THE MAORI PEOPLE IN THE NINE-
TEEN-SIXTIES: a symposium edited by Erik Schwimmer
The Maori People in the Nineteen-Sixties is a collection of essays by 15 contributors. The main emphasis is on the changes that have taken place in the period from 1940 to the present. The editor, Erik Schwimmer, writes that it was decided ‘not to study the Maori as though they formed a self-contained group, but to concentrate on the relationship between the Maori minority and the Pakeha majority’. He points out that since Maori and Pakeha to a significant extent form two distinct social groups, and since these groups are in frequent intensive contact with one another, what looks like a “Maori problem” is likely to be ‘essentially a strain or stress between the two groups, or resulting tension within groups and within individuals’.
This is to say that a study of the Maori must also take into account the Pakeha, and the relationships existing between Maori and Pakeha. This is an important point that has not always been fully understood or explored in the past. It was an excellent idea to take it as the basis for a book of this kind.
Scholars and writers were invited to choose an area of intercultural stress, and to analyse it. There is an impressive line-
up of experts, who write on a wide variety of subjects. For example, John Harre writes about Maori-Pakeha intermarriage. His study of mixed marriages taking place in Auckland gives us much interesting information about them. In the year in which he conducted his survey, 42 per cent of the Maoris who married in Auckland, married Pakehas. The evidence available suggests that Maori-Pakeha marriages are no more liable to breakdown than any others, and that those in-laws who at first opposed the marriage, nearly always lost their prejudiced attitudes once a close relationship was established.
I. H. Kawharu, also writing about Auckland, discusses the relationship existing between tangata whenua and Maori immigrants coming to live in the city. He describes the complex situation in which each group finds itself, and points out that the relationship between the two groups, which is fundamentally a new one, is of much importance in the development of stable Maori organisation in urban areas. Despite their differences, the two groups have many interests in common. In particular, there are two needs that they both share. These are, firstly, benefits accruing from regional and national organisations; and secondly, a marae serving as the indispensable stage for social occasions.
The growth of the Maori population and its movements to the cities are examined by J. R. McCreary, who notes that in assessing population growth, one problem concerns the widely varying legal definitions of a ‘Maori’. Some definitions include half-castes; some include any descendant of a Maori; and in at least one regulation, a European married to a Maori may be administratively regarded as a Maori.
There are several theoretical contributions. Ralph Piddington discusses the processes by which pre-literate societies adjust to European culture, and the different senses in which the term ‘integration’ may be understood. A short article by the late Ernest Beaglehole covers somewhat similar ground, but comes to rather different conclusions. A long introductory essay by Erik Schwimmer discusses ‘The Aspirations of the Contemporary Maori’, and John Forster writes on ‘The Social Position of the Maori’.
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John Forster's article is very clearly written and is, I think, especially interesting. He briefly reviews the social and economic changes experienced by the Maori in the last 200 years, and shows how similar the Maori situation has become to the situation of native populations in other ‘settlement colonies’ such as the United States, Canada and Australia. In this way he puts the matter in a broader perspective, showing that the position of the Maori population is not unique in either its origins or its present condition. He makes several other points that seem of particular importance. One is that the position of the Pakeha population is constantly changing, and that the pressure of international events beyond New Zealand's control will force changes upon us all, Pakeha and Maori alike. He also (like several other writers in the book) emphasises the complexity and diversity of Maori experience. There is much variation from one part of the country to another; and there is much uncertainty as to who in fact is a Maori. In view of this, and because the Maori position does so much resemble that of other indigenous minority groups, he suggests the possibility that ‘the peculiarities which can be isolated in the psyche of the Maori are not a function of their being Maori, but are, instead, the result of being poor’.
