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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 2 (May 1, 1934.)

The Way of a Rangatira

The Way of a Rangatira.

From the Kaipara district, too, came this story, told by Judge F. D. Fenton, of the Native Department, in illustration of the generosity and disregard of self-interest often exhibited by the Maori chief of high rank. There was a land-sale gathering at Tokatoka, on the Northern Wairoa, many years ago; the price had been settled by the people, and the Government agent and the present business was the distribution of the money. The principal chiefs there were two grand old men, Tirarau and Parore te Awha. The Government agent, who was accompanied by Fenton, had the money, eight hundred sovereigns, in a bag. The gold was first set down on the grass in the centre of the people, squatting there in a half-circle.

For half-an-hour it remained there, and not one spoke a word. Then one of the chiefs set the heavy bag in front of Tirarau. He presently set it back in its original place. Then he rose again and placed it before Parore. That chief sat contemplating it for some minutes and then returned it to its place on the green. All this time not a word was spoken.

At last the bag was lifted and set in front of Tirarau again. There it remained for half-an-hour of dignified silence. Now, due consideration having been shown to the principal men, Tirarau rose and proceeded to distribute the money. He took out a handful of sovereigns and gave them to one of the men, and went along the silent line, giving a handful to each man. In no instance did he trouble to count the money. Then, when all the sovereigns had been distributed, Tirarau lifted up the bag with both hands and shook it, to show that nothing remained. He did not keep a single sovereign for himself.

What could better illustrate the proud generosity and the dignified self-sacrifice of some of the old-time Maori chieftains? And no doubt that money soon vanished like the dew on the taro leaves.