THE ART OF TANIKO WEAVING
The first thing to be said about this book is to welcome it on two counts. First, as Dr Mead himself points out, it is a revised and considerably enlarged version of his Taniko Weaving: How to Make Maori Belts and Other Useful Articles. Those who are interested in learning taniko weaving will thus find this book a real asset. Instructions
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are provided in an appendix together with beautifully drawn diagrams of each stage in the weaving process. The interest and value of the book, however, lie beyond these, its immediate practicalities. In fact this aspect is secondary to its main concern, which is to show taniko as an art form in relation to its social and historical background. This is the second reason for welcoming the book. Taniko has been the subject of several studies, but it has never before been examined in relation to its social and cultural context.
The introductory chapter describes Maori costume in general. This is followed by a description of the traditional taniko technique, the materials used, and their detailed preparation. An analysis of the technique itself is shown as a local development from the ‘single pair twine’ common to other areas of Polynesia. The next chapter is devoted to the historical development of the art and discusses the changing character of taniko through three time periods—the Classical, Transitional and Modern. Here Dr Mead demonstrates a clearly identifiable sequence of change, which incidentally is concomitant with changes in the social organisation of the people. New motifs and particularly, new materials are combined with the traditional, becoming only minor additions at first, but eventually displacing the traditional materials and techniques altogether. Traditional patterns or arrangements of the same appear to be the only elements to resist change. This is evident in the fact that today, modern patterns which may incorporate new motifs, are still based upon the classical inventory of motifs.
The following chapter is a provocative discussion of style and is further highlighted by the presentation for the first time of the little known pre-classical style of taniko. Contrary to assumptions which have been made concerning its simplicity, it is here
shown to be a highly complex and sophisticated art form. As such it deserves the attention of all who are interested in art and material culture. The next chapter classifies all known patterns on the basis of dominant motifs and is an extension of Buck's earlier classification, which used internal cultural information as the basic criteria. The result is a much more meaningful interpretation of taniko motifs.
Throughout, the book is well illustrated with photographs and diagrams that are essential to a study of this kind. A very large tribute must be paid to the excellence of both, in terms of clarity and attention to detail.
Finally the result of this book is a picture of taniko, not only as a vital and dynamic art form, but as a medium for expressing symbolically the ideas and beliefs of the people. Dr Mead is to be congratulated for his lucid and scholarly discussion, and for his contribution to that school of thought which maintains that, irrespective of the sundry specifics of its relations, art is always an integral part of culture—never a thing apart.
THE SHADOW OF THE LAND—a study
of British policy and racial conflict in
New Zealand, 1832–1852
The author first set out to write a history of the army in New Zealand, but because the initiation of military enterprise in this country cannot be divorced from its early history, the book was greatly broadened in concept. The result has been a vivid record of the political and social times surrounding the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Underlying the whole is Maori mistrust of European intentions, influenced and intensified by their own overriding desires to acquire European materials and advantages, for which the only acceptable exchange was their land.
As the sub-heading of the book indicates, it is ‘a study of British policy and racial conflict in New Zealand, 1832–1852’. Policy and conflict activated each other. Conflict areas are located in North Auckland, Wellington, Wanganui and briefly, though significantly, in Nelson. It is associated almost wholly with the land.
First chapters cover the early negotiations and developments in the acquisition of the new colony and by page 40, we are brought into Treaty of Waitangi times and the dark clouds of impending conflict in the North. The author gives new significance to this treaty, conceived in the interests of imperial policy, yet so phrased as to present a charter of ideal co-existence between two peoples at widely separated points in the time-scale of civilization. The chameleon nature of the words is not readily apparent, certainly Maori unsophistication was no match for it at the time, and the author goes to some length to clarify a situation which he claims has been falsely represented to five generations of Maori people.
Disillusionment came quickly to some. Nopera Panakareao, a christianised Kaitaia chief of great influence, said at the signing of the Treaty, ‘The shadow of the land goes to Queen Victoria, but the substance remains to us’. Less than a year later he was to say, ‘The substance of the land goes to the Europeans, the shadow only will be our portion’. By the time that Governor Grey had arrived, so much blurring of Treaty ink had occurred that he found nothing incompatible with it in his instructions ‘to foster the education of the Maori and to consider his feelings and prejudices, but only when these were not inconsistent with the peace and welfare of colonists of European descent … to require implicit subjection to the law, and if necessary to enforce that submission by the use of all powers, civil and military at his command’. Grey was not slow to take advantage of the extreme in his instructions, and in spite of the warnings of officials and missionaries, that the continued violation of Maori rights might result in a united Maori front instead of the isolated resistance of a few chiefs, he virtually gave the colonists a free hand in the acquisition of Maori land. Less than five years after the signing of the Treaty, the Maori had become a second-class citizen in his own land and there was rebellion from Wairau to Kororareka, through the Wellington district and in Wanganui. Taranaki, Waikato and Tauranga were in a state of unrest. As a promise of peaceful co-
existence the Treaty had been an illusion.
