Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 35 No 5. March 29, 1972
Te Marae I Roto I Te Urewera
Te Marae I Roto I Te Urewera
"These lands will not be given by us into the governor's and your hands, lest we resemble the sea-birds which perch upon a rock; when the tide flows the rock is covered by the sea, and the birds take flight, for they have no resting place."
Taranaki Maori Chief Wiremu King! to Donald McLean and Governor Gore Brown, 1859.
The Tide of Pakeha Land Grabbing and Liberalism is Ebbing Away.
The ill named Maori Wars (they should be called land wars or exploitation wars or Pakeha wars) officially ended in the 1870's and '1880s. The feelings that fed the wars have never died. In the early years of this century sectors of Maori people renewed action over their land and social grievances. The nearest the situation came to War was at Maungapohatu (see map) in 1916 when two Maori were shot dead and many wounded in a jacked-up confrontation with the armed constabulary.
Ruakenana (Rua the Prophet) founded the Maori community at Maungepohatu in 1906. Rua, who believed himself to be the Messiah of the Maori people, inspired about 1400 Maori from surrounding areas to leave their homes and start the new community under the sacred mountain of the Tuhoe tribe, Maungapohatu.
They cleared some 2000 acres of dense bush to make a thriving farm. They built a large, efficient and pleasant community, in its buildings and its ideals a mixture of ancient Maori custorh and contemporary ideas.
Part of Rua's communal ideal, the providing of alternative life style to that of the pakeha, was effected without hindrance. But the maori grievances over lost land and the desire to be equal citizens led inevitably to conflict. At the time, it was illegal for the Maori to set) liquor. Though Rua was abstemious, he believed that there should be one law for both, people. Therefore on principle he sold liquor and he was imprisoned for it.
Rua's desire to build a nation within a nation led him to exhort his followers to resist concription. This was a more serious conflict with the pakeha laws, and in 1916 the Armed Constabulary converged on Maungapohatu to arrest Rua. The skirmish and killings were the result of misunderstandings rather than of resistance. Rua was convicted and spent a year in jail. The costs of the long trial broke the community and Rua seems to have been brainwashed in jail. Neither he nor Maungapohatu ever fully recovered their strength. Rua led a quiet life thereafter and died in 1937. The community waned and the pakeha actively helped to disband it. Today under the mountain only a few ruins can be seen, and most of the grassland has reverted to scrub.
But the mana of Rua is by no means dead, and the memory of the community at Maungapohatu is cherished. And young maori and pakeha have not only independently rediscovered the sickness of urban into national society, but they have discovered that there is a viable alternative the commune.
And today, the young maori is remembering the grievances of his people, and he is realising that he can do something about them....
Reference - Peter Webster's article on Rua printed in Whakatane Historical Review. April 1967, which was reprinted in Salient No 13, July 1971.
John A. William's Politics of the New Zealand Maori OUP 1969.
New Zealand Encyclopaedia, on Rua, Te Whiti, etc.
The Mana of our Tipuna, the Mana of Te Whiti o Rongomai, of Rua Kenana, is not dead. It will rise with new strength in the youth of this country at the marae we are setting up in Te Urewera.
We will build a marae by our own efforts with our own muscles and our sweat and laughter, we will develop our own farmlands, our own arts and home industries, we will meet our community needs.
We have the support of various organisations and individuals, many who cannot at present leave their jobs for life on our marae but want to support us with finance and and other minor necessities.
Haere Mai! Haere Mai!
Welcome, Maori and Pakeha those who are prepared to work for the new marae to create a new community with true values, with Aroha and respect for human rights.
Nau Mai! Piki Mai! Kakei Mai!
Kia Kaha! Kia to a! Kia Manawa Nui!
Kia Mahu te Mana o Nga Tipuna!
For further details (including starting date, how to support etc.) write to Tame Te Purewa Iti, c/o Box 7245, Ponsonby, Auckland.
Te marae i roto i te Urewera — the meeting place in the Urewera — is soon to be set up. It will make a start at satisfying e major need for the Maori people and therefore for all people.
It will be both a home for the homeless to return to from cities, and it will be a point of departure for those whose aim it is to improve our society by improving race relations, ie. people relations.
We are all familiar with the problems arising out of the prevalent drift of youth, eg Maori youth, to the cities. And with the emergence of gangs providing a crisis, something is at last being done. In Akarana (Auckland)it is largely groups like Nga Tamatoa, Students, Polynesian Panthers etc, who are acting constructively to make city life more humane and bearable. But many people are realising that the only solution is for youth to not go to the cities in the first place, or to leave. The country life and the old style marae though have had insufficient allure to hold youth there or make them want to return. The sort of marae visualised for Ruatokh, however, is the sort that will lure people out of the cities. On this new marae young Maori will be able to live as their' tipuna (ancestors) lived, live a self sufficient, self rewarding life. It will be no dream commune, though. It is visualised that each member will be expected to contribute to the maintenance and development of the community. And it will not be an escape from the world, it will be a common base for all politically aware people and groups to work from in the effort to improve our society.