There are useful essays by Ian Prior on questions on health; James and Jane Ritchie on patterns of child-rearing; James Ritchie on Maori work and employment, and associated values; and Erik Schwimmer on ‘The Maori and Government’. Bruce Biggs writes on ‘The Maori Language Past and Present’, dealing with such topics as the dialects of Maori, its relationships with other Polynesian languages, its grammar and literature. In an account of the effects of the education system, Professor Biggs tells how the Native Schools Amendment Act of 1871
‘marked the beginning of the policy of prohibiting the use of Maori in the schools, with the aim of replacing Maori by English as the language not only of the school but of all situations…. The Education Department declared total war on the Maori language’. He describes the present situation, discusses the thorny topic of the long vowel controversy, and considers the future of the language: ‘As its general use declines it may well be that its ritual and ceremonial use will become more important. It is certain that scholarly study of the language will increase, for it seems in the nature of things that we value our treasures most as they pass from us’.
Katarina Mataira discusses the changes taking place in Maori art forms, and describes the work of some contemporary Maori artists. Bill Pearson traces Pakeha attitudes towards the Maori as they are reflected in literature during the years 1938–65, and also discusses recent writing by Maoris. Arapera Blank, in an essay that is also a short story, provides a vivid memorable account of culture conflict within an individual. In an article entitled ‘Maori Kings’, Pei Te Hurinui Jones has written a most valuable account of the Maori King Movement. This is an important contribution to Maori history, and will be of permanent value.
The Maori People in the Nineteen-Sixties contains so much excellent material on such a wide range of subjects that it will be an indispensable book for the serious student of Maori matters.
THE END OF THE HARBOUR
Elsie Locke has made a good show of turning the history books' pages into real people whose words and actions will catch the imagination of youthful readers.
The story is seen through the eyes of a young English lad, David Learwood, whose father and mother have come from England to work in the hotel in Waiuku, at that time a British Trading Post on the fringe of the Pakeha settlement in the Manakau Harbour.
The book is about the growing pains of the new settlement and their effect on Pakeha and Maori. The Pakehas' wish to extend their holding is balanced by the Maoris' fear that their land will be taken by force as rumours of fighting in Taranaki cause mounting tension throughout the colony. Matters are brought more to a head when Eriata is found, shot dead. Evidence points to a British settler and it is only after a display of reason and oratory by an elder that the young Maoris are restrained from seeking their own revenge. The Maoris pin their hopes on the British law which they accepted with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and they are sadly disillusioned by it. As the book closes, the Waikato people and the British are headed towards an inevitable war.
The author is unobtrusive, allowing the story to unfold itself through the happenings witnessed by David Learwood. For example, the narrator does not directly describe the effects of European diseases on the Maori population; we see for ourselves as David does when he goes out in the middle of the night to help the doctor tending the sick. More subtly revealed are the ideas and attitudes of the people amongst whom David lives. These are mostly brought to our understanding through snatches of conversation overheard by David, and a good deal of the Maori viewpoint becomes increasingly clear as we follow the adventures of his friend Hona. Attitudes are also brought out by such things as the Pakeha reluctance to allow the Maori congregation into their church, the uncomprehending feeling of hurt this produces and the Maoris' gradual realisation that some ostensibly religious people are in fact hypocritical. We see the ignorance and fear of a section of the Pakeha community through the reactions of David's mother who won't go outside the hotel because she is scared of the natives and doesn't like her son to mix with them. We learn of Maori social values and customs when the compassionate Maori-speaking Dr Topp talks to David of his medical practice among Maoris and Pakehas and when the patient old Ahipene thinks aloud to David.
The vocabulary and sentence structure of this short novel are bright, clear, and easy to read. The characters are clearly outlined and if they are a little uncomplicated to be identifiable with living people as we know them, it is all in the interests of simplicity. Besides, this sort of presentation has the advantage of allowing the characters to stand for groups in the community which is the world of the story, instead of standing alone as individuals who represent only themselves.
