Ko Tatou Tahi

I wrote a piece at about this time last year that spoke on a great trip that our jade carving group had just taken to Bruce Bay, or ‘Mahitahi’. The occasion was a ‘noho marae’ or marae stay intended to broaden the students’ knowledge of ‘tikanga Maori’ – ‘tikanga’ is a combination of ‘tika’ meaning correct and ‘nga’ meaning many, thus tikanga means the correct way of doing things in the Maori realm. One of the aspects that can be a little fraught in this regard is that tikanga can (and often does) change from one ‘iwi’ (tribe) to another or  even one ‘hapu’ (sub-tribe) to another. I say fraught because there is always the possibility of showing certain disrespect by doing something on a marae that might have been ok on another but isn’t ‘tika’ on this one. These subtle changes are often just simply variations on a theme and it isn’t likely to be seen as being hugely insulting and a cause for pistols at 10 paces, but as in any society it is always better to do things ‘correctly’ and so we have this annual ‘noho marae’ at this beautiful place, Te Tauraka Waka A Maui.

One of the first elements our kaumatua (Maori elder or person of authority, our ‘teacher’) talks to us about is the difference between homonyms ‘law’ and ‘lore’. Much of what we learn with regard to tikanga has to do with lore and what is acceptable practice on and around the marae. Therefore to learn we do, and so to do we visit and stay on the marae.

It is not my purpose in this piece to go into the various elements of marae visits such as the powhiri (that’s the welcome ‘ceremony’ as one arrives at the marae) or the mihimihi (that’s the introductions when everyone shares their ‘whakapapa’ or family links and lineage) the poroporoaki (the farewell ceremony) although I will mention that one of the main outcomes of some of these elements is the shifting of the status of the ‘manuhiri’ or the visitors (that’s us) from tapu or sacred, forbidden, apart or separate from to noa or no longer tapu.

What I am going to concentrate on rather more is how little effect the best intentions of lessons, lectures or advice given sometimes have.

We are a pretty diverse little group in the carving course with a range of ages from 20-odd to 68, with singles, in relationships, out of relationships, marrieds, solo parents, women and men (and maybe even ‘can’t make up my minds’?) and a nice little variety of nationalities but for the purpose of the noho marae  each of us is simply but one member of an homogeneous whole, hence the title, ‘Ko Tatau Tahi’, we are one together.

For the ‘uninitiated’ a noho marae is a fairly communal experience from the first meal together (prepared by the hosts), through normal kitchen duties of meal preparation and clean-up, sleeping together in the ‘whare nui’ (the ‘large’ house or more correctly meeting house) to the final tidy up of everything prior to taking one’s leave. It isn’t unusual for large parties to organise groups and a timetabled roster but as weren’t a large group we figured that everyone would simply lend a hand where they saw a need- food preparation, cooking, serving, washing dishes, setting out refreshments, and setting and clearing tables (and any other tasks that might need to be done.)

I was hugely disappointed therefore that there were some of our ‘team’ who barely did anything to help out until the last day when groups were organised for the three main clean-up tasks and they had to help out, that of kitchen/dining room, ablutions facilities and whare nui. Those I am thinking of always seemed to find important conversations to be involved in, riveting books to read or walks to be taken when there were preparation or clean-up duties to be completed. We all know- (no, obviously not all!) that a burden shared is a burden halved and a burden undertaken by a larger number lessened significantly as a burden. It is equally obvious that a burden not shared remains a burden.

There is a standard practice on a marae that at ‘kai’ time (meals) the order for diners to be served is children first, women second and then men. (Of course if there are any other classes then it’s their turn!) I found it interesting that in the absence of such order of serving the same people who prefer not to help with communal duties do prefer to be at the head of the queue for meals! Funny that, eh!

So there we have it, my little grizzle. Be that as it may I am sure that most who read this will be of a similar view to mine because that is what ‘tikanga’ is all about, what ‘lore’ is all about, what acceptable behaviour is all about and that if some people believe they are above such mundane considerations, for whatever reasons then they have ‘missed the bus’. It is so easy to practice ‘tikanga’, whether it is tikanga Maori or tikanga pakeha, and to not do so I believe undervalues all concerned.


Thank You, Oamaru (and Thank You Lee.)

During the Oligocene, conditions were rather quiescent; widespread thin bioclastic limestones formed, associated with glauconitic and occasionally phosphatic terrigenousstarved sediments. These biogenic and authigenic sediments are an important source of marine invertebrates and vertebrates.

To paraphrase-

A long, long, loooong time ago a whole bunch of things died and fell to the ocean floor and over many, many, maaany years were covered by successive layers of other ‘stuff’ which served to compress the thingy stuff and turn it into stone. We call the kind found around Oamaru in NZ ‘limestone’ and it was to this fun material that my stone carving course turned its attention.

Our design brief required that the creation was to have God, god or gods as the inspiration and so…we went to pencil, paper and planned. Lots of ideas, either inspired by lore or imagination. (One of my classmates developed a somewhat cynical but humorous design based on avarice and greed and featuring a large jug with a $ sign on the side and a key suspended around the neck- key, Key…get it?) I initially thought of my son’s association with the Maori god of war, Tumatauenga but none of the designs really gelled so I moved to an arguably more pleasant realm, that of Tangaroa, the Maori god of the sea. This ‘inspiration’ persisted but was modified. Tangaroa had a son, Punga who in turn had a son, Ikatere. Ikatere fled to the sea to escape land-based threats and became the ‘father of fish’. I gave Ikatere an offspring and named it (gender neutral, me) ‘He-Uri-O-Ikatere’ (An Offspring Of Ikatere.)

In our ‘stone room’ we were given our choice of stone and this is what I chose.


It was a pretty daunting prospect to see this huge block of stone and picture the quite delicate and flowing model one had drawn hidden within. How to get it out!! First things first- remove the BIG volume of unwanted stone. My dear limestone tutor, Lee said this was an easy operation- first put in some deep saw-cuts that define the stone to be removed, then a few judicious blows with a mallet and the block would fall away. Simple. (I warned Lee this wasn’t going away any time soon.) She decided to show me exactly what she meant so gave the end of the block a few ‘judicious blows’ with the mallet and… off fell the whole end of the block instead of just the surplus section!!

Haha- sorry Lee!

