Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 59 (June 1967)
– 40 –

New Zealand Maori Council
‘Meets the People’ at Omahu

Representatives of the eight District Councils of the New Zealand Maori Council met at Omahu, Hawke's Bay, from 7–9 April for the annual ‘meet the people’ hui.

Reports of council activities in the eight districts were given, and discussions followed on many aspects of these reports. Problems varied in each area; from a major drift to the towns from one area, to large-scale arrivals in another area.

Mr Graham Butterworth and Mr Dennis Rose addressed the meeting on ‘The Maori in the New Zealand Economy’. These two men were largely responsible for the recently published report on the same topic—the result of research following a request made by the Council to the Department of Industries and Commerce in 1964.

During the weekend, Mr Alex Kirkpatrick spoke on ‘The Maori in Industry’, and Mr N. P. K. Puriri, Assistant Controller of Maori Welfare spoke on ‘Some Welfare Problems of the Maori’. His main point was that ‘We must start to help ourselves, and not sit back and ask others to help us’. He said that some Maori people, over-sensitive about racial relations with Pakehas, were themselves ‘pretty hard’ on their cousins, who were coming from the Islands of the Pacific to find work in New Zealand. He also urged those present to encourage their young people to know their family and tribal history—‘The boys who are getting into trouble are the ones who don't know where they are, because they don't know who they are,’ he said.

Brief reports were given by three women: Mrs Kaipara of the Women's Health League, who stressed parents' responsibility in their children's education, even though they may have had little education themselves—going to headmasters to discuss courses available to their children; Mrs Sage of the Maori Women's Welfare League, who requested that men help the women in their work with young people in penal and psychiatric institutions; and Mrs Harlen who told of her work with young Maori men in a penal institution—work which had a small beginning but was now almost a full-time job, with the boys learning carving, various crafts, their own language, and taking up courses of study.

Highlight of the weekend was the arrival

Picture icon

Adelaide Hakiwhai presents Lady Fergusson with a bouquet photograph by Martial Georges

– 41 –

of the Governor-General, Sir Bernard Fergusson, and Lady Fergusson for their official farewell by the Maori Council.

The vice-regal party was challenged and led onto the marae by Mr Taanga Tomoana, and greeted by Mrs Reremoana Hakiwhai whose granddaughter Adelaide presented Lady Fergusson with a bouquet.

Brief speeches were given by representatives from each district, and farewell gifts from the Council—a totara maripi (carved by Jim Fergus, a Taradale boy serving his apprenticeship at the Rotorua Maori Arts and Crafts Institute) and a paua brooch and earring set—given to Sir Bernard and Lady Fergusson. Anzac Pierce, who as a boy had been presented with an award by Sir Bernard's father, was chosen to make the presentation.

Sir Bernard thanked Council members for their gifts and expressions of loyalty, and urged all present to strive for greater understanding between Maori and Pakeha races.

Hastings Girls' High School Maori choir and the Hawera Silver Band entertained the crowd. After chatting informally with grownups and children on the marae, the guests joined the people for a banquet, spread by the people of Omahu. (Actually, all the meals during the weekend were banquets!)

When Sir Bernard and Lady Fergusson left the marae, they were surrounded and fare-welled by a happy confident group of children—another evidence of his mana and of the aroha they had for him.

The wero-stick used when the Governor-General was challenged at Omahu, carved by Mr Baden Batt of Greenmeadows, is of special significance, showing the history of the meeting house.

At the top is Tamatea-Ariki-Nui, who came from Hawaiiki, and whose mother-of-pearl shell eyes signify that he came from afar. Further down the stick, also with eyes of mother-of-pearl, are Te Arai-Te Uru and Ruamano, two tipua, or demons, who accompanied the Takitimu canoe on its long journey. At the bottom is Toto, wife of Tamatea-Ariki-Nui, with eyes of paua shell, signifying that she as of the tangata whenua.

Their son Rongokako married Muriwhenua and to their son Tamatea-Pokai-Whenua and his wife Iwipupu was born Kahungunu. Kahukuranui, after whom the meeting house at Omahu is named, was the son of Kahungunu and his fourth wife, Rongo-Mai-Wahine.

Tapu Lifted

At the close of the Council's meeting, the tapu on the meeting house, Kahukuranui, was lifted, to enable the work of demolishing to begin.

The ceremony was performed by Pei te Hurinui Jones, and prayers were made by Canon J. Tamahori, chaplain of Te Aute College. The chairman of the New Zealand Maori Council, Sir Turi Carroll, withdrew the first nail from the building.

The meeting house was to have been demolished several weeks before, but was left until after the ‘meet-the-people’ weekend. Just as all tribes were represented at the ceremony, it is hoped that all will again be present when the new meeting house is opened.

It is hoped that the new house, to be built by the Omahu people, will be completed before the end of the year.

Going Back

Why are you always talking old woman?
talking about going back home.
‘I must go back,’ you say,
‘All the old people are dying,
I must go back before they're all gone
Go back to what, I wonder,
to lose your smile on friendless faces
and end your journey in the mud and gorse?
Your would scarcely recognize
your once green gentle valley,
nor know your kinfolk now.
So settle down old lady,
one foot tucked under your squatness,
the other tapping bare-toed on the floor,
sit and remember the old faces,
they have all gone back, but for you.

Valerie Fox

– 42 –