Reminiscences of the 1939 Young Maori Leaders’ Conference
ora ra tatou
ko nga mihi ko nga karakia ki Te Rungarawa, nana nei nga mea katoa, mai te
timatanga ki te whakamutunga. Me te
inoi ano ki aia kia manaakitia tenei hui a koutou, a tatou, mo nga kaupapa me
nga take e pa nei ki te iwi whanui hei oranga mo nga ra kei te haere mai.
reira koutou o nga iwi o te motu, tena koutou kua hui mai nei i tenei ra i te
wahi e nga ahuatanga katoa kei runga ki a koutou kei runga kei a tatou.
of all may I apologise for not being here in person to address you but several
things make it difficult for me. First of all, I am unable to roll back the
years which have their effects on my physical well-being, secondly, my
medication programme is better dealt with at home rather than in a flash hotel
where I used to enjoy myself so much as a member of the Tribunal.
I pay my respects and greetings to you all who have come here today to this
historic occasion. It is historic as it is one in a line of other occasions such
as this that they’ve had in the past. And may this one be as important, which
I’m sure it will be, to the Maori people and to the nation as similar
conferences of the past were beginning with the Young Maori Party, to the
conference in 1939 and now to this one of yours.
remember being overwhelmed by the sense of awe that our leaders in those days
exuded. You felt that you were in the presence of people who were really
awesome; the result was of course that you didn’t say much, there was so much
to listen to. Of course the other thing in 1939; we had only just come out of
studying for whatever we were going to do. I was studying for the Ministry and I
had just got out of that sort of training. There were others who had degrees
like Bachelor of Arts. Those people were looked up to too, because it wasn’t
the thing those days for Maoris to get university degrees. But there were a
whole lot of personalities one was aware of, such as Apirana [Ngata] himself,
although I don’t know now whether he was there, and Pei [Te Hurinui] Jones and
[Mick] Te Rotohito Jones, they were there. They were formidable people and of
course they were a generation ahead of me. In those days we were taught to
respect our elders.
weren’t quite sure whether we had a real place in the nation or whether we
were just going to be ‘the not quite servants’ but sort of the manual
labourers for the development of New Zealand under Pakeha rule. So it was, at
that time, quite the thing to regard Te Aute as a place to train Maori farmers
and in one of the letters in this volume from 1930 to 1932 Api says to Peter
that he hopes that St. Stephens will develop a curriculum for Maori children,
(Maori boys), in the field of mechanics1,
in the same way that Te Aute has developed an agricultural course for Maori boys
in the field of farming. That was the mentality in those days.
great thing that impresses me is that the Maori of today is not the Maori of
1939 - different people altogether. We don’t live in the pas anymore, we
don’t live in the papakainga any more, and I was brought up on the papakainga.
Today that is all gone. One of our leaders the other day, Sir Peter Tapsell,
said that he has been worried about modern Maori, where the marae and the
meeting house will become tangi places only. So what impresses me most is the
terrific change that has taken place in the lifestyle of the Maori people, and
despite all that, at heart he is still as much Maori as ever, more so even, and
that I can’t explain.
when the Maori Party was set up, at the beginning of last century, survival was
the issue because our population had gone down to about 44,000 you know. One of
my first memories of Peter Buck was when I was twelve or thereabouts; I might
have been ten. There was a big epidemic of typhoid fever and Peter Buck was the
Maori medical officer, he came round our pas. We lived in Kohupatiki at that
time, in Hawke’s Bay, and I suppose there would have been sixty or seventy
souls in that pa. We saw very little of the Pakehas. The only time we had
contact with the Pakehas was when we were at school, but in our day-to-day life
we had no association with Pakehas. Of course at that time too, we had very few
jobs, we were lucky at Kohupatiki because just across the river they had
established a freezing works at Whakatu, and all the parents of the children at
Kohupatiki got jobs. We used to get cheap meat and cheap kai and that sort of
focus of that hui was how could we improve the economic lot of the Maori people.
One of the great programmes being introduced at that time was Ngata’s land
development scheme. That saved the Maori people from utter starvation. He paid
with his life almost in that job, he lost his mana in parliament, and he was put
on trial, which was very unfair. That wasn’t the main focus, but it was the
main pressure and out of that pressure came many other focuses and every time
they met, the group became more and more Maori.
of the side issues of those conferences was the restoration of our
meetinghouses, the upgrading of our marae and the growing sense of
identification with your tribe, with your iwi, with your whanau, and with your
hapu. But still the language was disappearing, and that was because the
government was more concerned with the Empire, as I mentioned earlier, than with
the nation. As far as the government was concerned there was only one nation,
the white nation, we all had to become like them, that was the basis of
assimilation. Maori wasn’t taught in schools, every morning at Clive School we
used to sing the national anthem God Save the King; we had no national anthem of
our own. So there you are.