She was super sorry and super apologetic but I looked at this as being a salutary lesson that at any time things can go wrong and not to become complacent when things are breezing along (never suggesting, of course that Lee was in any way complacent!)cmprssd4

Now it was a matter of following the guidelines I’d drawn and continue to remove bulky chunks, working gradually towards the form I’d planned. I don’t know whether my dear friend Lee had a pang of conscience or not but she introduced me to the reciprocating saw and what a great tool for quick removal of waste stone it was. A few cuts and then taps with the mallet and large chucks fell away. Thank you, Lee!cmprssd5

From there on it was saw, chisel, chisel, saw, mallet, chisel, and so on gradually removing more and more stone and getting closer and closer to the desired form. I hadn’t realised, of course how easy the stone was to work with- chiselling, sawing, rasping, sanding, drilling- all of these quickly removed varying quantities and fairly quickly it became easy(ish) to get close to the stage where finer detail emerges and more delicate methods are called for.cmprssd6

Something that was always at the back of my mind (and not TOO far back, either!) was what happened with the first bulk removal and I wondered how strong the stone was in the thinner areas and what danger there might be to chisel and mallet chipping away, a technique I fairly early on decided I wanted to use in order to preserve a very coarse texture on many parts of the work to contrast with some finer features- the ‘arms’ face and ‘offering bowl’. My fears were unfounded and although I was probably very tentative the nearer the point of the shell I got, the shell was indeed completed without ending up with integral bits on the carving room floor!!

As I worked towards the final details I had an inspiration- (I do like the way designs continue to ‘evolve’ as one sees new possibilities!!). I wondered whether I could excavate a line completely through below the head and behind one of the arms…I thought it could look quite good! Go for it!

Yes it did look good! Yes, it did require a lot more work but it did achieve another feature element. It also gave me all sorts of issues with finishing, but…

I intended some carving on the face- very simple stylised lines only and when these were done they did have the desired effect of new shadows and lines. After I’d done these however my friend of the $ jug suggested the moko might be improved by sanding and softening. Initially I didn’t like this idea but after sleeping on it I tended towards his view and so it proved- there was still line and shadow but the softer look suited the face.

The final feature to the carving was to place the paua shell eyes and it was pretty much done!

All that was left, apart from checking this, that and the other for fine touching was to place some ‘offerings’. I had intended simply going to the beach and placing what shells, bones, weed and any other detritus I might find but as I had already carved a couple of nice stone mussel shells I decided that making a bit of a feature of the fascinating stones of our beaches would suit (remember ‘evolving’?) This I did- I have a number of colourful ‘shells’ I carved from various coloured stones and now I await He-Uri-O-Ikatere’s verdict- does he/she find favour with what I’ve made herim, or…
The new experience of working limestone was fascinating, (although it was VERY dusty and messy!) and I reckon I did OK for a first effort! What do you think, He-Uri?

Thanks Lee.

Te Tauraka Waka A Maui

A couple of weeks ago our jade carving course joined the chefs course for a noho marae to Bruce Bay further down ‘The Coast’- (way further down!) I was pretty excited about this trip having driven past the marae a few years ago when on our way to Central Otago. I was a intrigued by the wee whare partially hidden by a stand of kanuka between the road and the tall rimu and kahikatea that marked the start of extensive pakihi swamp further inland.??????????????????????????????? On our way down we had a couple of stops to enable the chef trainees to gather cress for the planned boil-up, and to visit Okarito, a gathering place where ‘mahinga kai’ was traded back in the days of Maori travels on The Coast. In our case (‘mahinga kai’ referred to traditional food items that the culinary arts students would learn to recognise, collect and use in their cooking.)

When we arrived at Te Tauraka Waka A Maui we were welcomed with a traditional powhiri on the marae atea in front of the beautiful whare nui- “Kaipo”.bruce bay cmprssd 7Atop the barge-boards that represent the encircling arms of the tipuna that the whare is we see


Maui who stands on a large toki.???????????????????????????????After sailing from Hawaiki Maui’s crew thought they sighted land but he thought it was a mirage, (he tiritiri o te moana) but it was the Southern Alps. The weapon (called ‘te hei mauri ora’) is what he used to kill the two taniwha who guarded this beautiful bay that he landed in before going on to fish up the North Island, Te Ika a Maui.

We were invited into the whare for the whaikorero and hariru. (Interestingly on this marae whaikorero is always done indoors rather than on the marae atea as is the norm. The reason is simple- namunamu.) The interior of this whare is wonderful. Around the walls are story-telling tukutuku panels between beautifully carved poupou that each represent one of the ancestors of the Ngāti (Kāti) Māhaki ki Makaawhio . Featured in a number of the poupou is pounamu, that magic stone that is so important to the people of Te Wai Pounamu. Several poupou have a panel with a thin slice of pounamu that is back-lit and gives the whare truly unique ‘night-lights’ providing striking visual addition to the pou while creating a subtle soft light for those who need to negotiate their way through what may be a crowded ‘whare-moe’.  After the hariru (the shaking of hands and hongi) with our tapu status removed we proceeded to the whare kai, called ‘Poke’ after the tipuna wahine who was the wife of Kaipo, for shared kai with our new ‘whanau‘.

After we had all ‘broken bread’ together to cement the new bonds of whanaungatanga we returned to the wharenui for a talk from our host about the whare and then mihimihi.

Jeff Mahuika was our host and as a stone carver was responsible for carving all of the greenstone neck pendants that were given to our 2012 Olympians. As we sat on our mattresses around the sides of this lovely house, Jeff told us about the ancestors that are represented by the poupou and the various special historical elements of the area represented in the tukutuku panels that line the walls. It was a fascinating session and to see and feel the reverence of this guardian of his hapu’s heartplace was somewhat humbling.

(As I age I increasingly regret being of a race that relies on written records for these can be lost, can be undervalued or can be overlooked. I know my family has or had bibles that had our full bloodline in but I have no idea where these bibles are. I know who last had the Australian one but sadly he has lost any interest in his family history and has no recollection of where it is either! I know my father had inherited one but when he died and his widow (not my mother) moved from the family home that one was lost. I know that one of my family is researching our family history but the frustration that exists waiting for the results of that research )

Mihimihi is the process whereby we introduce ourselves to others and recite to them our ‘whakapapa’. This is one of the most daunting of tasks for those who are doing it for the first time, to stand in a new and strange place among a group of strangers trying to recite a family tree (that may have only recently been learned) in a new language- mihimihi should be delivered in ‘te reo’ (the language, in this case, Maori.) Of course all of the ‘manuhiri’ (visitors) had been given some time to research and learn their own family roots and put them in the traditional form- first you tell of your physical origins naming your waka (or canoe that your iwi arrived in Aotearoa aboard- this relates to the fact that all tribes trace their origins to tipuna who came from Hawaiki on one or other of the waka of the great fleet) your mountain (maunga), your river (awa), your iwi (tribe), your hapu (sub-tribe) and perhaps your notable tipuna/tupuna who came with your waka. From these important elements of where you came from you then name your progenitors, your immediate family line. This may go back as far as you wish- in fact in many instances for pakeha or non-Maori this may only be for a couple of generations, whereas for Maori verbal historical record-keeping means the whakapapa may extend step-by-step from the very waka mentioned at the start of their mihimihi and extend generation by generation in direct line to one’s immediate mother and father, and self. You should realise, of course, that such a ‘direct line’ has many branches if all of the forebears who contributed to one’s being are named- everybody has maternal lines, and paternal lines, and these are all seen as equally important to Maori. Of course as this was a learning experience for the young and not-so-young people in our group and we were in the whare rather than on the marae atea where it is traditional to speak only in te reo/Maori, some chose to recite their mihimihi in English while some, rather than make up their own ‘traditional’ elements gave due deference to the hosts by using the local maunga, awa, iwi and hapu and then their own family.

