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No. 71 (1973)
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BOOKS

TRADITIONAL MAORI CLOTHING

In 1970 a pageant was held in the Auckland Museum under the name of ‘Mauri Ora ‘70’, during which a major part of the programme displayed both pre-European and post-European clothing of the Maori. In 1971, to mark the Centenary of the City of Auckland, a similar pageant was held in the Town Hall. On both occasions, present to direct the pageants was Dr S. M. Mead. It was appropriate that Dr Mead should direct both pageants, for he is today regarded as one of the foremost experts on traditional Maori clothing.

The book ‘Traditional Maori Clothing’, contains the most comprehensive and detailed account of Maori clothing ever published, containing four major sections. It is ‘a study of technological change’ of Maori clothing. As the preface records, it is a study of clothing based on a corpus of material which includes ethnographical accounts, museum collections, early pictorial records, photographic files and some extensive field work carried out by the author. Much of the material relevant to the modern period has been seen by the author in the so-called Maori Cultural Competitions.

The foreword, written by Ernest S. Dodge of the Peabody Museum of Salem, Massachusetts, records that research and publication on the subject of early Maori clothing ‘has not lacked for students in the past. Names of such giants as Hamilton, Roth, Best and Buck come to mind. With these men the study of weaving and clothing reached a particular plateau of excellence—a level not exceeded for many years.’ Now Sydney Mead carries this study on to a still higher plane.

‘Traditional Maori Clothing’ will prove of inestimable value to all who are interested in what is now loosely termed ‘Maori Culture’. There is no doubt that Dr Mead has spent hours on research and study. There are no less than fifteen pages of illustrations which range from material found in pre-European days through to the 1960s, and it is interesting to note the marked change in Maori clothing at official receptions throughout this period. Some of the clothing listed is to be found today only in museums and in a few private collections, and I am convinced that as a result of this monumental work by Dr Mead, those who are closely associated with and take an active part in the preservation of Maori culture will rely a great deal on this book for guidance in the dress of Maori cultural groups of today.

There are also some classical terms for various garments of the Maori which only ethnologists and the very few who still have knowledge of the weaving of Maori garments, would know. To the average Maori the korowai is the only garment worthy of mention, simply because this garment is often used, even today, by Maori cultural clubs. And yet there are scores of others, and names such as parawai, nekoneko, kahu toi, and whanake are foreign to modern Maori ears.

It is difficult enough to acquire from our elders some knowledge of local history. It must have been extremely difficult for Dr Mead to acquire the material which he has gathered and collated in this book, and because of this the Maori people, in particular, are indebted to Dr Mead for Traditional Maori Clothing which will undoubtedly prove of lasting value.

Dr Mead of course, is already well known as a historian and his previous books on The Art of Maori Carving, The Art of Weaving, etc., are equally well known to those who take an active interest in the art of the Maori. I congratulate Dr Mead and extend sincere gratitude for this work and I commend the book to all those who have any connection with Maori cultural groups, as well as an interest in the material culture of the Maori—yesterday and today.

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LINGUISTIC FACTORS IN MAORI
EDUCATION—a report by Byron W.
Bender

N.Z.C.E.R., $1.50

Despite its imposing title, Bender's report is eminently readable for the interested layman as well as being of interest to those with some background in linguistics and/or the education system in New Zealand. All New Zealanders, particularly parents, will find its contents touch on matters which are very much on their doorsteps.

The foreword states that the purpose of the report is to provide an independent assessment of the need for research into the language difficulties of Maori schoolchildren. Dr Bender, a linguistics expert with the University of Hawaii, spent some time living in and travelling through New Zealand while gathering material for the report. He writes from first hand observation in the context of his professional background.

The report is intended mainly for those concerned with the administration of our school system, but should attract wider interest. The foreword traces the concern of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research for study in this field since the question was first raised by Sir Apirana Ngata in 1937. As is almost a foregone conclusion in these cases, the project has regrettably been beset by financial difficulties, but after the 1962 Currie Commission on Education's recommendation, the government accepted financial responsibility for this work. The Council also acknowledges its debt to the J. R. McKenzie Trust, the Golden Kiwi Lottery Fund, and the Carnegie Trust which have contributed to the cost.

Chapter 1. ‘A scientific outlook on language’, is a well-documented introduction to the essentials of linguistics as a science. It deals with the approaches to language as formulated by traditional grammarians, structural linguists, and the more recent generative transformational school — all in clear layman terms but still sophisticated enough to avoid criticisms from those in the trade of ‘popularising’ the subject. The message of this chapter is that a scientific approach to language is based on observation and drawing conclusions which can then be applied to the business of seeing what makes a language tick. ‘Languages, like women, were seen to have a logic of their own, which did not necessarily conform to any one system of formal logic.’ The chapter concludes with the thought that there is a need for teachers to be aware of the basic principles of linguistic study to help them appreciate language problems.

The next chapter, about language learning, outlines approaches to language teaching, emphasising the ‘Aural-oral’ methodology and the move away from dependence on a first language as a vehicle of instruction for the teaching of a second, to teaching through experience in the language being taught. This is in contrast to the translation methodology, and is embodied in John Waititi's Te Rangatahi series of Maori language textbooks. Modifications to the basic ‘Auraloral’ approach are intended to reduce distraction or ‘interference’ from the instructor and instruction method to enable the learner to work under his own steam. The author touches on the problem that an adult knows what he means to say, while a young child may not have sufficiently firm concepts to crystalise into definite ideas which in turn can be expressed in language form.