was a sort of a progress hui. The issue was still how the land schemes were
going, how were the schools doing? How was Te Aute going? How is St Stephens
going? I suppose one of the big differences (because the population had
increased a bit) but in those times you know the Maoris had all sorts of things
going. In everything that went on in the Maori world, there was always a hui for
the people. They had big hockey tournaments in Omahu in Hastings. All the
kaingas would get together at Omahu. They would put up temporary accommodation,
rauwhare, temporary houses of raupo where everybody slept, and they played
sports all day and then at night they would go to late at night discussing the
problems of the people. And that is when Api and them would appear at night, and
they would lecture the players. The players wouldn’t take part in the
discussion, but Api and them would bring their policies forward and tell us what
was going on. Very inspiring. And of course they talked about whakapapa and how
to do up the marae.
think they differed from the Maori of today. You are not threatened by typhoid
fever, polio and consumption. In my time, in those days, those illnesses were
rife and controlling that was done as much as possible for the appeasement of
Maori people as anything else. The fact that they are increasing in numbers
today testifies to the fact that the problems of that time are no longer as
strong now as they used to be.
yet you know in some ways the economics haven’t changed too much. I
shouldn’t say that because that is wrong. You know when I was a kid; my father
was the only money earner in our family. If you put all my brothers together and
you counted up the income earned by each one, there was a lawyer, another a
doctor and another a teacher. If you put all that money together that the whanau
now earns and put it against what was earned by that same whanau in 1939 – the
thing is not the same.
leads me to the question of whether this group of leaders that are meeting
today, potential leaders, can find a way of organising their power as consumers
so that they get a fair go within the affairs of the nation than we have had to
date. It takes me back to my days in Honolulu. The Japanese were imported into
Hawaii as indentured labourers for the sugar cane industry. When they left Japan
they were already contracted to the sugar cane companies in Hawaii who
guaranteed a return fare after their time had been served out, providing they
were working for the same person or company. Six months before their contracts
ended those companies sacked them all. Thus the companies had no obligation to
pay their fares back to Japan.
many of them were treated like this that ultimately the Japanese got together
and said ‘look we haven’t got too much money now but in the whanau we’ll
put all our money in one putea under the elder of the whanau and he can allocate
so much a month to each family to meet their costs, the rest will go into the
bank’. Today you know, those Japanese, they own Hawaii because they did a
thing like that.
is what I hope these young leaders will try to do, because we have to belong to
the global economic system and we’ve not got to be just what do they call
those – ‘clip on fixtures’, we must become owners, we must have ownership
of our part of that process. That is where we have got to go in my mind, and we
have got to use the Pakeha to get there too.
of the things that has impressed me greatly is the tendency of Pakeha of today,
of this generation of Pakehas to become more indigenous to New Zealand than
their parents and their grandparents. They pronounce Maori place names much
better than their parents and grandparents ever did. You watch a football team
today doing a haka. By their accents you can’t tell which is a Maori and which
is Pakeha. In the early days you could easily tell who were the Pakehas. You
can’t do that any more. The objectives and purpose change with each generation
because the environment changes.
video broke down the other day and we got the technician to come in and he said
‘its no use fixing this better put a new one in’ So we put a new one in and
he left the guide book on how to work it and I said to my wife ‘By Jove, just
as well this book is not a recipe book we wouldn’t eat if it was a recipe book
because I couldn’t understand it.’ Yet my mokopuna comes in and he reads it
‘oh yes, you do this and you do that’. Different world, different people.
Maoris are not the same people, I don’t think they need encouraging. I think
they know what they are doing. I think they are proud of who they are, and I
think they have a better attitude towards the world than we had because they are
better informed. Because if you go anywhere in the world nowadays you will find
Maoris, everywhere and doing well.
correspondence which passed between two of our past Maori leaders, namely
Apirana Ngata and Peter Buck which is part of this volume2
their correspondence in the early nineteen thirties spoke of two transitions
that the Maori people passed through. The first was the transition from
Polynesian to Maori. As Polynesians they lived in a place where it was
comfortable, which enjoyed a tropical climate and where life was fairly easy.
From there, they made a transition to be Maori. This altered the lifestyle when
they found that the weather and the climate was much more rigorous in Aotearoa
than anything they had experienced in Hawaiki. A second stage of their
transition was from Maori to New Zealanders. That transition involved a series
of adaptations to a foreign language, a foreign culture and a foreign tikanga
that they received as part of the luggage that the settler brought with him from
England and Europe. So the first transition then was from Polynesian to Maori
the second transition was from Maori to being a New Zealander. The question for
you at this meeting is ‘Where to from here?’