I have some doubts about the pace of the novel. It may move a little slowly for the younger readers who will take events and words at face value without seeing how they reflect the thoughts and anxieties of the people concerned. On the other hand it may be that such a reader would be led on by the nose to the end of the book as Elsie Locke makes him curiouser and curiouser to see just what does lie around the corner as the story takes another twist or turn.
I cannot hope to appraise the historical accuracy of The End of the Harbour but the author's grounding in writing for the Department of Education's School Publications Branch will, I am sure, have made it instinctive for her to check her facts. It is evident from the author's acknowledgements that she has spent a good deal of time in research in libraries in several parts of the country and in talking to descendants of the people she writes about in this book. She spent her own childhood in Waiuku. There is a ring of authenticity about the story's portrayal of Maori life as it was then without degrading it to the level of a tourist attraction for overseas readers to gawk at.
A good Christmas present if you want to show a younger reader that New Zealand's colonial history is about people and not just dates and documents.
GUIDE RANGI OF ROTORUA
Who is Guide Rangi? Read her book and you will know the answer.
Guide Rangi is written in such a simple and easy to read style that even children can enjoy it. The many photographs of Rangi provide interesting material — especially the ones of her taken with different members of the Royal Family.
In her book, Guide Rangi begins by saying, … ‘I was born in the fashion of my ancestors, in a tiny thatched house at Ngapuna…. ‘Then she goes on to relate her early life as a ‘tapu’ child.
She tells of Te Wairoa and Teariki, the two villages on beautiful Lake Tarawera and the disaster that struck when Tarawera erupted in 1886.
Her grandfather Tene was a Ringatu, and his religion influenced her younger life so much that she respectfully writes about it in her book.
Her account of penny divers and their, ‘Throw a penny here’, and ‘a penny a haka’, makes interesting reading.
Rangi's early school days at Whakarewarewa were something to remember. She was different. She was tapu; so the other children had to be careful. However, her schooling did not suffer. This was largely due to the guiding influence of her teachers, the Rev. Burgoyne and his three daughters, Connie, Nettie and Gertrude. Connie was their idol, as she could speak flawless Maori.
Rangitiaria pays tribute to the people who influenced her life; her grandfather Tene, Maggie Papakura, and Chief Nuta Taupopoki — … ‘like a sunburned Viking King …’
Rangi spent her secondary school years at Hukarere and from there she went teaching, but ill-health forced her to give it up. So nursing became her next occupation, but a recurrence of her old illness once more ruined a promising career. A very dejected Rangi went home to Whakarewerewa and tourism.
In the latter chapters, Guide Rangi tells how she became a guide; of Tene building her a home; of the small but dynamic Scottish district nurse, Sister R. T. Cameron; of the Arawa women uniting in response to tourism; of her wartime interest in ‘the boys’; of her globe-trotting experiences, and last but by no means least of her acting as guide to famous visitors.
Chapter 13 is devoted to Wakarewerewa today.
As I read Guide Rangi, I could almost see her giving all this wealth of information
to Ross Annabel, the man who so ably helped write her memoirs.
Finally, one can only assume that the book went to print before Guide Rangi was awarded the O.B.E. for her services to the Maori people.
A NIGHT AT GREEN RIVER
The dust jacket of Noel Hilliard's latest novel tells us that his earlier novels have been praised by the Times Literary Supplement, by Geoffrey Moorhouse in the Guardian, by Professors J. C. Reid (Auckland University), and Joan Stevens (Victoria University of Wellington), and H. Winston Rhodes (Canterbury University). I am sure this one will be just as widely acclaimed.