My mihimihi went something along the lines of…

“E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o nga hau e wha, tena koutou. (I could have then said, somewhat facetiously “Endeavour te waka” but chose not to…) Ko Ben Lomond te maunga, ko Loch Lomond te moana, Ko Campbell ofArgyll te Iwi, Ko Buchanan me Graham of Monteith toku hapu, No Taranaki ahau. Ko Jean raua Charles Crozier i Bathhurst oku tupuna ki te taha o toku whaea, Ko Alma Patterson i Tasmania raua Bill MacGibbon i Castlemaine oku tupuna ki te taha o toku matua, ko Allan raua Jeannie MacGibbon oku matua, ko Murray toku ingoa. No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou tena huihui tatou kotou. Kia ora.”

The next couple of days were simply spent- sitting on the beach watching Bruce Bay sunsets,???????????????????????????????and just quietly talking about this and that and learning more of the rohe,visiting the Makaawhio Riverbruce bay cmprssd 3to look for the special stone, aotea found only in that river, trekking along a bush trackbruce bay cmprssd 9looking for ‘mahinga kai’- pikopiko shoots, mingimingi berries, kiekie seeds, kareao or supplejack shoots, and being told about the medicinal properties of so many of the fruits of the forest.

It was wonderfully restful (even though there was a continual running battle with the namunamu (sandflies) that are a real feature of the area.)  Of course we all shared the various tasks of food preparation, cleaning and ‘housework’, and had some formal ‘lessons’ but these were all ‘in context’ and didn’t serve to detract from the overall sense of being at peace in a special place.


After a poroporoaki on the marae atea we somewhat somberly loaded ourselves on our buses and headed home, mostly warm in the knowledge we would always be welcome back.

Our first stop was at Fox Glacier to ‘water the horses’ and to buy a welcome cup of ‘proper coffee’ before we detoured down to Lake Matheson for lunch. As magical as Bruce Bay is, Lake Matheson is also a very special place and we were lucky to arrive when it was calm and clear enough to experience what is special about the little lake,bruce bay cmprssd 8the iconic reflection of Aoraki Mt Cook in the still waters. After a walk around the lake and a leisurely lunch we continued our journey home stopping only at Harihari for a comfort stop. Here we saw a new addition to the village,???????????????????????????????a project being installed by renowned Kiwi artist Sue Syme.???????????????????????????????Each one of the colourful message tiles has been designed by the sponsor of it and then glazed by Sue. Visually exciting!

It was a great trip and everybody brought something home with them. Some were pleased with their pieces of aotea found on the Makaawhio, some with their new knowledge of mahinga kai, or their broader knowledge of tikanga Maori, some with their new-found friendships and some simply with the warm sense of having been there. If you have a bucket list add a stay in this very special place to it.

My Most Meaningful Possession

Aotearoa New Zealand has much that is special, and a beautiful jade called ‘pounamu’- that comes with wonderful folk-tales explaining its origins [who needs sensible geological explanations!], an aura and mysticism that affects all who see, touch or wear it, and a wonderful presence that in no small way comes from the wide range of tools, weapons and talismans that the Maori people traded, raided and even killed for, is one very special thing.

In the legends of the Ngai Tahu people of the South Island of New Zealand, the guardian of pounamu is a taniwha, a giant water creature named Poutini. His home is in the rough seas off the West Coast of the South Island or “Te Tai o Poutini”. Long ago Poutini used to venture far afield. One day, while resting in the warm waters off Tuhua (Mayor Island, in northeast NZ) he saw a beautiful woman, Waitaiki, bathing in the sea. Poutini looked at Waitaiki with lust in his heart. He rushed forward, snatched her up and fled towards the mainland.
Waitaiki‘s husband, Tama-ahua was a powerful chief and skilled in the rituals of the spirit world. When he realised that his wife had been taken he threw a magical dart in the air.  The dart pointed in the direction his wife and Poutini had taken so Tama-ahua and his slave paddled after them in hot pursuit. Reaching the shore Poutini lit a fire to warm Waitaiki but hearing Tama-ahua approaching he took her up again and moved on. The chase continued across Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Each time Poutini stopped he lit a fire to warm his captive Waitaiki– at Tahanga on the Coromandel Peninsular, Whangamata, Taupo, Rangitoto Ki te Tonga (D’urville Island), Onetahua (Farewell Spit) and Pauatane on the West Coast. The rocks at all of these sites, all of them important sources of stone for Maori, are all still stained by the fires of Poutini
Fleeing further south Poutini and his captive reached Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) but  weeping with cold and fright, Waitaiki begged him to turn around, so he carried her back up the coast, taking sanctuary in the headwaters of the Arahura River. 
At Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Tama-ahua found his wife’s tears preserved forever in the stone named Tangiwai (Bowenite). He realised that Poutini and Waitaiki had turned back so he tracked them up the coast to the Arahura valley. That night Tama-ahua rested and prepared for the final showdown.
Poutini was concerned. Fearing Tama-ahua‘s strength and determination he decided that if he could not have Waitaiki, no-one would. 
He transformed her into his likeness- ‘Pounamu and laid her in the cold waters of the river, then slipped downstream past the sleeping warrior. 
In the morning Tama-ahua set out to do battle with Poutini to reclaim Waitaiki. But when he reached the head of the river, his enemy had gone. He found his young wife cold and lifeless, transformed into stone in the riverbed. His tangi, or song of grief still sounds throughout the mountains. 

To the Ngai Tahu people Waitaiki is the mother of Pounamu and the jade fragments that break from the mother lode and roll down the river to the sea are her children

The weapons and tools were hugely valued because the stone (the Maori had no metal) was not only beautiful but incredibly hard and strong and once an edge had been ground it would last for a long time before needing to be ‘touched up’ and thus the chisels and gouges used in carving or whakairo were as highly valued as weapons. Because these stone tools were so good they also carried great ‘mana‘  (power & authority) and chieftains (or rangatira) often flourished them when wishing to add emphasis to their whaikorero, or speeches (or brandished them in battle!)