Chapter 3, ‘Bilingualism’ describes ‘compound bilinguilism’ where two languages are learnt simultaneously as ‘first’ languages, and ‘Co-ordinate bilingualism’ where the second language is learned through the medium of the first. There is also the much debated question of whether knowledge of one language can reduce skills in another—has the mind enough capacity to be highly proficient in both? This postulation is countered by the suggestion that there can be a situation of ‘balance’ where there is no interference on the part of one language with the other, provided both are learnt equally. Another suggestion, that bilingualism can reduce intelligence as measured in,

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say, problem-solving arithmetic, has also been hotly debated in linguistic circles. As an interesting aside, the fact that only a small minority of the world's population is truly monolingual is mentioned.

Normal language development, the subject of Chapter 4, is largely dependent on language ability developed in the pre-school years. What is learnt after that stage is refinement and development of essential basic skills. This process seems to take place almost naturally. ‘The only condition (for learning language) would seem to be exposure to examples of the language in use, and some motivation to use the language itself—which are part of what it means to be a physiologically normal individual in society’ (author's italics). The message for parents is obvious.

The processes involved in learning reading and writing are less clearcut but, as is stressed throughout the chapter, depend to a large degree on mastery of less advanced skills at an earlier age. There seems to be no obstacle to mastery of two languages at school but it is first necessary to learn to read and write well in one language so that the skills involved can be transferred to the second language. It is important to note that here the author is referring to the formal teaching of written language, and not the all-important matter of basic spoken language learned in the pre-school years. From this it follows that ‘The major rub would seem to come when a child who has had normal pre-school monolingual development in one language, finds himself in a school situation in which he is expected to undergo the sort of advanced development we have been talking about—the learning of reading and writing and the further development of vocabulary and sentence-building power—in a language with which he is unfamiliar, or one in which he has received only minimal exposure.’

This situation can be met, the author continues, by either teaching in the first language until sufficient mastery has been developed to allow the learner to proceed to learning the second language, or else by deferring the teaching of reading and writing while building up a knowledge of the second language through teaching in it using an ‘Aural-oral’ method until the pupil is proficient enough in the spoken language to be able to start learning to read and write it. The chapter goes on to discuss aspects of language development, illustrated by excerpts from the work of other researchers. The point is made that speaking in a dialect or idiom (non standard dialect) involves following patterns just as formal as those accepted and approved in the standard dialect. In other words, it is not the place of linguists to judge what is right or wrong in a given idiom; such forms of expression can be equally as valid as standard English or any other middle class mode of communication in any language.

The book concludes with a chapter of recommendations and substantiating argument. Quoted in isolation from the context of the author's well-reasoned supporting statements the recommendations may seem a trifle pallid and even trite. What Dr Bender says is almost self-evident to any New Zealander who has ever thought carefully about this subject but this, I consider, serves to underline the common sense and judgement which has been the foundation of Dr Bender's research. To assess the full implications of the recommendations it is necessary to read the report in full. I have tried not to compile a digest of this report but to give an account of it sufficient to show that the work itself is well worth reading. The recommendations are:

1.

That the major colloquial varieties of English and Maori be subjected to intensive scientific description and analysis.

2.

That tests of basic language ability be developed and used in making a rigorous linguistic census of Maori children in the New Zealand school population.

3.

That reading and writing of Maori be offered as an optional subject in all primary schools having an appreciable number of students whose first or strongest language is Maori, and that schools having a preponderance of such students accomplish the initial teaching of reading and writing in the Maori language, while building an oral English base for later transition of such skills.

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4.

That the methodology of modern foreign language teaching be incorporated into the training of all primary-school teachers who will have any essentially Maori-speaking students in their classes.

5.

That the schools take steps to introduce modern grammar and scientific information about language at all levels in the curriculum.

6.

That steps be taken to enhance the status and prestige of Colloquial Maori.

7.

That the language teaching potential of modern mass media, especially television, be not overlooked.

Even if the implementation of these recommendations is slow in forthcoming, owing to shortage of financial and other resources, or political/administrative ineptitude, Dr Bender's short book should be required reading for teachers, educational administrators, teacher trainers, and all who have the future of our children, Maori and Pakeha, at heart.

From my own point of view I was impressed by the manner in which the author reserves his judgements, placing material at the reader's disposal and allowing him to draw his own conclusions. He does not labour his point and a good deal of the material he presents is couched in general terms which apply to languages used and taught anywhere. The implications for New Zealand therefore will hold true as they have in other countries.

MORE AND MORE MAORIS

It's a pity this most useful booklet has such a strange title—giving to some people the impression that ‘Maoris are arriving in an avalanche’, an impression possibly reinforced by the cover picture of one Maori man surrounded by twelve children. As the 1969 census figures were the latest used, surely ‘Maoris in 1970’ would have been an apt title.

As its author says, the booklet is ‘a simple statistical survey of the Maori today’, and to have so much information set out clearly and concisely in 50 pages will be of tremendous value to all sorts of students. The topics covered range from numbers and geographical distribution of Maoris, employment and incomes, land and its uses, attainment and destination of school leavers, the Maori Education Foundation, crime, health, housing, electorates, Maori Welfare and Maori organisations, to tribal areas, historical influences and the Maori language. A six-page essay on ‘Maoritanga’ reprinted from Affairs ‘69 is good value, and will be of great help to those who previously knew nothing of the ‘world of the Maori’. A brief glossary is included, and the bibliography selects good reading for those interested in further study.