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

Conditions of use


Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Henry Lawson Among Maoris



In Thomas Danaher, Hislop and Pope had an ideal executor of the new policy. The initial situation at Mangamaunu was of an avuncular department, an enthusiastic teacher, and willing parents and pupils. Hislop had advised Danaher to learn Maori, and within three weeks of his arrival, both he and his wife were learning the language and he reported that 'we have thoroughly ingratiated ourselves with the old people here'.45 The committee had asked him to take night classes for men, and, until the shearing season, ten elders were learning arithmetic and reading three nights a week; more would have attended if there had been enough books. Pope, inspecting in June, recommended that Danaher be paid extra for this service. For the children Danaher gave extra classes in singing and he wrote for the scores of the National Anthem and the Christy minstrel songs. There is excitement in a letter written six weeks after opening, when he reports that some of the older girls had already made dresses for the younger ones: 'I do not know if all Maoris are quick but these children appear to have a facility for learning and also a desire to understand what they do learn.' Pope reported in June: 'Mr and Mrs Danaher are well qualified [as] Native School Teachers…. page 63They both work with a will…. The Natives have a high opinion of both teachers…. The children … are fond of the school.' The committee offered to save the department the expense of fencing off the garden and paddock if the money could be used to build a veranda to keep the rain from beating in the windows and door of Danaher's house, and for a bell to call the children in the morning, and a clock for the school. The department accepted the offer. Danaher invited the editor of the Kaikoura Star to visit the school.

But the harmony had an interruption. On 1 December 1880 this letter was written to the department:

Ki te timuaki

Kai whakahaere a te takina mo nga kura Maori e hoa tena koe. E whakaatu tena na matou na te Komiti ki a koe i te he o te kaiwhakaako o nga tamariki o Mangamaunu nei. E rua nga taima i haere ai taua kaiwhakaako ki Kaikoura, a, kai ana i te waipiro no te hokinga mai, ka taka ki raro i te hoiho. Me i kore nga tangata, kua mate taua kaiwhakaako. No te 19 o nga ra o noema nei i haere ai ano taua kaiwhakaako ki Kaikoura, a, kai ano i te waipiro. No te hokinga mai ka taka ki te whenua ka tata te mate. Kaore ia i whakaako i nga tamariki i tau ana i te paraire i te moe ia i tona haurangi.

Heoi ano,

Na o hoa pono, ana na te Komiti.

Danaher's own tuition had probably gone into a translation in a different hand but on the same sort of foolscap, which accompanied the original.

To the Inspecter of the Native School,

Dear Sir

I sualute [sic: salute] you and wish you good health. Also I and the Committee inform you that we find faults with our School master of the Mangamaunu School. He went to Kaikoura twice, got on drinking spirits, on his way returning home, he fell off his horse if it wasn't for one of our tribe he had been dead.. on the 19. of Nov. he went down again to Kaikoura he got on drinking again, he was on the point of death this time. He never school the children on Friday, he sleep all day, with his drunkness.

Your respectifully Servt.

the Committee.

[A true translation of the original ends: 'That is all. From your true friends, from the Committee'].

The letter was signed by Matene Rawiri, chairman of the new committee chosen during Pope's visit, and four others, only three of whom were members, Ihaia Waruhe (or Wahaaruhe), Renate Waruhe, Paratene Waruhe and Ratima Ihaia. Ihaia Waruhe, incidentally, was Mary Jacob's grandfather, and Ratima Ihaia her father.

Danaher, supposing that the committee were asking to have him replaced, asked the department for an inquiry. 'I am at a loss to know the reason of this, as I have always acted in an open and straight-forward manner with the Natives, and I believe I am popular with them. (The Children I know like me and attend school regularly.)' Hislop conducted an inquiry in the schoolhouse in January in the presence of the committee and twenty-six Maori men and women. Danaher admitted going to Kaikoura on business on three occasions; he attributed his falls to unbroken horses and his insensibility to the falls themselves. He admitted once staying at billiards till 2 a.m. The committee said they would not have reported him till the third occasion when his appearance compelled them: his clothes were saturated in castor oil and brandy. They emphasised that they did not want him removed; they only wanted him to stop going to Kaikoura and getting drunk. Hislop reported: 'He ought not to have been in a hotel shouting drinks for anyone much less a Maori', and William Rolleston, Minister for Education, reading the report, commented on 'the unquestionable impropriety of being worse for liquor and giving countenance to the drinking habits-shouting Etc- of the country. Ask the Catholic priest who spoke to me about this school to read this report and use his influence.' Danaher was asked for and gave a 'solemn assurance' to refrain from future imprudence. He joined the Rechabite Tent at Kaikoura and for the rest of his stay at Mangamaunu there was no complaint. Pope hoped that his example would benefit the Maoris.