There are many intricate and meaningful personal ornaments that are treasured by their guardians- (although anyone may have pounamu one isn’t ever really an ‘owner’ as much as one is in possession of it until the spirit determines it will be passed on to the next ‘guardian’. Pounamu should never be bought for oneself, rather it should be a gift from another- in a sensible pragmatic way it may be bought but it should be bought for someone else. This process of transferring guardianship is also a wee bit fraught in that the pounamu will make up its own mind as to whether the recipient is worthy and there are many people around today whose jade taonga (treasure- all pounamu is taonga) has either broken or been ‘lost’. Maori will tell you that if this has happened it simply meant you were not meant to have the taonga in the first place. It is also said that pounamu will ultimately find its way home and that if you are meant to have it you will go with it.


For many years one of my hobbies has been bone carving, a skill I picked up developed through presenting ‘elective’ programmes to children at schools I taught at throughout my career. I loved playing around with designs and then trying to form these in bone. I had some success and will always enjoy trying to get finer and more intricate in my creations, but I have at the same time had an urge to get into something a bit more esoteric than crappy old beef shin-bone!! But more of that later.


Many years ago I was a teaching principal of a small school in the Bay of Plenty, a school that had very few pakeha (European) children, in fact on occasions the only blond heads seen in the playground were the three that belonged to my children!!! During this time I underwent a sort of cultural ‘fine tuning’ that was brought about by, on the one hand, the perception that a 90% Maori roll required a ‘different’ type of education and, on the other the wonderful and inclusive nature of the tangata whenua (the local Maori) who welcomed our family and undertook to include and involve my family in the life and times of the community. Coincidentally much of the ‘life and times’ revolved around the happenings at one or other of the two kainga (villages) that were nearby. At each was a substantial marae (comprised of, among other things a wharenui or meeting house, wharekai or communal eating house and marae atea or courtyard meeting place where traditional events and meetings occur.) There were two because the area was on the border between two iwi or Maori tribes.

Because of the use of te reo (the language, i.e. Maori) is traditionally mandatory on the marae atea I felt somewhat out of things because I wasn’t fluent. This was particularly so when I was invited (instructed) by one of the kaumatua (elders) to join him on the tangata whenua paepae (front row of the speakers’ seat) for the purpose of speaking on his behalf to pakeha with the manuhiri (visitors) to the ANZAC Day celebration “in case some of them wouldn’t understand his speech”! This was an incredible honour for me but it reinforced my misgivings about how little grasp I truly had of te reo. (I guess I stuttered through OK because I wasn’t told off by the kaumatua and he stayed a friend and mentor- wonderful wisdom.)

As a step towards addressing both issues I enrolled in a 3 day residential holiday professional development course at Nga Hau E Wha National Marae (the four winds)in Christchurch on “Using Te Reo In The Classroom” expecting any course that was going to address that issue would also be at least some sort of starting point in improving my own grasp of te reo.

After a full powhiri (welcome on the marae) we were escorted into the magnificent wharenui, ‘AORAKI’ (which is the name of our highest mountain, Mt Cook.) We were introduced to the whare and among other things were told that the carvings represented every iwi in the nation. As is traditional the visitors sleep communally in the meeting house and we were told to find a mattress (already placed on the floor around the perimeter of the whare) to call home for the next couple of nights. Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that the carved poupou (carved panel that tells a story) I had chosen was carved in the style of the Taranaki iwi. Why delighted? Because I was born in Kaponga at the base of Mt Taranaki! Coincidence? Or something more.

After an interesting couple of days covering a number of strategies for improving aspects of classroom programmes, particularly for Maori students but benefiting non-Maori as well given the Ministry’s stated aim of raising the awareness of te reo for all Kiwi kids, dinner and the evening session of the second night, a number of us went to the local for a night-cap. We invited the ringa wera (hot hands- the cooks and kitchen staff) to join us and it was one of these who admired the bone-carving I was wearing. (Remember my hobby?) It was really nothing particularly splendid- just a simple triple twist similar to a skein of knitting wool, but she seemed to like it a lot- so I took it off and put in on her neck in appreciation of her appreciation, I suppose. She seemed delighted and one of the other locals quietly whispered to me a bit later that the lady was so taken by my simple act of kindness that “She’ll probably give you a piece of pounamu!” I instinctively thought “That’s nice,” but thought little more about until next morning at breakfast. The gentle little Maori lady from Arahura (remember the Arahura River in the story of Waitaiki and Pounamu?), proudly wearing her new bone carving around her neck, came up and held out her hand for mine, opened it then gently placed a velveteen bag in it. I could hardly believe my eyes, which I promise you immediately started watering in humility when I saw the ‘piece of pounamu’ I found in the bag.This thing is magnificent! Dark, dark Arahura pounamu with a puku so fat and clearly carved in the traditional way using stone-on-stone and hand-grinding. This seemd an old piece and I just could not rationalise this act with mine- a potentially priceless Maori artifact against a worthless piece of cow-bone! I gave her a long hongi, kiss, hugged her- and cried.

So that is my most meaningful possession.

Oh! Sorry! I haven’t finished telling you why it is so meaningful (as if all of that wasn’t enough!!) I retired at the end of 2004 and my wife and I were pondering where we might throw out the anchor. There were, after all lots of places we have lived with our children, there were many more that I had fond memories of with my ‘growing up’ family- either holidaying or living, and of course there are the places where our children (and now, grandchildren) live. So, you might ask, what is the point of this apparent post script? Well, it’s this-

We now live on the West Coast of Te Tai o Poutini just a few short kilometres from the Arahura River from whence came my ‘piece of pounamu’

My tiki (Maori stylised human neck ornament) has found its way home- I’ve just come along for the ride! 

Te Wiki O Te Reo Maori

100 words in te reo Māori

Maori Language Week quiz

(Hmmm- I only scored 6/10 Apparently my history is wanting! Me.)

