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No. 61 (December 1967)
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Golden Jubilee of Old
Maori Parliament

On Saturday, 16 September, 1967, the old historical marae of Rukumoana, near Morrinsville, was alive with activity as men busied themselves preparing hangis, women prepared vegetables and cultural groups rehearsed items in readiness to welcome their Maori Queen Te Ata-i-Rangi-Kaahu and other official guests. The occasion was the Golden Jubilee of the opening of the old Maori Parliament known to older generations of Maoridom as the Kauwhanganui, and the 50th anniversary of the unveiling of the memorial stone of King Mahuta which stands majestically in the foreground of the Kauwhanganui.

This was indeed a display of Maori-Pakeha unity, led by Queen Te Ata-i-Rangi-Kaahu and the Tumuaki of the Maori King Movement. Te Waharoa Tarapipipi Tamehana. Also present were the representative of the Piako County Council, Mr D. J. Thomas, the Mayor and Mayoress of Morrinsville, Mr and Mrs M. R. Wightman, and the Mayor of Hamilton and Chancellor of the Waikato University, Dr D. Rogers. The Government was represented by Mr J. F. Luxton, M.P. for Piako and Mrs Luxton, while the opposition was represented by Mr P. B. Reweti, M.P. for Eastern Maori, and Mrs Reweti.

During the memorial service in which clergymen from many denominations took

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part, a wreath was placed at the base of the King Mahuta memorial by Mr Luxton. The sermon was preached by Mr H. Thompson of Ngatira.

Following this service, the Queen led the gathering into the Throne Room of the Kauwhanganui where further prayers were said. Visitors were then invited to view the valuable and indeed most interesting documents on display. Photos of members of the Maori legislature, long since departed, adorned the walls of the Throne Room, while the Throne itself was indeed a magnificent display of Maori skill. A prominent feature of the display of documents was the masterly handwriting of accomplished penmen.

Official guests were entertained by a local group who sang songs composed, appropriately, by Mrs Alice Whauwhau of Ngati Haua, especially for the occasion; also assisting in the entertainment was a group from Temple View. A collection of Maori waiatas, also composed for the occasion by Mrs Kiri Neha, were sung by the hosts.

The celebrations were brought to a close with everyone taking part in a traditional Maori feast of hangi pork and all those delicious things that go with it.

Health League Conference

The Women's Health League Conference at Muriwai in early September was attended by 150 delegates from the 15 branches in the Tairawhiti Rotorua, Mataatua and Te Teko districts, and presided over by its founder, Nurse R. T. Cameron.

Among the topics discussed were the abolition of Maori seats in Parliament, extended drinking hours, the ‘milk in schools’ scheme, holiday accommodation at meeting houses, children appearing in court, and education. All branches of the league now operate play centres, and the value of this movement was emphasized.

After a memorial service, trees were planted to commemorate the passing of Mr Steve Watene and Mr Peta Brown. A third tree marked the league's 30th birthday.

Members of the Maori Women's Welfare League had the task of judging entries in the 50 sections of the competition. Ten of the league's 40 trophies are for action song, haka and poi competition, one is for the best of the secretaries, reports, and the rest are for handcraft.

Nurse Cameron

Known throughout the East Coast and Rotorua areas as ‘Nurse’, Miss R. T. Cameron has become an almost legendary figure in her own lifetime.

Retired from active nursing after many years of caring for the health and welfare of the mainly Maori communities on the East Coast, Miss Cameron still maintains an active interest in the welfare of the Maori women in her work as founder and president of the Women's Health League.

Miss Cameron trained at the old Cook Hospital, Gisborne, and began her nursing career when she joined Queen Alexandra's Nursing Service, nursing in England, Egypt and Sinai throughout Allenby's campaign during the First World War, for five years.

In 1920, she began district nursing on the East Coast, when all her visiting was done on horseback. Many Coast residents have interesting tales to tell of Nurse Cameron's adventures and indomitable spirit.

That her work was appreciated was shown when she became the first district nurse to have a car. The vehicle was bought for her by the Maori people from Opotiki to Cape Runaway, and presented to the hospital board.

Miss Cameron went later to Rotorua and then, as nurse inspector, to Hamilton. In 1947, after a period in Auckland, she was sent to Britain by the Labour Department to recruit suitable women as nurses and domestics. This was the period of severe rationing in England.

On her return late in 1949, Miss Cameron retired from nursing, and has since devoted all her time to the affirs of the Women's Health League, which she founded in 1937.

Miss Cameron has been awarded the M.B.E., and the Royal Red Cross for her services.

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