Mr B. E. Souter
Mr B. E. Souter, who has been for over six years Deputy Secretary of the Maori and Island Affairs Department, retired at the end of 1968.
He began his Public Service career in the Public Trust Office in 1927, and after servcie with State Advances and Industries and Commerce, joined the Maori Affairs Department at Auckland in 1950. He became District Officer for Tokerau in 1954, and three years later came to Head Office as Assistant Secretary. He was made Deputy Secretary in 1962.
The new Deputy Secretary is Mr K. Laurence, who has been with the Department
Mr Souter was farewelled at Ngati Poneke Hall on 18 December. Referring to him as ‘the mainspring of the Department’, Mr J. McEwen spoke of him as an efficiency expert and a great man for ideas. He had been behind the Apprenticeship Training Scheme and had encouraged its expansion, the building of hostels, and assistance to Maori farmers. Quoting a proverb, The sky does not know how wide it is: the sea does not know how deep it is, Mr McEwen said he was ‘doubtful if the Maori people realise how much they owe this man. He doesn't know himself how much they owe to him.’
In thanking Mr Souter on behalf of the Maori people, Mr Matiu Rata said that people began to value things when they were going to lose them or had lost them, and all had a great deal to thank Mr Souter
for. They had a great deal of respect for his energy, ability and sincerity.
Mr A. McCready, speaking for Mr Hanan, who was ill, had noted Mr Souter's ambition to raise the status of young Maori men and women, saying ‘He has gone into it with everything he has.’
Replying, Mr Souter said that New Zealand's democratic government would continue to work well, so long as public servants gave loyal, efficient and self-effacing service to the government of the day. Acknowledging other speakers, he said, ‘I would not like you to think that I am a devotee of efficiency. It should always be tempered with humanity. It is not difficult to decide what should be done in the interests of efficiency, but it is difficult to decide what should be done efficiently in the interests of people.’ Commenting on the role of the Department, he said it should not be regarded as a fatherly figure, guiding the future of the Maori people. ‘Progress lies in themselves. The Department can only create favourable conditions.’