The story itself is very simple and unfolds during the short space of an afternoon and a night. During those few hours the author has shown what the ‘Maoriness’ of the Maori is and what he thinks of the Pakeha. It shows fairly and without sympathy the ‘Pakehatanga’ of the cow cocky Clyde Hastings and his weary day-dreaming wife; his uncompromising set of monetary values and her atrophied affection and emotions. Clyde asks Tiwha Morris and his relatives to ‘do a job for him’ — to help him get his hay in when they have finished their own. Politely they accept. ‘I'll offer them ten bob an hour and make any broken time up to the hour.’ He offers a ‘fair day's wage for a fair day's work’. Later Tiwha was to muse, ‘He could have said — “I have a lot of hay to shift and I cannot do it on my own as you very well know; will you lend me a hand?” But he did not. He chose to say instead — “I will lease you, HIRE you for an hour, two hours….” ‘Tiwha ‘could never hold out his hand for notes and coins without hearing the unspoken comment on the transaction — “This is what you are worth to me.” ‘
Similarly, attitudes to such things as having children come out.
‘Ruby was Purei's sister. She had been in Auckland for a while working as a housemaid and got mixed up with some Pakeha and came home to have her baby. A good little fellow he was too, although too much tangi-tangi at times. He was an illegitimate baby. And was there an illegitimate tree, too, for instance, or an illegitimate bird, or an illegitimate flower?’
Tiwha's relatives go inside when they have finished their hay. The meal is ready. The children play. The beer tastes good and they sing. Clyde Hastings and his hay recede to the back of the mind.
And there we might have left them: Clyde Hastings boiling with a bitter pecuniary rage as he hears the singing in the distance and watches the rain ruin his hay while his wife emerges from her private world of might-have-been long enough to infer — ‘I told you so’; and Tiwha and his friends living life to the full with kids, songs, beer, food, smells, tastes, and sounds. But the story takes a twist which brings both groups and both sets of values into a head-on crash. In the crisis which follows, we are shown how, when the chips are down, the differences don't matter — just as it was during the war in Egypt which Clyde and Tiwha both reflect upon as ex-soldiers. The fight between Clyde and Tu is a physical manifestation of their cultural collision. The upturning of the Hastings’ china cabinet during the fight in the ‘best room’ is an extravagant symbol of the sweeping aside of Clyde and Edith's dead-loss bric-a-brac, both the porcelain kind and the mental ones.
The story also brings home to the born city-dweller, be he Maori or Pakeha, the reality of the old tapus and conventions. Tiwha made certain he did not touch Martha's body while he and Roimata, his wife, helped her in labour. We go back to Tiwha's schooldays, when he wondered how the teacher couldn't see it was wrong to cuff him on the head instead of strapping him on the hand.
Noel Hilliard tells the story from the two viewpoints of Clyde and Tiwha. This book hits below the belt at both Maori and Pakeha. It is not to be read by those who want to believe that all Maoris are happy, loving, and genial; they would be upset by, say, Tu's drunken brutality. Nor would the book ring true for those who want all Pakehas to be seen as efficient, unfeeling, and greedy. The opposite stereotype — that Europeans are intelligent and industrious, while Maoris are slovenly and ‘inferior’ —
is equally demolished. At the climax of the story, at the moment of collision, all that is sheared off and the real people underneath are shown up.
The writing is exact and economical. The conversation is alive….
‘You must be using a front end loader to fill your bank with money, man.’
‘I've got no money.’
‘How for you getting TV then?’
‘It will be very nice to look at until the Pakeha come to take it back.’
The imagery is profuse and so pungent that after putting the book down, my head was spinning with colours, smells, sounds and pictures even though the novel is only a little longer than some short stories. There is a good sprinkling of Maori words and phrases throughout the conversation and a glossary might be of help to overseas readers and non-Maori-speaking New Zealanders who lamentably do not own a Maori dictionary, or unfortunately have no Maori friends from whom they would hear these terms.
My sole criticism is that towards the end of the book the pungency of the imagery and the symbolism may be a little overwhelming — it might be poured on a bit thick — but the shortness of the novel prevents the author from getting out of his depth in this respect.
The moral of the story, if there is one, is that neither the Maori or Pakeha way of looking at things is better or worse than the other — just different.
The book is exciting, carries a hefty thump and in parts is very funny. I could not put it down until I had finished reading it.