These words are grouped according to the following functions and associations:

We have included individual sound files of spoken versions of all these words – just click on the word and it will be spoken! (See also pronunciation notes and te reo for email.) New: 365 more useful Māori words and phrases

Hear Tairongo Amoamo read the complete list: click on arrow to play or download as mp3 (493kb)

The marae

  • Hui a meeting of any kind, conference, gathering
  • Marae the area for formal discourse in front of a meeting house or applied to a whole marae complex, including meeting house, dining hall, forecourt, etc.
  • Haere mai! Welcome! Enter!
  • Nau mai! Welcome!
  • Tangihanga funeral ceremonies, when body is mourned on a marae
  • Tangi short (verbal version) for the above (gerund) or to cry, to mourn
  • Karanga the ceremony of calling to the guests to welcome them to enter the marae
  • Manuhiri guests, visitors
  • Tangata whenua original people belonging to a place, local people, hosts
  • Whaikōrero the art and practise of speech making
  • Kaikōrero or kaiwhai kōrero speaker (there are many other terms)
  • Haka chant with dance for the purpose of challenge; (see other references to haka on this site)
  • Waiata song or chant which follows speech
  • Koha gift, present (usually money, can be food or precious items, given by guest to hosts)
  • Whare nui meeting house; in writing this is sometimes run together as one word – wharenui
  • Whare whakairo carved meeting house
  • Whare kai dining hall
  • Whare paku lavatory, toilet
  • Whare horoi ablution block, bathroom


  • Aroha compassion, tenderness, sustaining love
  • Ihi power, authority, essential force
  • Mana authority, power; secondary meaning: reputation, influence
  • Manaakitanga respect for hosts or kindness to guests, to entertain, to look after
  • Mauri hidden essential life force or a symbol of this
  • Noa safe from tapu (see below), non-sacred, not tabooed
  • Raupatu confiscate, take by force
  • Rohe boundary, a territory (either geographical or spiritual) of an iwi or hapū
  • Taihoa to delay, to wait, to hold off to allow maturation of plans, etc.
  • Tapu sacred, not to be touched, to be avoided because sacred, taboo
  • Tiaki to care for, look after, guard (kaitiaki – guardian, trustee)
  • Taonga treasured possessions or cultural items, anything precious
  • Tino rangatiratanga the highest possible independent chiefly authority, paramount authority, sometimes used for sovereignty
  • Tūrangawaewae a place to stand, a place to belong to, a seat or location of identity
  • Wehi to be held in awe
  • Whakapapa genealogy, to recite genealogy, to establish kin connections
  • Whenua land, homeland, country; also afterbirth, placenta

People and their groups

  • Ariki person of high inherited rank from senior lines of descent, male or female
  • Hapū clan, tribe, independent section of a people; modern usage – sub-tribe; to be born
  • Iwi people, nation; modern usage – tribe; bones
  • Kaumātua elder or elders, senior people in a kin group
  • Ngāi Tātou a way of referring to everyone present – we all
  • Pākehā this word is not an insult; its derivation is obscure; it is the Māori word for people living in New Zealand of British/European origin; originally it would not have included, for example, Dalmatians, Italians, Greeks, Indians, Chinese, etc.
  • Rangatira person of chiefly rank, boss, owner
  • Tama son, young man, youth
  • Tamāhine daughter
  • Tamaiti one child
  • Tamariki children
  • Tāne man, husband, men, husbands
  • Teina/taina junior relative, younger brother of a brother, younger sister of a sister
  • Tipuna/tupuna ancestor
  • Tuahine sister of a man
  • Tuakana senior relative, older brother of a brother, older sister of a sister
  • Tungāne brother of a sister
  • Wahine woman, wife (wāhine women, wives)
  • Waka canoe, canoe group (all the iwi and hapū descended from the crew of a founding waka)
  • Whāngai fostered or adopted child, young person
  • Whānau extended or non-nuclear family
  • Whanaunga kin, relatives

Components of place names

Ordinary geographical features such as hills, rivers, cliffs, streams, mountains, the coast and adjectives describing them, such as small, big, little and long, are to be found in many place names. Here is a list so you can recognise them:

  • Au current
  • Awa river
  • Iti small, little
  • Kai one of the meanings of kai is food; in a place name it signifies a place where a particular food source was plentiful, e.g., Kaikōura, the place where crayfish (kōura) abounded and were eaten
  • Mānia plain
  • Manga stream
  • Maunga mountain
  • Moana sea, or large inland ‘sea’, e.g., Taupō
  • Motu island
  • Nui large, big
  • ō or o means ‘of’ (so does a, ā); many names begin with ō, meaning the place of so-and-so, e.g., ōkahukura, ōkiwi, ōhau, etc.
  • One sand, earth
  • Pae ridge, range
  • Papa flat
  • Poto short
  • Puke hill
  • Roa long
  • Roto lake; inside
  • Tai coast, tide
  • Wai water
  • Whanga harbour, bay


Body parts

See also: 365 useful Māori words and phrases

A note on pronunciation

The following English equivalents are a rough guide to pronouncing vowels in Māori:

  • a as in far
  • e as in desk and the first ‘e’ in where; it should be short and sharp
  • i as in fee, me, see
  • o as in awe (not ‘oh!’)
  • u as in sue, boot

There are fewer consonants, and only a few are different from English:

  • r should not be rolled. It is pronounced quite close to the sound of ‘l’ in English. The tongue is near the front of the mouth.
  • t is pronounced more like ‘d’ than ‘t’, with the tip of the tongue slightly further back from the teeth
  • wh counts as a consonant; the standard modern pronunciation is close to the ‘f’ sound; in some districts it is more like an ‘h’; in others more like a ‘w’ without the ‘h’; in others again more like the old aspirated English pronunciation of ‘wh’ (huence for whence)
  • ng counts as one consonant and is pronounced like the ‘ng’ in the word ‘singer’. It is not pronounced like the ‘ng’ in ‘finger’, i.e., Whāngārei is pronounced Far-n(g)ah-ray (not Fong-gah-ray); Tauranga is pronounced Tow- (to rhyme with sew) rah-n(g)ah (not Tow-rang-gah).

The macron – a little line above some vowels – indicates vowel length. Some words that look the same have different meanings according to their vowel length. For example, anā means ‘here is’ or ‘behold’: Anā te tangata! (Here is the man!) But ana, with no macron, means a cave. Some writers of modern Māori double the vowel instead of using macrons when indicating a long vowel, so the first example would be Anaa te tangata!

Using te reo in email (and snail mail)

We’ve have put together this guide to help people learn appropriate email greetings and sign-offs in te reo Māori.

We have listed some of the most commonly used phrases below. We encourage you to add any others you have received or any other questions you have as community contributions below this post, or email us at info@nzhistory.net.nz.

