Thames High School Maori Club
Regional Fifth and Sixth Form Seminar
At the end of July, Thames High School became the venue of one of the most interesting and successful fifth and sixth form Maori students, conferences ever held in the country. Over 100 pupils from Paeroa, Waihi, Tauranga, Mt. Maunganui, Matamata, Morrinsville, Te Aroha, Ngaruawahia, Hauraki Plains, Te Kauwhata and Huntly, spent a worthwhile weekend in Thames arranged by the Student Maori Club under the guidance of Messrs Stewart, M. Bryan (Vice-Principal), T. Turoa, J. Turoa, M. Renata, H. Tukukino, P. Williams, T. Loney (Principal), Misses K. Barrett, D. Stewart, E. Cooney, C. Dunlop, L. Taylor, A. Harper and M. Renata.
The pupils were billeted by the local people, and the conference and catering were held at the High School. The conference was opened on Friday night and the sessions continued until Sunday midday, finishing with a hangi and a church service.
After the mihi, where Mr Loney, Principal of Thames High School, welcomed all members, Mr M. Te Hau, B.A. (Auckland University) spoke on Aims and Standards in Education where he said that all people must have the ability to communicate in order to lead a full life. He said that there was a greater need for education in a type of society which would require even more in the future, an adult that was well qualified. It was important, therefore, that the school should be the focal point of the community for all pupils and all parents.
‘It is true,’ he said ‘that education prepares you for the future but that is only half the story. Indeed the religious side of man cannot be divorced from everyday life. There are pressures from society and Government on the individual, and education in its fullest sense gives you the capacity to deal with these pressures in such a way that can be of service both to yourself and to your community. It is necessary to develop all sides of your character in music, sport, art and religion.’
Dr Sinclair (Hamilton) spoke on the Integration of Maori Cultural Aspects with that of the Dominant Pakeha Culture. Dr Sinclair gave a very lively and thought-provoking lecture, interspersed with Maori oratory, on certain Maori cultural aspects that could fit quite adequately into the present-day culture, so that the future New Zealand culture could be much more favourable and indeed unique. He told the students that higher education did not necessarily mean that one should throw away ‘Maoritanga’, but it was an integral and necessary part of one's own personality.
Mr John Dansey, a practising architect in Auckland, spoke on Education for Citizenship. He explained that a citizen was a member of a community and contributed his talents for the betterment of the community. ‘There are many citizens whom we can go to for information, such as lawyers, police, teachers, M.P.s, Post Offices, Government departments,’ he said. ‘We, as Maoris, tend to wait for others to starr the ball rolling but we cannot wait for others to start a Maori club. We must do this ourselves. It is up to us to carry on the tradition. The Maori is reluctant to join community clubs because he lacks English fluency and he is less confident with Pakehas. Education therefore, is essential for every member of the community so that he or she can help not only the family but also the community.’
After lunch on Saturday a panel of secondary school teachers (Miss M. Harrison Dip. F.A., J. Nicholls B.A., P. McLav M.A., A. Clarke B.A., and T. Royal M.A.) spoke on Methods of Study. The topics covered included the best methods of studying, the physical conditions necessary, how much time should be taken at night for swotting, the need to balance study with social activities, the problems of over-
crowding, the allocation of time, and examination techniques.
Dr Sinclair, Messrs Te Hau, Royal, Penfold and Turoa formed a panel on Understanding Maoritanga and the Future of the Maori Language.
It was pointed out that the values of ‘Maoritanga’ were basic human values of any culture but some aspects of these values were emphasized more in Maori culture, including language, the importance of kinship (whakapapa), land, historical traditions, loyalty to other Maoris and to Maori things, pride of race, pride and interest in art and crafts, the preference for group action, preference for Maori ‘kai’ such as sea foods, and the happy-go-lucky attitude towards time and money. The panel emphasized that there were many more aspects which could be considered a Maori way of life.
The students found that by far the greatest number of adults who attended Maori language classes were Pakeha people and they did this for many reasons, not the least out of sheer interest. They learnt also that there were 24 secondary schools and two universities teaching Maori language. The panel was unanimous in stating emphatically that a well-educated and respected Maori adult, both in the eyes of the Pakeha and Maori, is a person who has the skills and knowledge of both worlds. Indeed the Maori adult of the future, in possessing this knowledge, would have the ability and confidence to mix in Pakeha social groups and yet hold his head high on the marae. That is the person that all Maori pupils should strive to be like.
The first session on Sunday morning, after a most successful dance the night before, where every club gave items, including the Maori graduates, was a panel discussion on Vocational Opportunties made up of three Maori Vocational Guidance Officers, Mrs Charlotte Papesch, Miss Maria Mako and Mr Bob Koroheke. This panel was probably the most worthwhile of all. Among many other points the most important one was the need for high educational qualifications, so that a student could have a greater chance to select from the many jobs offered, the job which was rewarding and enjoyable.
The panel discussed various occupations and pointed out that appointment to a particular job was not only on qualifications but on how you applied and how you dressed, sat and spoke at the interview. The panel also discussed the need to branch out in many jobs rather than follow a trail blazed by other Maoris. Their discussions also touched upon not having an inferiority complex but an equality complex.
A University and Training College student panel of Katie Harrison (Ngati Porou), Willy Harrison (Nga Maniapoto), George Thomas (Aupouri) and Des O'Connor (Ngati Kahungunu) spoke on the Importance of Education. This session was chaired by Mr Vern Penfold B.A., Maori Studies lecturer at Auckland Teachers' Training College. The panel stressed that in our society we demand less and less of the unqualified type of labour. We need trained personnel who can qualify for the better jobs in New Zealand. Far too many of our Maori pupils are leaving school before they should; far too many who have the ability to become university students and thus enter the professions, are finding little compensation for the intelligence which they possess.
conferences of this nature should be encouraged.
After every session, students were given questions to discuss in groups. They were also encouraged to question, discuss and state their opinions. The conference gave students from as far away as Ngaruawahia and Tauranga the opportunity to discuss some of the problems that they face in gaining higher academic qualifications. Perhaps one of the most important aspects was that they had a chance to mix with Maori graduates and Maori university and training college students. Much inspiration and guidance was gained from them.
Furthermore, it gave an opportunity for teachers and parents to discuss their difficuties in relation to their pupils and children. It was rewarding to see so many parents—even from Tauranga (Mr & Mrs Bill Ohia, Mr Rolleston, etc.).
The conference also gave the students an opportunity to act as responsible people where they had to take the lead, such as in chairing a group or passing a vote of thanks.
If the conference has helped the pupils towards success then it has been through the efforts of all people concerned in Thames.
Kia ora Koutou e Ngati Maru!
T. K. Royal