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A Compendium of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs in the South Island. Volume Two.

Tuesday, December 28

Tuesday, December 28.

The Rev. William Ronaldson, being duly sworn, states: My name is William Ronaldson. I am master of the Wakarewa school. I was appointed to the school at the end of April or beginning of May, 1868, by the present Bishop of Nelson. I have been engaged amongst the Natives for 25 years, with the exception of an interval from 1850 to 1855, during which I was residing in England for ordination. I was master of a Native school at Wanganui, and afterwards at Papawai, in the Wairarapa. There was no school carried on when I came—the house was empty. Mr. John Greenwood had been living there, but I do not know exactly how he was occupied. I believe he was acting as bailiff. I began to keep school from May, 1868—in the morning, from 9 to 12 o'clock, at the Native chapel, at what is called the pah; and in the evening, from 6 to 8 o'clock, at the Motueka village, in the Church sunday-school. I will send you a written account of attendance from the roll I keep regularly. There is no boarding-school at all. The funds won't admit of it, and of course there is no industrial training. The Natives do not like it. They believe that is the grand stumbling-block in the way of the success of the school. They do not like to be obliged to work. They say the Europeans do not do it at their own schools. This caused the destruction of the school at Papawai. They say there, and at Wanganui, that it is "Mahi Paroa," (Pharoah's work, or compulsory labour, the Bishop standing in the place of Pharoah). I believe, however, the conditions of the grant require industrial training. Sir George Grey's idea of industrial training included agricultural work and trades, such as carpenters, blacksmiths, and shoemaker's work, which they would take to readily and like very much indeed. The funds have never permitted any attempt to entice Europeans into the Maori school. They would have to be carried on in separate rooms, and therefore require two schoolmasters. One difficulty in the way of this school succeeding is, that the portion of the tribe to which Wakarewa belonged, declare they were never paid for the land. They have frequently written and talked about this, and gave as a reason for not sending their children for education, that if they got any benefit in this way from the land, it would be a kind of acknowledgement that they had sold it, which they deny. My stipend is £300 a year, of which the sum of £235 10s. 7d. was paid for 1868-9 (30th June), the balance being made up of contributions from the European settlers at Takaka, for whom I render English services three times on one Sunday in each quarter. I also give one English service in each quarter at Wakapuaka. The settlers there contribute nothing for this, as they have a clergyman of their own. I attend to the Natives there, and give them two services on the Sunday I visit the District. I devote the Saturday to the Natives there also. I am away a week on each journey to Takaka, including the time of going and returning. Some of the Native children who come to the school live as much as three miles away. They complain of it, however, and they have ceased to come, saying it is too far. I am going to open a school for them in part of Mr. Staples' former brewery. I think the children must be got altogether in a boarding-school before any good can be done. I believe in what Mr. Borlase once said in the Wellington Provincial Council, that it would be best if possible, to take them altogether away from their homes. The portion of the building erected (only a very small portion of the original plan) was never finished; the weatherboards on the north side are not completely nailed on. There is an old man named Hakopa, who is really anxious the school should go on. He insists on his children attending the school. The roof of the building is in a very bad state. The gutter or parapet in front prevents the escape of the water. It was built from a design of a Mr. Clarke, of Marlborough. The room formerly used as a school-room is a mere lean-to, without lining, though with a fireplace. The upper rooms, are plastered, but let in water through the roof, the upright gutter in front stopping it.