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No. 59 (June 1967)
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WAITANGI
1967

This year's celebrations on Waitangi Day, 6 February, were most impressive—from the sun setting behind the Treaty House, the 21-gun salute, manoeuvres by the Band of the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Navy guard, the welcoming challenge and powhiri from the Hokowhitu a Tu group, and the floodlit ships standing in the Bay of Islands. For the first time women drummers paraded for the Naval Sunset Ceremony.

With this ceremony, his last as Governor-General, Sir Bernard Fergusson and his ‘wife were beginning, ‘with heavy hearts’, eight months of farewells up and down New Zealand.

Mr H. Te Heuheu, paramount Tuwharetoa chief, thanked Sir Bernard for his deep interest in the Maori people, and for his sound advice and guidance. He spoke of the high regard and esteem his people had for the Governor. ‘You will not be forgotten,’ he said. ‘You will be held on high.’

On behalf of the Government, Mr D. McIntyre, Minister of Lands, said that the Treaty of Waitangi was the most significant document in our history, and was the basis of New Zealand's sound development. He likened the Treaty's concept of ‘one people’ to marriage—‘easy to get into, but hard to make work’. It was up to all New Zealanders to ensure that understanding reached in 1840 were improved upon and principles of justice and equality were retained.

Sir Bernard, looking frankly at the situation, said, ‘You and I know that the process of becoming one nation is still not complete, not even after all these years, not even after all that we have shared together in peace and war.

‘We can put forward various reasons for this, but not one would account for it in full. Yet it seems to me, having thought about it hard and long, that one principal cause is our failure to exploit the opportunities which we have for getting to know each other socially, and our failure to create such opportunities where they are not readily obvious.

‘Maori and Pakeha mingle happily at work. They share in the high spirits of the wool-shed and the muster, the pub and the race track, the ranges and the rugby field, the freezing works and the forestry. But do they go home to tea with each other? Do their families get to know each other?

‘In the country places, I know they do. But in these days, when more and more Maori are seeking their livelihood in the cities and towns, is the equivalent of these country friendships springing up in that new environment?

‘It is a big upheaval for Maori individuals, and still more for Maori families, to move from places like the old kainga round this Bay of Islands, and to settle in Kawakawa or Dargaville, or Whangarei, or Auckland, or Wellington—or, indeed, far down in the South Island, where I have met many people whose roots are in Tai Tokerau.

They feel as strange as I did when I first went to school in England from my remote valley in Scotland; and not surprisingly they tend to stick together, and fail to mix—except, as I say, at work.

‘I confess that I do not quite know how we get around this. I quite agree that a Maori can't go up to a Pakeha or a Pakeha to a Maori in an Auckland street, and say, “The Governor-General says we ought to have each other to tea. Come to tea!”

‘But I do feel in my bones that perhaps we could do a bit more than we have been doing in this sort of direction.

‘What I was saying just now applies to Islanders too. We have no right whatever to think of them as teina—younger brothers. They are inheritors with us of the glories and the privileges and the responsibilities of the South Pacific.

‘I have visited all the inhabited islands which are under New Zealand's protection, and others such as Samoa and Tonga, many of whose people come to earn their living here.

‘I have been almost overwhelmed by their friendly hospitality, their deep religious sense, their love for our Queen, even in those islands that do not owe her allegiance, and by their affection for New Zealand.

‘So I have been grieved to hear that in some quarters in this country they have felt that they were neither wanted nor welcome.

‘There is an acute awareness here of our obligations to the less fortunate peoples of

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South-east Asia, whom we are trying to help, and feed, and protect; but don't let us forget our nearer neighbours in the Pacific.’

Sir Bernard concluded his address, as he began, in Maori, thanking the people for their kindness and the warmth of their welcome.

In the New Zealand Herald next day, an editorial writer agreed that, ‘… The races work together, play together, drink together and fight for common causes together, but their home lives are generally distinct and separate. The one may fear that any overtures on his part would be rebuffed as condescension; the other that initiatives by him would be rejected as presumption.

‘The social barrier between the races is not one of colour, but one of differing traditional behaviour patterns …

‘… Sir Bernard Fergusson says the two races cannot approach each other on the street and say. “The Governor-General says we ought to have each other to tea. Come to tea.”

‘Perhaps His Excellency underrates his own influence; perhaps we have ignored for too long the direct, the simple, and the obvious approach.’

Perhaps we have!

The Gov's Got Something

Walking down Lambton Quay the other day I met a relative of mine who had been back amongst his many kinsmen in the Bay of Islands and he was full of news.

It struck me that he thought he was still in the main street of Kawakawa with its rail-track running down the centre. For my ears were assailed by a raucous greeting, ‘Hey boy I want to see you.’

I replied, ‘Well you're looking at me.’

He grinned ruefully, shook my hand and said ‘The trouble with you boy, you've been too long in Wellington and you've forgotten how to live. You've become a real city slicker just like some of our bones living in Auckland.’