The illusionary character of the Treaty was perpetuated by Government policy. New thoughts on the government of subject peoples by ‘moral suasion’ rather than by military supremacy were current at the time. It promulgated an idealistic code of humane dealing with uncivilized subject peoples. It had its essence in consent to sovereignty without military coercion, and the welfare and advancement of the subject race foremost. The fact of the Treaty and the absence of troops at the time certainly gave some substance to ‘moral suasion’, but the author claims that as a genuine policy, it was a myth. At best it was an inference drawn from Hobson's and Fitzroy's attempts to come to terms with the situation that badly needed military support, and we ought not to suppose that idealistic principles were dictating a reluctance to use force. Evidence goes to show that actually they were searching for troops, which for various reasons were not immediately available. This does not imply that Hobson and Fitzroy did not have real personal convictions about the value of ‘moral suasion’. The characters of both these men suggest that they did, but farsightedness in weighing up the practicability of ‘moral suasion’ against doubtful advantage did the colonising image no harm. Whatever the practicability of ‘moral suasion’, and it is possible that it would have been successful in the New Zealand context, few people apart from the unsophisticated Maori of the time would have been naive enough to suppose that the European settler and the Government were going to willingly submit to a policy that would eventually do more for the subject race than for themselves. Grey was to explode the ‘moral suasion’ illusion completely when the long awaited troops did arrive. He made it clear enough then that there never was any intention to consider the Maori a British subject on the same level as the European settler.
Conflict in the North centred in the struggles of Hone Heke, aided by Kawiti and Pomare, against a government now in command of military detachments and supported by Tamati Waka Nene. It is interesting to recall how school history texts so dictated our conception of the events at this time that Hone Heke was depicted as
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TRADITIONAL MAORI CLOTHING DR. S. M. MEAD This important book contains a description of the full range of clothing and decoration studied against the background of Maori history. Written by a distinguished Maori scholar, it is a comprehensive, fully illustrated survey that will be a standard reference book for years to come. $6.95
CAPTAIN COOK IN NEW ZEALAND A. H. & A. W. REED (Editors) The full text of Captain Cook's own account of his three visits to New Zealand. Taken from his Journals it describes the great explorer's first landfall, his meetings with the Maori people and the following travels and adventures. Many notes, essays, illustrations, maps and a folding chart. $4.95
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either a treacherous, bloodthirsty rebel, second only to that other arch-rebel Hongi Hika in villainy, or as a nuisance and a trouble-maker with a wanton compulsion to cut down flagstaff's and burn out towns. We may well decide after re-reading evidence, that Heke emerges as a tragic figure of certain heroic proportions. He had a burning conviction that British sovereignty was synonymous with European alienation of Maori land. It was no easy road that he chose, to maintain militant defiance in the face of threatened punitive confiscation of his lands, to suffer the systematic destruction of his undefended pas, to fight at the same time a frontal attack against one enemy and a rearguard action against his own tribal kinsman. Accounts of the engagements at Ohaeawai and at Ruapekapeka stir the imagination about the generalship of this man.
Our history books were hazy too about details of the sacking of Kororareka. They neglected to tell us that British warships bombarded the deserted town of Kororareka while Maori troops watched impassively from the surrounding hills, that these vital shots did appreciable damage and actually precipitated the sacking of the town, that Heke carefully excluded the missionaries and the settlers' families from attack, that he gave orders for the preservation of the church, and that he sent Signalman Tapper's wife and child down to safety when the blockhouse was taken. The petulance, instability and treachery attributed to Heke by the government might as easily have been applied to Waka Nene by Heke. Kawiti claimed that Waka Nene's loyalty to the government sprang from private differences with Heke and that he constantly exploited the situation to wipe out old scores and grudges.
Hostilities in the North subsided into an uneasy peace after the battle at Ruapekapeka and the military detachments could now be utilized in the already explosive situation in Wellington. Whereas British sovereignty vested in the government had been the opposition in the Northern disputes, conflict in Wellington was almost entirely between Wakefield's Land Company settlers and the Maori occupants of the area. British troops were used to protect Company interests and support their claims. Fitzroy's irksome halter of the Company's unrestricted acquisition of Maori land had been removed with the arrival of a new governor, and new horizons of hope had opened up for the settlers.
The involved situation of Maori land tenure in the Wellington district resulted largely from Te Rauparaha's movements in the area. The reader should be familiar with the ancestral lands of the tribes involved in the hostilities before trying to follow the land negotiations. The interplay of reference to Ngati Toa, Ngatiawa, Ngati Raukawa etc., may be confusing. There was no unity of action among the tribes, a factor that lessened chances of success and hastened European occupation.
