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No. 65 (December 1968)
– 5 –

LETTERS

Te Rangikaheke's Manuscript

The Editor,
‘Te Ao Hou’

Dear Madam:

It is good to have more of Te Rangikaheke manuscripts readily available. Miss Orbell is to be congratulated on her competent editing and translations.

On page 9 of Te Ao Hou No. 62 Miss Orbell mentions the Maori word waahu referring to a very dark person. It was used by Te Rangikaheke, apparently to refer to American negroes. Interestingly enough the word probably derives from the the name of an island in the Hawaiian group, now known as Oahu, a corruption of O Ahu or as a Maori would say ko Ahu ‘it is Ahu’. As a number of early observers noted (including Te Rangikaheke in the selection under discussion) Hawai'ians were among the darkest of the Polynesian islanders. They were known in the Marquesas, and perhaps elsewhere in Polynesian, as Vaahu (or Waahu) after the corrupted version of the name of the island on which Honolulu stands.

In New Zealand, apparently, the word came to mean not just a native of Hawaii, but a person of very dark complexion.

It is interesting to speculate whether Te Rangikaheke's friend Maui Tione, which is to say Maui John, came from the island of Maui, another island in the Hawaiian group.

Yours sincerely

,

Bruce Biggs

.
University of Hawaii.

The Editor,
‘Te Ao Hou’

Dear Madam:

In the past there have been many sketches, poems, stories, articles and even novels written about the Maori, most of them I'm sure, written with the author feeling that he or she had registered, if not an entire, well a certain amount of truth.

This might be so, but personally I always read these writings with a feeling of apprehension and, forgive me, a certain amount of contempt for he who dares to tread the sacred ground of my people. This shows bias on my part I know, but I feel the one person who is legitimately and objectively suited to criticise any one race is a member of that particular race.

I feel then that although a lot has been written about the Maori by the Pakeha in the past, and is probably being written now and will continue to be written in the future, and a lot of it written from firsthand knowledge at that, to me it is like a man standing on the outside of a huge glass enclosure looking in, observing the goings on of the inhabitants in there. He can see everything that is taking place, but he misses out on the one vital factor. He does not experience with these inhabitants. He is not subjected to the many and varied physical and emotional changes going on in there. He misses those little subtleties that are so vital to these inhabitants and make all the difference to living. Here then is where I feel the Pakeha falls short when he comes to writing about the Maori. Even should he have been brought up in a densely Maori populated area, the fact still remains that he is a Pakeha and not a Maori, and that being Pakeha he cannot realize those subtle emotions that go on within the hearts of his subjects.

Therefore, I feel that the true Maori can only be caught and written about by the Maori himself, because that person, should he have the ability to express himself in words, will unlike the Pakeha, be writing from within that glass enclosure and not merely observing from without. And he will not only be writing about the obvious motives that cause people to act, but also about the not so obvious. He will be writing about the Maori as a human being and not merely as a group or type.

Rowley Habib