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No. 52 (September 1965)
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BOOKS

Department of Anthropology University of Auckland, 12s

My Dear Pat,

Tena ano ra koe, te waihongaiho a o taua matua tupuna—te maramara i poua e ratou hei kai arataki, hei kai manaaki i te Iwi. Kati ra.

I have been asked to review your book but, while appreciative of the honour, I face the task with certain misgivings which will become apparent to you as this letter unfolds.

I would like you to know right off that I do not consider myself competent to be writing this review—I consider that any of our many eminent sociologists would be far better qualified to interpret the conclusions you reach in your very thorough work. However, probably because of my family connection with the people of Waima and the fact that I work in the area as a Welfare. Officer, my views on your book have been sought. As a tangata whenua therefore, and one who is closely associated with our people in the course of my work, let me now give you my impressions and my thoughts on what you have done.

I believe that the Maori has two basic attitudes which he must preserve if his Maoritanga is to survive; these are his love of people, and his pride in himself as a Maori. In both these attitudes the main consideration, I feel, is the one of being proud of what he is, and of what he offers as a manifestation of this pride. To do anything at all which might suggest or indicate that the Maori has very little of which to be proud in certain aspects of his way of living is, in my opinion, to undermine this very pride to which his adherence is so necessary. I contend that your indication of the conditions under which our Mahurehure people live — the substandard housing, unproductive land etc. — is to attack them where it will hurt most: in their prestige, indeed their mana, among their own race and throughout the land.

I believe in the age-worn adage that ‘the truth hurts’ and I have no doubt that the facts and statistics you have gathered will stand up under the severest scrutiny. However I wonder if figures can always be said never to lie, especially when they are used in measuring the soul of a people? You have (whether rightly or wrongly, cannot be argued at this late stage) named our people in your thesis for your Master of Arts degree, but can you honestly say that you have revealed to the world the intangible qualities that the people of Waima have which can never be seen in a statistical table: their love of people which makes them ‘open house’ to complete strangers, which makes them invite everyone who calls to a meal where every bit of food (even to the last they have in their cupboard) goes on the table, where their differences in religion or boundary fences are buried in combining together at mourning, at assisting a whanau pani or in a project for their Maori school—all this because ‘te mea nui he tangata’.

There has never been a book written about the Ngapuhi people. Have you ever wondered why? Is it because we have never had the students of sufficient intellect to undertake the task? Or is it because our kaumatua have passively resisted such an undertaking by Maori or Pakeha? If it is because of the latter reason, then why such resistance from our elders? Some may like to say that we are afraid to show our tarakura; others could also say that we do not wish to harp on some of our better qualities and achievements (of which we have a small number)—whatever the reasons, I believe that our pride as Ngapuhi will best be maintained if we cling to the memories which accord us most satisfaction.

If the purpose of your book was to bring to the notice of the appropriate authority the plight of our people, then I am certain we would welcome your leadership and advice as to what we as a people should do next. You well know the desperate need the people have for inspired and well-conceived leadership.

You will of course know that as you rise in your chosen profession, we of Waima will share in your glory. Let us please share this with the boy who came from humble beginnings and who was charged by his tupuna to place the people first.

Kati nei ra. ma te Atua koe e manaaki i nga a ra e haere mai nei.

Na to whanaunga.

Sonny Baker

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Rebecca and The Maoris

Rebecca is a lively, pretty Maori girl who lives in Rotorua. In this well designed book of photographs she introduces the reader to her friends and relatives, and at the same time to Rotorua. The ‘sights’ are adequately covered, but the pictures are mainly concerned with portraying the warmth and every-day variety of normal Maori life. They do this very well indeed.

Maori Picture Dictionary

This small book gives the meanings of a selection of Maori words, sometimes discussing them at some length. Each page has two excellent illustrations by Roger Hart. It is not comprehensive enough to serve as a dictionary for translation purposes, but anyone learning Maori and wanting to add to his vocabulary would find the book a useful and attractive way of doing this.

M.O.