Generic greetings suitable for most occasions

  • Formal for one person (eg where in English you might have used ‘Dear’): Tēnā koe
  • Informal: Kia ora

When addressing two people

  • Formal: Tēnā kōrua
  • Informal: Kia ora kōrua

When addressing more than two people

  • Formal: Tēnā koutou
  • Informal: Kia ora koutou

Generic sign offs suitable for most occasions


  • Nāku (noa), nā [your name] = yours sincerely [your name] from one person
  • Nā māua (noa), nā [your names] = yours sincerely [your names] – from two people
  • Nā mātou (noa), nā [your names or group name] = yours sincerely [your names or group name] – from more than two people

Adding ‘noa’ in the above examples adds a sense of humility – eg ‘Nāku, nā’ is ‘From [your name]’ whereas ‘Nāku noa, nā is more like ‘It’s just [your name]’


  • Hei konā mai (or just Hei konā)

Other greetings and signoffs

Please provide more examples from emails you have received as community contributions at the bottom of this page or email us at info@nzhistory.net.nz

  • If morning, an informal greeting could be: Mōrena (good morning – an alternative is ‘Ata mārie’ )
  • Kia ora e hoa (informal greeting to a friend)
  • If someone greets you with: Tēnā koutou e hoa mā
    An appropriate response would be: Tēnā koe, e hoa (or, less formally, Kia ora e hoa).
  • The sign off: Noho ora mai rā, nā … is: Look after yourself, from …

For Christmas:

  • Meri Kirihimete – Merry Christmas
  • Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me te Tau Hou – Seasons greetings for Christmas and the New Year.
  • Meri Kirihimete ki a koe/kōrua/koutou – Merry Christmas to you (1 person) / you (2 people) / you (3 or more people).
  • Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete ki a koe/kōrua/koutou – Greetings of the Christmas season to you (1 person) / you (2 people) / you (3 or more people).

This has been reproduced from the “New Zealand History Online” website.

Waitangi Day: How can we reclaim the day?

(Buddy is a person I am proud to call a friend and I value the wisdom and common sense he gives. He kindly gave me permission to reproduce this though-provoking article in my blog. Thanks, Bud.)

Historian Buddy Mikaere imagines a Waitangi Day that will mean something special to all New Zealanders

In a few days’ time we will mark 172 years since that sunny day on February 6, 1840 when a group of northern chiefs gathered around a tent at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands to sign a treaty between Maori and the British Crown.

For most of us, this Waitangi Day will be just another Monday holiday, a chance to get the lawns done and the gardens tidied, wash the car and maybe have a couple of cold ones while fishing or watching cricket replays, or just enjoying winding down.

Others will see the day differently. The serious ones among us will take a moment to reflect on where we are as a nation, as a people. They will mentally wring their hands about such things as asset sales, child abuse, the price of milk, unemployment, the euro crisis, the Rena, the ongoing Pike River and Christchurch earthquake sagas and worry about our seeming helplessness as we float on our sea of troubles.

The glass-half-full people, on the other hand, will find reason to be optimistic: business through the Port of Tauranga seems to be on the rise, maybe the PSA-affected kiwifruit will not be as bad as we thought it would, the sun is shining, it’s a day off work and the kids have gone back to school.


Regardless of how full or empty our glass, we all know that Waitangi Day in New Zealand follows a pattern almost as fixed as the track the sun follows from east to west. We know that our media will be hoping for some kind of ruckus at Waitangi so that later we can all watch the six o’clock television news and have a good grumble before the cameras move to pictures of the traffic snarl going back into Auckland (yawn) and a breathless American reporter tells us about the latest episode of Republican candidate character assassination in the United States.

In between, there will be a dawn service at the Waitangi meeting house; protesters will shout obscure insults at our politicians; we will see people marching with flags and carrying placards; we will see lines of police and sailors; there will be the normal protest around the flagpole or occupation of the Treaty grounds; our new Maori Governor-General will deliver a speech that will be forgotten by dinner time; kids will throw a tennis ball for the dog and the nation’s barbies will sizzle and splatter with a million sausages getting readied for a tomato sauce-smothering.

The sun will set on mediocre Waitangi Day #172 and we will all go to bed, safe in the knowledge that though the sausages are as horrible as always, never mind. All is well in Kiwiland. God bless.

I am sad that it is largely this way. I am sad we fail to make February 6 a great day for our gutsy little nation and its equally gutsy people. I am sad that we ignore this annual opportunity to celebrate us – you and me.

I know that worthy people all around the country will attend lectures and debates on the Treaty, where academics and other notables will recycle the same tired cliches we hear every year. The Treaty and its text have been examined in excruciating minutiae that beggars belief. We can argue forever about the content and meaning of the various articles and the English or Maori versions but in our heart of hearts we all really know what it means in layman terms. The Treaty is all about a fair go. You can dress that up how you like but essentially, that’s how I see it, so what more is there to be said? Let’s just find out where there wasn’t a fair go and deal to it.

Other worthies will have organised sports and festival days. Some events will re-enact the arrival of settlers on a beach and somewhere there will be a spectacular waka paddle-past. All good, all worthy, be happy.

But these events fail to fire the imagination.

Doesn’t your heart still lift when you see the images of Dick Tayler winning the 10,000m race at the Christchurch Commonwealth games in 1974 or of that great farm hack of a racehorse Kiwi coming from last to first to win the 1983 Melbourne Cup or of a giant Jonah Lomu scoring tries against England in the 1995 Rugby World Cup? I wish there was some way feelings about Waitangi Day could similarly lift our spirits and incite the buzz of intense pride those events did. It is interesting that all my examples are drawn from sport, where winning is often pooh-poohed (usually by non-sportspeople) as being transitory and fleeting. But I will carry the memory of Kiwi’s surging run to the line to my deathbed and until then, I will draw on the well of inspiration that horse created for me whenever I feel the need.

We need to reclaim Waitangi Day. But it doesn’t mean we throw out all the elements of our current “celebrations”. By all means have a pre-dawn church service, where we can be thankful to God or whomever we might pray to or believe in; for this country of ours, its lands, waters, forests, mountains and seas and the myriad good things about being us – the people of this place – we give thanks.

There is a simple dignity to a flag-raising ceremony that greets the morning sun and the promise of a new day, so we should still do that. Our starred flag should rise like a southern phoenix on the Waitangi flagpole, shaking off the ashes of the past year to snap in the breeze with the restless vigour that characterised our forbears, Maori and Pakeha; a vigour that drove them here from across the oceans.

The Governor-General’s speech should be at breakfast time on national television and radio. It should be an anticipated event in much the same way that the Queen’s Christmas message used to be. But we should give him real words to say. We should give him words of wisdom and inspiration and hope. Words that tell us who we are and what we can become and why we should celebrate this day; words that send us into the Waitangi Day morning feeling proud to be New Zealanders.

Waitangi Day should also be the day the Prime Minister gives his State of the Nation address – the day he tells it to us straight. Why do politicians always find this hard to do? Why can’t the Prime Minister just say: “look guys, this is how I saw the past year; this is what we need to do to make things better; this is the resource we have available to do it with; this is how we are going to do it. Furthermore, throughout the year I am going to give you regular updates against these same points. Happy Waitangi Day!”