Te Rangihaeata was the Hone Heke of the south. Te Rauparaha, more or less quiescent at this period, plays a relatively small part. Devious man that he was, Grey was always suspicious of the guile in anyone else, and it was the astute move of a very astute man when he made the ageing warrior his prisoner. But whether or not it was a wise move depends upon whether the following wave of mistrust that permeated Maori attitudes to any European move can be sheeted home to this particular incident.
The most distasteful aftermath of the Wellington conflict was the courts martial of captured Maori prisoners and their punishment by hanging and transportation. That did its part in intensifying Maori opposition and bitterness in Wanganui.
Tribal fragmentation in Wanganui was complex, and troubles arose when areas of Maori and European occupation were neither understood nor clearlv defined by either side. Many of the chiefs had taken part in the Wellington disputes and bitterness over the courts martial still rankled. The Christian mission was firmly established among the river tribes and in the midst of hostile preparations on both sides, a Christmas Day service for 2,000 Maoris brought 382 to receive the sacrament. The sporadic guerilla nature of Maori warfare was frustrating to the stockaded British troops. An even greater annoyance was the Maori resourcefulness in ‘living off the land’. Their strategy was to send two or three men out to show themselves and goad the soldiers into firing at them. The decoys then sprang on the unexploded shells, gathered them up and made for
cover. The help to their own meagre stock of ammunition must have been considerable, for the Rev. Taylor records that one such sortie netted them 63 musket balls and 4 lbs of powder.
Throughout the book, the author describes missionary influence as a great civilizing force. The missionaries were forthright in their condemnation of unscrupulous land deals. They fought a constant battle to enforce the letter of the Treaty. They moderated in inter-tribal disputes and influenced to no small degree the breaking down of lingering pockets of resistance. But there were those among them who were not above testing Maori action against their own interests in the name of Chrisitian duty. Grey's exhortation to Maori claimants to give up the Hutt land to European settlers found gratifying support when the Rev. Taylor obtusely took for his text a chapter from Timothy, which reminded Christians of their duty to yield to governors.
It was unfortunate that the Maori was to get such early initiation into European double standards. He had not yet become familiar with nominal Christianity. On the same Christmas Day when a service brought 382 Maoris from a population of 2,000 to receive communion, a similar service in the township for 400 troops and settlers attracted 20. It could not have escaped Maori notice that Europeans appeared to take to heart the maxim ‘the better the day, the better the deed’. Dates in the author's documentation reveal that from the North to the Hutt Valley, Sunday was the auspicious day for launching a military offensive. It was also the preferred day for stockade building in Wanganui. Maori Christians must have found this difficult to reconcile with keeping holy the sabbath. Two incidents of plundering and destruction which occurred during the period under review are interesting for their treatment of Christian property. One, the sacking of Kororareka by Hone Heke is known to every schoolboy as a fact of New Zealand history. The other may have escaped publication altogether except in this book. A detachment of British soldiers attacked the unoccupied Ngati Rangatahi pa in the Hutt Valley, and after plundering the homes, set fire to the pa. There was a significant difference in the two operations. At Kororareka the only building left standing and unviolated was the church; in the Hutt Valley, the Maori chapel was desecrated and destroyed in the general conflagration.
There is so much in this book that draws new significance from a re-appraisal of evidence that the reader finds himself with exciting, new concepts of early New Zealand history. It is a provocative book. Events and personalities that have hitherto intrigued the student of early New Zealand history because they lacked a comprehensible Maori association with reality are shuffled more satisfactorily into perspective. Fitzroy, Busby, Hobson, Te Rauparaha, Hone Heke, Te Rangihaeata, Te Wherowhero, Waka Nene, Te Heuheu, Te Mamaku, Wakefield, Grey, the missionaries, the military commanders, the land arbitrators, all come into the sweep of the author's microscope and gain or lose brilliance in doing so. It dwells longest and most searchingly on Governor Grey, that complex and gifted man, egotist, able governor, superb politician, arch dissimulator, self-professed friend of the Maori, yet to quote from the book, who ‘lied on so many occasions concerning his land purchases that no completely satisfactory account of these yet exists’.
It is a considerable volume of almost 400 pages, well documented by clearly numbered foot-notes and possessing an excellent index arrangement at the end. Illustrations and maps are thoughtfully chosen or prepared and add considerably to the interest of the book. It is a scholarly presentation and aptness and clarity of expression contribute greatly to its readability. It would be exciting to read this author's assessment of the decade preceding the period under review and the years that followed when the wave of disillusionment swept the conflict to new heights in Taranaki and the Waikato.
This is a valuable and rewarding book for the young Maori to read. Cause and effect of the conflicts have cast long shadows. It is not difficult to date the time, almost 100 years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, when the Maori was beginning to emerge from his second class citizenship to political parity with his European neighbour. Nor has Nopera's shadow of the land gained in substance or lost any of its sombreness with the passing of more than a century.