I was rather nonplussed—he'd been pretty close to the mark. I endeavoured to pass off his remark by changing the subject and politely asking, ‘How is everybody?’

‘Well,’ he replied, ‘they're still breathing.’

He went on, not giving me the opportunity to respond, ‘You know, e hoa, I was at Waitangi the other week and I heard the Gov speaking. You know boy, there's no doubt about him. He's a beauty. He talked about us and you know I didn't get my wild up. Usually when I hear someone talking about me I get very hot under the collar.

On rambled my teina. (I hope he doesn't read this for he will claim that he is my tuakana. Anyway he's never heard of Te Ao Hou magazine so he won't know unless my other relatives inform him). ‘You know, e hoa, his talk struck a responsive chord in my memory! Bet you didn't know that I knew that word, ne!’

‘No,’ I replied.

‘As I was saying,’ remarked my kinsman, ‘that speech reminded me of what happened to me when I was a young fellah in Auckland about twenty years ago. I'll never forget! I left home to work in the city. Remember the old people, how upset they get whenever you leave? Anybody would think you were going to die.

‘Remember my old Kani Papa who brought me up? He was a real man and he seemed to know everything. I'll never forget him. As I was leaving he said to me, “Well moko, don't forget the things I've told you. Remember them and you will be safe”.’

On reminisced my teina. ‘Well as I was telling you, I went to Auckland. I hadn't been long in the job, about a month I think, when I got a ring from a Pakeha asking me to go out to his place for dinner. He said that old Kani Papa had written to him telling him I was in town. You know, eh boy, I didn't know that old man could write a letter, and I got a heck of a surprise to find that he knew any Pakehas. But I should have guessed it for

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he knew so much about them. I said to this Pakeha, “O.K. I'll see you later.”

‘But you know, that Pakeha he knew a thing or two and he told me that he would call for me in a couple of days time at the Y.M.C.A. in Wellesley Street at 5.30 in the evening. I thought he was a bit porangi. Fancy having dinner at night instead of the middle of the day. Then I remembered my Kani Papa telling me that Pakehas called the main meal dinner.

These Pakehas have a cup of tea in bed first thing in the morning, then breakfast, morning tea, then lunch—what we call dinner—afternoon tea, dinner, then supper. They seem to be eating all the time but they never get fat like us.”

‘Well I said “yes”, because I didn't want him to think that I was ungrateful. I didn't want to hurt his feelings. But I've found out over the years that it doesn't hurt him at all if you say “no” in the first place, instead of saying “yes” then not turning up.

‘I'm sure I was the whitest or greyest Maori in Queen Street. I was scared out of my pants. “Never mind,” I said to myself, “the old man reckoned they were only people.” The chaps I worked with seemed to be alright.

‘I tried to look sick. I thought of getting hurt on the job, thought of walking in front of a tram, but didn't have what my Pakeha cobbers call enough intestinal fortitude.

‘At 5.30 there was this Pakeha in a big flash car. He said to me, “Good evening”, but it was raining cats and dogs. I still can't figure this business. I got into the car and started to think of what the old man had said.

Don't forget. The safest thing to do is to say ‘yes’, and then ‘no’, and sometimes the things you think he would like to hear.”

‘So I said “yes” … “no” … “you've got a beauty car—you must be a very rich man. You look like the real rangatira.” I think he really liked that one—no different from the Maori—all chiefs, no Indians.

‘We arrived at his big flash house. He didn't knock or walk in, but pressed a button. As we waited for the door to be opened, I started taking my shoes off. Then I remembered what the old man had said,

You wipe your shoes on the mat and you keep your shoes on.”

‘Boy that was close! My grandfather's pearls of wisdom which he had cast—I mean that he'd told me—started coming back to me like bees to the hive.

You don't just walk in as we do at home. Even the man of the house has to knock at the door or ring the bell. You wait at the door until the lady of the house comes. Don't worry when you see her all dressed up. She's not going out. This is just for you. You will be introduced to her, and don't forget to say, ‘Pleased to meet you’, even though you might be feeling unhappy. The host will probably say, ‘This is the wife’. You don't shake hands unless she puts her hand out first.”

‘Sure enough Mr Spencer, (that was his name), said, “The wife, she won't be long.”

‘“Of course,” I thought to myself, “she would be Mrs Spencer.”

‘She came to the door, said “come inside,” and she was dressed as if she were going to church.

‘The old man had warned me that I would find it a little strange because the women and kids would do most of the talking, and they certainly did!

The children won't sit back and be quiet, but will sit up at the table and join in the conversation. They will ask a lot of questions. The wife won't be standing up serving you—she will also sit up at the table and monopolise the conversation.”

‘He had also warned me to watch which knife, fork or spoon they used, but not to fall into the same trap that had been set for his older brother when he had gone to a posh Pakeha house.

‘Kani Papa's brother had followed every move of the host … using a fork for the soup … putting sugar on the roast … cutting the steamed pudding with a knife and fork … then to top it off copying the host in dipping his forefinger into the mustard pot, eating it and smacking his lips in enjoyment. My Kani's brother didn't know that his host had only pretended the eating and enjoying. Much to his discomfort, his mouth started burning, tears rolled down his cheeks, and he realised too late that his host had put one across him.