The Prime Minister should be followed by a support cast of prominent Maori and Pakeha here and overseas, speaking on TV or via satellite link about their pride in being New Zealanders on this day. While we are at it, let’s get rid of honours being given out at New Year and on the Queen’s birthday. These are national New Zealand awards, so they should be given out on this day of our nationhood.

Make this the day to honour our top creative people. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra should give a Waitangi Day evening concert. Our best singers should perform. Our best musicians should give concerts; there should be exhibitions of our best painters and sculptors; new New Zealand-made movies should premiere on this night. Restaurants should serve New Zealand-themed food and wines and, across the world wherever Kiwis are gathered together, it should be a Waitangi Day culinary celebration with nary a sausage in sight.

Make this the day, too, that our most successful business people tell us their plans for the coming year; how they think the economy should be managed, how it is possible to be in this country and still achieve commercial success.

Later that evening, in the full glare of national television and with all the pomp and ceremony we can muster, including a full-blown haka, our brave flag should be lowered at Waitangi and carefully put to sleep for the night.

All these things we can do. All it takes is a mind-shift. All it takes is a desire to make Waitangi Day truly a national day.

* Buddy Mikaere is a writer, historian and environmental consultant. He is a former director of the Waitangi Tribunal and lives at Papamoa, Mt Maunganui.


Flags representing diversity at North East Valley Normal School.

One of the lines spoken by Mr Geoff Portman in this report on his complaint to a school about the flags it was flying was “We are all one people here and this division is not good for the country.” Who the hell is creating division here? The principal of this North East Valley Normal School explains the reasons for flying a variety of flags, and the ERO report for the school commends the schools for it’s family and wider community relations, yet this person cries “division”!

And does this person believe forwarding clearly racist motivated emails is “good for the country”? I have seen the same or a very similar email and it clearly propounds a theory that ‘we’, (white/Caucasian/Pakeha) are at a disadvantage to other ethnic groups (in New Zealand the email favours Maori, in Australia it favours anybody who’s not white Australian-born Australian, etc., etc.) Whatever our personal views on such matters no-one can claim spreading such propaganda to be the work of someone dedicated to ‘one people’.

The work being done by the school does far more for ‘one people’ than any number of businessmen who forward racist emails. Pull your head in Mr Portman.

Daily Show Yawns @ NZ Politics

So John Stewart has poked a bit of fun at New Zealand politics in his Daily Show! It appears it was only a passing reference, and many would argue that New Zealand politics is only really worth a fleeting piss-take, possibly most of the whole NZ population of 13!!! (Please don’t rush off to check the accuracy of this apparent population of Aotearoa- there are around 4 million of us, and only a very small percentage of them are actually members of any one of the many political parties that contest our 4-year elections. There could well be 13 political parties, of course!!)

Our nation has seldom been rocked by major political corruption so is possibly a natural target for political commentators and satirists. This is not to say, of course that our politicians are any different from their fellow international players of the governing game, for I often feel that for some it is, indeed a ‘game’- that they can afford to be involved in and are unaffected by [I doubt that many of the ‘rulers’ of the day don’t benefit or are hurt or disadvantaged by the legislation they pass!]!

We are in the lead-up to an election later this year, (as we are in the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup. I wonder which has the greater significance?)

But as said, we are in the lead-up to an election and so have begun to be bombarded by ‘how good I am’ statements from all of the candidates for the 69 seats to be contested (7 of these are Maori seats to be decided from the Maori Roll, access to which is restricted to those New Zealanders of Maori decent, and which guarantee Maori representation in Parliament, irrespective of any Maori being appointed as general seat candidates. It should be known that the pakeha (non-Maori) population of NZ has mixed views on the value or efficacy of this duality in our electoral system, as do a minority of our Maori population, interestingly enough!)

Coincidentally at this time we are days away from a bi-election in one of our Maori electorates that resulted from one of the Maori Party members falling out with his Party, being ejected, resigning from Parliament then forming his own (new) party. The results of this will be very interesting, although the ‘home boy’ Hone will be very popular with the underprivileged, I suspect. (Interesting to see he claimed an unfavourable land-line poll was ‘rogue’ because too many Taitokerau Maori “couldn’t afford a land-line” so they all use cell-phones!! Hmm.)

We will also be asked to vote in a referendum that will again address the question of how we decide who should govern the country, or rather the system we use to decide. Once-upon-a-time we had a system called “first past the post” whereby we had 1 vote per enrolled elector and we cast this vote for 1 (or no) candidate. After vote counting the party that had won the greatest number of electorate seats, governed. If there was no majority (no party won more than half the electorate seats) there would either be ‘minority’ government’ by the party who won the greatest number of seats, and they would have to be very considerate of the other parties’ views when forming legislation. In the ‘minority’ instance it was possible the ‘major’ winning party could create a ‘coalition government’ by coming to an arrangement with one of the smaller winning parties. If they were the majority government they could then charge full steam ahead pretty much without any concern for what the rest of Parliament (and the population who voted for them) thought about it, (and as a coalition government only slightly less)!!

For the last couple of decades we’ve used a system called ‘MMP’- Mixed Member Proprtional whereby every voter has 2 votes, one of which is cast for the favoured candidate, the second being cast for the favoured party. Any party achieving more than 5% of the total votes cast then seats a list candidate in Parliament. The greater the % of total votes, the more list members. Also if a party wins a seat, they can also seat a list member in The House.

The referendum will firstly ask us whether we want to review how we vote or to keep the current system, and if we wish to change which of an offering of 4 options would we prefer. The systems on offer are (a) a return to FPP, [where we will then have 120 electorates!!]; (b) Preferential Voting [PV] system, where we get many ticks but use them to rank as many candidates as there are in the electorate 1st option, 2nd option, 3rd option, etc.. The winning candidate is the first to garner 51% of the votes in each of the 120 electorates; (c) Single Transferable Vote [STV], 120 electorates and whereby we get 1 transferable vote and this is cast by making our own ranking options, or by voting for the preferred party’s printed options; (d) Supplementary Member [SM] where we have 90 electorates and 2 votes, the first to vote for the preferred candidate and the second for the preferred party which contributes to a percentage vote that decides what proportion of the 30 supplementary (list) seats available a party is entitled to.

So, in a nutshell that is our “Politics”! Who could possibly find any reason to yawn and take a sideswipe at THAT!!!

Hone v The Maori Party


Tinorangatiratanga Flag

In the words of the Rebel of the North, Hone Harawira, I’m just another ‘white motherf****r’ so what I have to say is likely of little or no value. Hey ho!


