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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 6 (September 1, 1936)

Te Puea's Toil and Achievement

Te Puea's Toil and Achievement.

When the recent Royal Commission on Native Affairs took the evidence of leading Maoris in Wellington Te Puea was a witness. She described the work which had been her chief endeavour, and I reproduce some of her evidence here. In answer to questions Te Puea said that about the year 1920 she came to the conclusion that her people, being without land, were sinking into hopeless poverty, and so she went to work in their interest. She had assumed the guardianship of sixty orphans whose parents had died in the influenza and dysentery epidemics, and she reared them. She also had taken charge of some of the older people. In accordance with Maori tradition she conceived the idea of making Ngaruawahia the centre of culture for the Waikato people, and she described the steps she had taken to bring this about. She had organised a party of her orphans and travelled through the North Island giving concerts and native entertainments. On one tour #900 had been raised and on another #1,000. As a result of raising money in this way two meeting-houses at Ngaruawahia had been built. She had also erected a number of cottages to house the old people.

Then the chieftainess described early difficulties in breaking in land. “The people never forget,” she said, alluding to the confiscation of the Waikato. “But I tried to forget, for the sake of the children. On the new farms at Waipipi and other places I cut gorse, helped to make roads and did everything with the exception of bushfelling. I worked to encourage the others to work.”