets of the haka, poi and other Maori items can fully appreciate the value of such numbers without associating himself with a group which practises them regularly. One must be practical, and Armstrong has learnt all that he has recorded in his book not merely from reading books, nor from taking notes from various people. He has taken a most active part in Maori cultural activities, both in Malaya as a leader of the very successful Maori Concert Party of the 2nd Battalion of the New Zealand Regiment, and in Wellington, where he is a member of at least two progressive Maori clubs.
New Zealand owes Alan Armstrong a debt of gratitude for his painstaking work in recording in book form those things which today are not only part of Maori culture, but also an important facet of New Zealand life. Tena koe Alan!
The Decorative Arts
Of The New Zealand Maori
A. H. & A. W. Reed, 22s 6d
by T. Barrow
reviewed by Katarina Mataira
Dr T. Barrow's ‘The Decorative Arts of the New Zealand Maori’ is certain to find its way on to the bookshelves of many libraries and homes. For all lovers and students of Maori culture this book is a ‘must’.
At last someone has presented, together and in colour, all six of the decorative arts of classic Maori culture. These are: moko (tattoo), kowhaiwhai (rafter patterns), taniko (weaving of cloak borders), raranga (weaving of baskets and mats), tukutuku (lattice-work house panels), and whakairo (carving of wood, stone and bone). The examples shown are from both overseas and New Zealand collections, and some of them are illustrated here for the first time.
That the author has a profound respect for the Maori artist of the classic period is apparent from the almost reverent manner in which the art work of this time is presented. Careful selection, expert photography and excellent colour printing combine to show to the full the beauty of design and exquisite craftsmanship of carving, tukutuku, taniko and other arts.
Along with the many photographs of early paintings of Maori subjects are short notes of historical and cultural interest. The author presents some new interpretations which are of much interest, and his comments clearly show how closely the art of the Maori was integrated with his everyday living.
Although most of the book is concerned with art in the classic style, there are also examples of rock painting and stone engraving, some of which probably belong to an earlier period. There are also some pieces which belong to the present time.
This book will no doubt appeal to tourists. Knowing this, the author has included a chapter entitled ‘Tourists and Tourism’, in which he
offers tourists some advice. That ‘Maoris appreciate any sincere interest in their life or the life of their ancestors, but do not like to be viewed as exhibits or curiosities’, is a very true comment indeed.
The one feature of this book which disturbs me is the use of a technique generally associated with the promotion of tourism. Dressing up Maori maids and warriors in present-day Maori concert regalia and posing them along-side canoes in a museum, and in front of carved houses, does nothing but perpetuate the impression which so many overseas people have that Maoris still dress and live like this. The photographs used here are also of the tourist type. The colour is far too strong and over-glorified. These pictures are in such unhappy contrast with the other ones that I feel it is a pity that the author used them.
Notwithstanding this however, Mr Barrow has produced the most comprehensive, attractive, and easily read book which has so far been published on the subject. It caters for the amateur and the expert, the young and the old, and will do much to foster a greater appreciation of the classic Maori arts.
A New Maori Migration
by Joan Metge
and Melbourne University Press, 45s
reviewed by John Harréa
This is much the most detailed description of contemporary Maori life that has yet been published—in fact the detail may be a bit over-powering for the casual reader, although such readers are greatly assisted by short clear conclusions at the end of most chapters.
Dr Metge discusses life in both a rural village in Northland (called here Kotare) and urban Auckland, dealing in particular with domestic organization, kinship, leadership and community solidarity. Her aim is to describe and explain the process of urbanisation—probably one of the most significant features of Maori life in the post-war years.
The author tells us that when she began to work on this project she made the usual assumption that Maori urban society was something rather different from Maori rural society. More than this she expected to find a clear division between the two. What she did find was that the urban Maori does not cut himself adrift from rural Maori life by moving to the town, but keeps in close contact through visits back (particularly for tangi) and through country relations who often visit him in the town.
This means, of course, that Maori rural society is changing also. Along with the urban it is undergoing what anthropologists call ‘acculturation’, that is, a change in ways of life brought about by adapting to the forces of the larger society of which it is a part.
This book is essential reading for everyone—Maori and Pakeha—who is not only interested in the present day situation, but is prepared to make an effort to understand the processes involved. It is not light reading, but fortunately the language of the social anthropologist is not too technical and Dr Metge takes considerable pains to make sure that the terms she uses are adequately explained.
Land Tenure in the Cook Islands
by R. G. Crocombe
Oxford University Press, 38s
reviewed by John Booth
When people used to one type of land-holding try to codify the rules for another and completely different system, they almost invariably alter and distort it to such an extent that it ceases to function effectively. This is what has happened in the Cook Islands; it is admirably described in a new book by Ron Crocombe called ‘Land Tenure in the Cook Islands’.
This book is of particular interest to New Zealand Maoris because their traditional system of land tenure was so similar to that of the Cook Islands. Much of what the author says could be matched with New Zealand cases. For instance, on pages 141–2 he lists ways in which flexibility was built into the old system but has been excluded by statute and Land Court decision from the new. The New Zealand position would be very similar.
As in New Zealand, it is apparently true that in the Cooks some good Maori land is not productive, and this is due in large part to the suppression of the traditional rules of land-use. The land has become tangled up in a complicated web of red tape.
Mr Crocombe quotes two cases as an illustration of his argument. On the island of Mauke the Land Court had dealt with all the planting land before 1906 whereas in Mangaia
this had never been done. There has been a more marked decline in productivity in Mauke than in Mangaia, for in Mangaia indigenous leadership remains and the land is held under customary tenure.
The book finishes with a statement of principle that would be widely accepted but not so often applied. ‘Unless tenure reform is associated with improvements in technical skills, the provision of credit, transport and markets, it is unlikely to result in increases in output or in the satisfaction of the people concerned. Furthermore, in a democratic society, proposals for reform must be evolved with the full participation of the people and must be accepted by them if they are to result in effective improvements to their social and economic welfare.’