The current squabble between Hone and the Maori Party (of which he was the member for Tai Tokerau, the northern Maori electorate seat,) is thought-provoking.

[For any non-Kiwi readers this is a political setup peculiar to New Zealand- we have special seats set up for exclusively Maori voters because historically the tangata whenua (the native New Zealanders) felt somewhat disenfranchised because they were a minority in the nation and felt that the pakeha (white/non-Maori general electorate) MPs did not reflect their hopes and aspirations in The House and often felt legislation being enacted was anti or at least a-Maori in intent. Many New Zealanders do not support the existence of Maori seats claiming they are racist and divisive. Many others dismiss the few Maori MPs as ineffective, powerless and without influence despite the fact that under our current MMP parliamentary system often minority parties, of which the Maori Party will always be one, are wooed by the majority party to join them to generate sufficient seats to govern, thus become ‘king makers’ and do have a degree of  power and influence. This does of course require them to temper some of their election policies as an expedient to establishing an alliance (and power sharing) with a party who weeks before were, at worst, bitter enemies or, at best electoral opponents.]

Here endeth the lesson! Back to my observations.

Hone is the elected representative of a region that is largely populated by people of the Ngapuhi tribe and they are variously viewed as being argumentative, fighters, opinionated, rebellious but are obviously proud and independent. He has often taken positions that put him somewhere outside the ‘Party Line’ but this is not necessarily a bad thing in Maoridom. Maori people (or at least those that have authority to speak) have always spoken their mind and it is in this tradition that there is always lively debate and not always consensus. Hone has come from a family of activists and proudly carries on the tradition.

What I see as interesting in the new situation for Hone now that he is no longer in the Maori Party and is supposedly an independent MP is that he must surely have lost a deal of any effectiveness he had because, as I stated previously, minority parties are only as strong as the deal they are able to make with those in power, and when one is a truly ‘independent’ Member all he has is his voice, his words, and the support of his electorate. As a Maori electorate representative Hone certainly has lots of support in ‘the provinces’ but  if the rest of Maoridom are supporting their own electorate MPs then it would seem to me both Hone and his many electorate supporters are truly voices in the wilderness.

What will be interesting is whether Hone Harawira decides to create a new Maori party, and if he does how much support he might generate throughout the other Maori electorates. I suspect there would be a decent level of support, but ironically the effect of this split of the Maori vote could well be to lessen the effect in The House of the Maori ‘voice’. Currently there are a number of Maori MPs who are in the ‘mainstream’ parties- National, Labour, etc., both elected or list members, but these will always toe the party line and I would imagine that in the interests of dividing the Maori vote these MPs will be given greater responsibilities by their own parties, and the effect of the split will almost turn Maori electorate MPs into pseudo independents.


The Dubious Benefits Of Citizenship.

This is an article that my good friend Derek Fox has penned as guest commentator in the daily newspaper of the Cooks, (and I will drop him a line asking his permission to publish it here in a day or two!)

The dubious benefits of citizenship
At the outbreak of the Second World War Apirana Ngata – he’s the guy with his picture on our $50 note – persuaded the government to form a Maori battalion. The 28th Battalion was formed on tribal lines and the different iwi kept up the numbers to maintain the fighting unit. Men from the pacific also served in the 28th.

Ngata did this because he believed it was part of the ‘price of citizenship’, Maori should not only enjoy the benefits of New Zealand society, but should also share the hardships – like fighting in a world war.

History tells us that the 28th (Maori) Battalion served with great distinction winning every decoration for bravery that it was possible to win; but the cost too was enormous. Two thirds of the men were either killed, wounded – sometimes up to three times – or taken prisoner.

The price was indeed high.

That’s why I’ve found three snippets of news in recent days very interesting.

As I write Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is challenging Maori to take ownership of the fact that about half of the children abused in this country are allegedly Maori and Maori should put their hands in their pockets and pay to fix this situation.

Also this week the Race Relations Commissioner – Joris de Bris – has expressed his concerns about the high numbers of Maori unemployed – double the Pakeha numbers – and worse still the very very high number of unemployment amongst Maori youth.

The third piece was a study of life expectancy taken from the official statistics. It compares how long we live to how we earn and what race we spring from; you’ll be surprised to learn that Maori have the shortest life expectancy – even high earning Maori live shorter lives than low earning Pakeha.

Well so what, I can hear some of you saying, well here’s what

The reason Paula Bennett is in a government in this country is because of the Treaty of Waitangi – not because Maori were conquered but because they were persuaded to sign a treaty.

Paula has probably read the Treaty – but I continually come across people with very strong opinions on it – who haven’t.

Basically there are three articles and this is roughly what they say:

Article one signs governance over to the Crown – our governments like that part.

Article two guarantees Maori undisturbed possession of their land forests etc – successive governments have violated or ignored that part.

Article three guarantees Maori the rights of British citizens – those were the ‘benefits’ that Ngata saw – good health, employment, housing, an education, justice and so on.

So where are they, why is it that Maori must now pay for their own social services; and next week will Paula Bennett be telling whoever owns the other children who are being abused that they will have to pay too, or will the taxpayer do that – along with Maori taxpayers?

In fact all governments including this one have failed to provide the rights guaranteed under article three and that failure is the root cause behind the social ills that plague Maori including unemployment and child abuse.

Each year we’re told how Maori children are failing at school – but who’s really failing? Maori children aren’t paid tens of thousands of dollars to educate themselves – an army of civil servants is.

Will the next step be that Maori need to pay for their own education, and health services and so on? What then will the role of the government be, and if two of the three premises on which the Treaty was signed are no longer valid – then should the treaty itself be null and void and should we revert to the ownership and other arrangements that preceded it. That’s what happens if a contract fails.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that Maori are not getting the same level of service as Pakeha under article three. Poorly educated people end up in poorly paid employment if they get work at all. They live in poor housing and suffer poor health, to survive they may resort to crime which will see them locked up which will leave their families without a breadwinner, they will not be able to afford health care so simple and easily avoided illnesses will go untreated they will die earlier and the cycle will start all over again.

You might be interested to know that Apirana Ngata was a contemporary of Ernest Rutherford – he’s the guy on our $100 bill. They were mates at Canterbury University and graduated at the same time – both were high achievers.

Rutherford wanted the two chums to head off to Europe –where he went on to win fame by splitting the atom a precursor to the atom bomb.

Ngata turned down the trip and instead went home to serve his people on the east coast, later exhorting them to go to war to pay the price of citizenship.

I reckon we paid too much, and I’m picking today he’d agree with me.

Derek Fox