At the signing of the Treaty, Hobson declared ‘ He iwi kotahi tatou’
‘We two people are now one nation’ and if you look at the Treaty carefully
its very terms imply that. Sadly it hasn’t always worked out that way, for
many reasons. One, the settler policy of assimilation, two, the Maori people
resisted assimilation. Besides there was the monocultural and monolingual stance
of the settler; also, the settler’s preoccupation with Empire rather than with
the nation. When the Empire disappeared after the Second World War and our
connection with the ‘mother country’ ceased, we had not yet at that time,
matured or collected enough material towards sound and proper nationhood. For
instance, in 1921 when I went to primary school the name of the school was Clive,
and it was named after Clive of India. So the Empire had an effect on the naming
of various places in Hawke’s Bay including Clive School. Many years ago,
during the Second World War in 1944, I came back from the war (where I was a
chaplain) on a ship called the Dominion Monarch, still thinking about Empire,
our ships were named in that fashion. This sort of situation, which our country
had been going through, in my mind, was responsible for whatever gaps exist
today. Only a genuine effort on the part of both peoples, and sound nation
building, can close those gaps.
in closing, can I just give you three things to think about, they all start with
the letter D. The first is Definition, the second is Direction
and the third is Drive.
Now Definition poses the question ‘Who
are we?’ Direction poses the question ‘Where
do we want to go?’ and Drive poses the question
do we get to where we want to go’. This is the theme that I leave with you at
this meeting as you deliberate on the best things that can happen for our
Can I conclude with these thoughts, because I believe that the true
leader in a Maori world becomes a rangatira to whom we all look up to. In your
days ahead may you always remember:
te kai a te rangatira, he korero
tohu o te rangatira he manaaki
mahi o te rangatira he oranga i te rua tangata
So may God bless you all at this conference.
I am sorry again that I am not here in person but I shall be thinking of
you and I am very, very confident of the future of the Maori people as you go
from being 500,000 to 1,000,000 people at the end of your time on earth. Kia ora
Taiaroa, Chairman, Maori Congress
kia ora mai tatou katou. He oti ano tuatahi e tautoko ana i nga mihi ana ki to
tatou kaihanga ki te wahi ngaro nana nei manaaki, tiaki i a tatou tatu pai mai
ki tenei o nga hui a tera hoki. Kia whakamarama ia te huarahi mua i a tatou mo
nga korero ka puta mai i a tatou a tera ki a tatou. Ana e ki ake nei te hunga
rangatahi, te hunga rangatakapu, ana ko koutou nga rangatira ehara mo apopo
anake, engari mo inaianei. No te mea kei a koutou nga matauranga kei roto i o
koutou nei ringaringa. Enei o nga huatanga e kimihia nei e koutou i runga i nga
korero ka whakatakotohia ki waenga i a koutou ana i nga rangi e rua nei, tae i
roto i te po ana e mohiotia ana.
nga taonga e pupuritia e koutou, tera hoki nga taonga e kimihia nei e koutou hei
tautoko ake ia ahuatanga kei roto ano i a koutou. No reira tenei te oranga
ngakau te kite awhi te tokomaha i o koutou e ngakaunui nei kia tae mai ana. i
runga i te kaupapa e karanghia ai koutou, otira tatou katoa.
reira tena koutou i haramai nei i o tatou wa kainga huri noa i te motu. No reira e mihi ake ana ki te hunga kainga na ratou nei i
whakatau ake ki a tatou i tenei ata. Ana kua haere mai nei ratou ki konei ki te
ake i runga i nga ahuatanga. Tatu ake ki a koe te Minita Maori, tou tatou minita
Parekura, me te whanaunga Mahara ana kua tae mai nei korua i tenei wa.
oti ano matakitaki ana ki nga rarangi korero kei mua i a tatou me era hoki o
tatou kua tae mai. Ehara i te mea to tenei hui mo nga mema paremata anake, kao,
no reira kei te mohio koutou hunga rangatahi ma, etahi o ratou koretake noa iho
kare i te rongohia a ratou korero. Ko koutou ke nga rangatira e tika ana kia
hari i te kaupapa nei. No reira koia nei nga wero kei mua i a koutou, kei a
tatou. Kia ora mai tatou.
just want to say this. It is great to see large numbers of you here and it
really shows the good heart that Maori leadership is going to be in. It is not
just that you are going to be the leaders of tomorrow we need you to be leaders
of now as well and I am sure you will be able to do that. And sure, whilst you
will go home and you’ll get knocked from your paepae and be told to sit down
and all that, well that’s okay because you’ll have the strength to stand up.
And that’s what its all about. You’ve got the commitment, firstly for being
here, and secondly I am sure you’ll listen to what is being said right
throughout. It is good that someone else is saying it that you will hear it and
you will share with each other, but you are the leaders of today and tomorrow
You have to be committed to doing it because out there there are all sorts of
strengths that will help you do it. But it makes us so happy and so proud that
you are going to be it.
that we Maori are going to be one in every four in this country by 2020, it is
so good that you will make us stand out and stand up. Only you can do it. Hei
oti nga korero poto ki a tatou, hei oti ano mihia atu ki a tatou Minita kua tae
mai. Thank you Minister for being here and seeing the large numbers. I think 402
have registered as of this morning, a really good number. The first venue had to
be changed because there were more than expected. That had to be a good thing.
He oti ki a koutou, ki a tatou; tena tatou katoa. Now, welcome the Hon. Minister
of Maori Affairs, and Associate Minister of ‘Many Other Things’ that are
going to drive us forward, Parekura Horomia. Homai te pakipaki.