‘The host politely asked Kani's brother why was he crying, and without turning a hair he

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said to him that he had never enjoyed such rich food in his life and that he was indeed deeply grieved that his wife, his children and all his relatives were not present to partake of such a wonderful feast.

‘That Pakeha was a real hard case, and they were good cobbers after that.

‘The Spencers’ meal was fit for a king, but not for this warrior. My mouth watered for brisket and puha and a few kumaras. This was before that crowd in Hokianga started selling them and then the blight came along.

‘I soon learned, just as Kani had said, that the purpose of a Pakeha meal is to talk, not what I had been used to—sit up, eat up, shut up and get up to make room for the others.

‘We talked about everything … how sad it was seeing the young people leaving home and other things. Mind you I kept to the “steady does it” policy of “yes” and “no” until towards the end of the meal. I had put together in my mind a beauty sentence but couldn't use it. They wouldn't ask me the right question.

‘As we were leaving the dining room one of the children said to me, “Did your grandfather eat anybody?” I said, “I'm not sure, but I heard he only had the gravy.” Mrs Spencer looked pretty pale. I was now feeling much more confident. I had a new look policy!

‘The old man's voice seemed to be there with me and everything was going just as he had predicted.

After ‘pudding’ you won't pack up your plates, but just sit until the wife gives you the signal to move out into another room. You must be careful to wait until the lady of the house sits down—not like with us, when the ladies have to wait until the men sit down. Anyway with us they'd be busy cleaning up the dishes and feeding the children.

When you go to the other room the host will not stand up and make a speech of welcome, so you won't have to worry about having a reply ready, as you do when you visit some of your kinsmen.

You must keep awake. They are not like us. With them it is rude for a visitor to fall asleep. And you mustn't sit on the floor either.

You will have to join in the conversation. Even if you do not understand what it is about, give the impression that you do. When you have something to say, make sure it is important. Try to steer the conversation round to things you know, because the ‘yes—no’ policy gets a bit boring.”

‘We started talking about diving for kinas, koura, and paua, and about line fishing. Mr Spencer was a good talker. Mind you if I had had what he had to drink, Parliament would have had nothing on us—but remember, I was only a youngster, and the strongest I had that night was iced lemon drink. Mr Spencer was such a yarn spinner that Ripleys would find it hard to match him.

‘I thought to myself, “Alright Mita Peneha, anything you can do, I can match it.” So I told him a yarn about a ‘make up’ tupuna who was diving near Kerikeri and found an old lamp that looked as if it came off a Spanish galleon. It was covered with barnacles, and eventually when the barnacles were cleared away, a light was still flickering.

‘Mita Peneha looked very hard at me and he said that he had been fishing that morning and had caught an eight foot tamure. I smiled at him and said, “I think that's a long one.”

‘You know he came back at me and said. “You blow the candle out of the lamp, and I'll cut my fish in half.” These Pakehas, they haven't got a sense of humour.

‘Not long after that defeat I heard the rattle of dishes and the squeaky sound of wheels. “My word”, I thought, “That's right, this is the Pakeha way of saying ‘go home’ or ‘we want to go to bed’—just like what the old man had said.”

After you have been talking for a while, usually between 9 and 10 p.m., the lady of the house will rise, say ‘Excuse me,’ and disappear. By this time of course the children will have long since been taken off to bed—not like ours, who stay up until the bitter end. She will return either carrying a tray or pushing a trolley. The end of supper is your signal to leave. You must thank the lady of the house first, then your host, not like us, when you thank the eldest first and then your host.”

‘We drank our tea and had some kai, had more talk, then I waited for about a minute, stood up, and repeated the magic sentence that had been taught me. I said thank you to Mrs Spencer first, then Mr Spencer, and I looked around to say thank you to the kids. Then I realised they had gone to bed.

‘I reckoned I was doing grand. After ex-

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pressing my gratitude I said I must leave. Then Mrs Spencer interrupted me and said, “Please stay a little longer.” The old man hadn't clued me up on this one, so I resumed my seat and sat on until well past midnight.

‘I caught a taxi back to the Y.M.C.A., wrote a letter to Kani Papa telling him of my debut, and was eagerly awaiting my next visit to the Spencers.

‘The weeks went by, the months, and it wasn't until two years later when I returned home and was telling Kani about that wonderful evening, that the truth was revealed to me by my Kani.

‘“Aue boy, I should have told you that when Mrs Spencer said ‘Please stay a bit longer’, she was only being polite, and what she was really saying was, ‘the sooner you leave the happier I will be’.” ‘

My relative looked at me and said, ‘Well, that was in the olden days. Things are much different now and I think the Gov's got something.’

He looked at me and smiled. ‘See you later. Be around Sunday with the Missus and kids. I'm off. Got to get the double.’

—Na ‘Townie’