Title: Henry Lawson Among Maoris

Author: William H. Pearson

Publication details: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 1968, Wellington

Digital publication kindly authorised by: Paul Millar

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Henry Lawson Among Maoris



On 29 December 1875, Henry Lawson's father Peter and two other citizens of New Pipeclay applied, mainly at the instigation of Louisa Lawson, for a new school at Eurunderee.96 The school was opened in October 1876 and provided Henry Lawson with two-and-a-half of his three years' schooling.97 Less than two years after Peter Lawson's petition, K. Wiremu Kerei of Oaro, twenty miles south of Kaikoura, and forty-eight others, who had already petitioned for a doctor, petitioned for a school for Maori children to be built at Kaikoura, and offered to provide the land on which the teacher would live. R. J. Gill, Secretary for Native Schools, asked J. W. Stack to investigate. Stack went to the pa at Kaikoura and finding that the men were absent shearing he went page 50to Mangamaunu and spoke to Ihaia and other elders. 'All expressed the greatest desire for the establishment of a school'.98 They hoped that the government would arrange matters as it had done for the people of Wairewa, where a school had opened in the previous year: the parents would provide the site but the government would provide buildings and the teacher's salary, and education would be free. They objected to the proposal to site the school at Kaikoura and to Wiremu Kerei's forwardness in making the proposal without consulting them. There were only three children at Kaikoura itself and between Kaikoura and Haumuri Bluff there were not more than a dozen Maoris residing. The obvious site was Mangamaunu, the biggest settlement and the home of most of the children. Stack found that there were twenty-nine children likely to attend, and recommended immediate erection. He estimated that the school would cost about £400 but the Native Minister would allow only £300.

Throughout the history of the dealings of the Mangamaunu parents with the government, one can see on their side a scrupulous concern to honour their contract, and an anxiety that the government on its side should fulfil its promises to the last detail. They were not slow to remind the government when it seemed to have forgotten its obligations. The first of a series of petitions is dated 6 March 1878 and these are worth quoting extensively since they are our only access to their thinking. This one is addressed to H. T. Clarke, Under- Secretary of the Native Department.

Ki a te Karaka

E hoa tena koe. E ui atu ana matou ki a koe mo te wharekura mo nga tamariki maori o tenei takiwa-mehemea he aha te take i roa ai taua kupa a te kawanatanga. Kei te hiahia matou kia tere mai taua kura notemea kua tae mai a te Taka Minita ki a matou. Kua kite ia i te nui o nga tamariki o konei. Ko te take tena o tena tono atu notemea kua roa rawa te take o te Taka ara taua kura mo tenei takiwa. No te hokinga mai o te Taka i Poneke na i tae mai ia ki Kaikoura nei i runga i ta matou tono atu ki a koutou. Whakaaturia mai te Take i roa ai ki a mohio ai matou.

Heoi ano.

Kia tere te utu mai i nga ra o tenei wiki e haere ake nei.

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Na Ihaia Whakatau
Matene Rawiri
Taki Eparaima
Otira na te iwi katoa.

Me tuku atu e koe he reta whakaatu ki Otautahi ki a te Taka kua tae atu ta matou tono ki a koe, kia mohio ai a te Taka.99

To Mr Clarke,

Friend, greetings. We are seeking to know the reason for the delay in word from the Government on the school for the Maori children of this district. We want the school erected quickly because Rev. Mr Stack has seen us and seen the large numbers of children here. That is the reason for this inquiry, because the business of Stack, that is, the school for this district, has been delayed too long. When Stack came back from Wellington he came to Kaikoura because of our request [for a school]. Inform us of the reason for the delay that we may know. That is all.

Be quick with your reply in the days of this coming week.

From Ihaia Whakatau … [etc.]

and also from all the people.

Send a letter to Christchurch to Stack [telling him] that our request has reached you, so that Stack may know.

If there was a reply to this letter, there is no copy on the files. But by November the department authorised expenditure of £460 for building, fencing, and fittings. The files show payment of £90 in May and £289 in October-whether the difference between the amount paid and the estimated expenditure means that parents contributed to the cost cannot be settled, but it is unlikely since it was before the Native Schools Code which made such contributions a condition of starting the schools, and since, according to Stack's letter of 19 December 1877, the terms were to be as with the Wairewa Maorisbuildings and teachers' salary provided by the government.1 The building was supervised by a local runholder, Harry Ingles of the Puhipuhi estate, and presumably was complete at the time of payment in October. The finished work was described by Stack in December as a schoolroom 20ft x 16ft and a house of four rooms each about 10ft square. No school committee had been legally appointed. Stack recommended that the self-appointed committee should not be recognised in any other capacity than as persons friendly to the school. To page 52give them any share in the administration would be to render the position of the teacher intolerable.' But since a committee would have to be formed, and committee powers were very limited in any case, there wasn't much point in not recognising them, and the old committee, headed by Ihaia te Awanui, was unofficially recognised.

A teacher was appointed, Thomas Danaher, employed at the time of his application as a clerk in the Native Department. He had taught for ten years, both privately and in a school in Ireland and his application was supported by high testimonials from Irish ecclesiastics. The Secretary for Education, Dr John Hislop made an odd memo: 'for Kaikoura I concur with Mr Habens in considering Mr Danaher likely to be suitable. Mr Danaher is (I believe) a Roman Catholic but Mr Habens sees no objection to this.' Danaher was engaged 'on trial', the appointment terminable on three months' notice from either side. When the Native Schools Code came into operation he was graded as 4th class certificated teacher. His salary was to be £120, with £20 to his wife as sewing mistress.

Danaher began teaching at Mangamaunu on 25 January 1880 with twelve pupils. Hislop suggested that there be a formal opening in February 'with a view to giving éclat to the proceedings.' He asked the teacher to let him know the cost of fencing half-an-acre for a garden and an acre for a paddock. The Maori men were away shearing and 'boating wool'; they planned an opening when they returned in February, with a feast and ceremony; they had already put up a post-and-rail fence enclosing the whole site. In March Maoris from Kaikoura and other settlements began building houses on the flat near the school, so that their children would be able to attend. Ihaia te Awanui applied to J. Bryce, Native Minister, for a grant to supplement the £3 already collected towards the opening. Bryce referred the letter to William Rolleston, Minister of Education who commented, 'We find no feasts'. The month's delay in replying to this request and the need to raise the further funds locally must have caused the postponement of the opening to 25 May. Stack was unable to attend and had no further contact with the school. Harry Ingles, the runholder who had supervised some of the building and other of 'the "well-to-do" people' were present. The school now had twenty seven pupils.

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