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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 4 (July 1, 1935.)

The Taming Process

The Taming Process.

The Maori of the old generation had a shrewd wit, with which he often made play at the expense of the pakeha. There was a Wanganui chief of whom my old friend the late Rev. T. G. Hammond used to tell this story. Hammond was “Te Hamana” among the Maoris; he was a veteran Wesleyan missionary to the West Coast Maoris. He and the Wanganui man had many an argument concerning the pakeha missions. The Maori waxed sarcastic. “Oh, you missionaries,” he said. “Do you know why you were sent to us? You were really sent to break us in, to tame the Maoris as we break in a wild horse—rub them quietly down the face to keep them quiet. Then when the missionaries had tamed us, another set of pakehas took the land from under us.”

Really, there was sound truth underlying that sagacious figure of speech.

Another simile bearing upon the white man's steady advance is an expression I have frequently heard among the Waikato and King Country Maoris. The surveyors sent into the Maori country to spy out and map the land were likened to a wedge. The Kai-ruri, they said, was the first wedge of maire wood driven into the log of Maori nationality. Presently other wedges would be driven home and the pakeha Government would split the log up. And therein, too, truth is embodied. That splitting-up process in the Rohepotae was inexorable and inevitable. The log symbolised not only Maori nationality but the land, and all that great territory could not be allowed to remain in its wild state when it was so tempting a place to be split up for the land-needing thousands of the pakeha.