But the department was to have trouble with this school for a number of years. In his retrospect of 1900 Pope said: 'In the old times, there is reason to believe, the authorities considered any building that would keep out most of the rain, and give more or less complete shelter from the wind and sun, a tolerably page break
Henry Lawson in Wellington in 1893 (photograph taken by John Baillie at the Cuba Street bookshop of his brother Herbert Baillie; reproduced by the Alexander Turnbull Library)

Henry Lawson in Wellington in 1893 (photograph taken by John Baillie at the Cuba Street bookshop of his brother Herbert Baillie; reproduced by the Alexander Turnbull Library)

page break
Kaikoura from the north, about 1900 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

Kaikoura from the north, about 1900 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

Site of Mangamaunu School, 1881-1922 (photograph, 1959, by J. M. Sherrard)

Site of Mangamaunu School, 1881-1922 (photograph, 1959, by J. M. Sherrard)

page 65satisfactory Native schoolhouse.'46 The remarks would seem to apply to the Native Department's buildings at Mangamaunu. In spite of Harry Ingles's supervision, Danaher on arrival found the house without paint or wallpaper, and the boards of the walls 'dark and discolored'. Five months later Pope could see light through the walls of both buildings. Ihaia te Awanui, when he asked for the veranda for Danaher's house said: 'the house is very badly built and the rain beats in the windows and door'. Even the equipment was unlikely to last. The desks, just sent up by a Christchurch firm, were of heavy kauri slabs mounted on flimsy sticks. The department agreed to paint the house; it was two years before the desks were replaced.

The most serious complaint was the siting of the school. It was built on low ground too close to the drifting shingle bed of the Hapuku, a snow-fed river which in the last flood had come threateningly close. Pope recommended that the school be removed to the terrace. Though Ingles called at the Education Department in Wellington to say that this was unnecessary, the department went ahead, and the school was closed for five weeks in the autumn of 1881 while contractors shifted it to higher ground, probably with local Maori labour, overseen by the wharf engineer from Kaikoura. But now the garden and the paddock were too far from the school. Pope recommended not only the removal to the new site of the garden fence but also the fencing anew of the whole site at a cost of £ 39: 'It is very provoking to have to spend so much money here, but I do not see how the expense can be avoided.'

The new chairman Aperahama Taki (whose name also appears as Abraham Starkey) and four committee members wrote to Hislop in September 1881 reminding him of his promise of a clock, a bell, and a veranda for Danaher in return for the fencing they had done a year before: 'Our part was completed long ago, but you have only given us the clock.' ['Kua oti te kaha kia matou i mua no atu na ko koe kahore ano ko te karaka anake:'] The bell that had been sent was too faint to be heard by the children in the pa on the terrace; a bell costing £3 would leave £12 15s. for the teacher's veranda. A new bell was sent and a veranda built by November.

Hislop would not fence the new site without title to the land. Ihaia te Awanui, chairman again, agreed in March page 661882, provided the earlier site was returned. This would mean getting a surveyor from Kaikoura at a cost of about £20. In June the committee was impatient to complete the leases and the fencing, since it was the idle time of the year, and since they wanted the sites in their users' hands before the spring planting. In July they threatened to remove the fence themselves. Danaher told the department that this was not due to any hostility towards him; 'on the Contrary, our relations are most cordial, but they simply want to get back the land'. Danaher persuaded them to write to the department and wait for an answer. The surveying was done in August and in December J. Goodall, a Kaikoura citizen, was instructed to get signatures for the lease: not a simple job, since it meant a 10-mile ride on a bad road to the pa and most of the men were away shearing. It was at the end of the following April that Goodall had eleven signatures, including those of the most senior men at the pa. The land was leased for eighteen years at a rent of one shilling a year if demanded on 1 January. A pig-proof garden fence and a boundary fence were erected at a cost of £49. In August of the following year (1884) the new chairman Keepa te Hina wrote to Danaher reminding him that the rent was not paid. E. O. Gibbes, then clerk to the department, protested that the rent was payable only if asked for: 'Do you think the natives really want the shilling to be sent down?' In October, Pope reported that the committee was uneasy about the matter: 'I think we should pay this money.' Habens asked Pope to suggest to them they should apply for it. Pope replied that they understood they had already applied by speaking to him about it. The sum of two shillings, two years' rent, was passed at the end of December. In the following two years, the committee took care to apply to the inspector during his visit, 'probably more as a reminder that the land is leased than as a result of any real wish to have the money'.47

After Pope's visit in October 1884 the department had other worries. It had already refunded Danaher for a colonial oven his wife had installed when the camp oven proved dangerous in windy weather.48 In 1882 Danaher had built at his own expense a weatherboard shed as a storeroom and washhouse, a meat-safe, and a rabbit-proof fence; for these a £10 reimbursement was passed when Pope recommended it in 1885.49 page 67But these improvements were not enough. In October 1884 Pope quoted Danaher's logbook: cold southerlies penetrated the house, and the floor on the south side had been flooded. One room had to be used as a storeroom since it was necessary to order three or four months' provisions at a time (presumably the shed was not big enough). 'The quarters', Pope said, 'are certainly not fit for a family to live in.' He recommended repairs to the house and the addition of two rooms and a fireplace and chimney. These additions cost £72.

In the meantime Danaher continued in the good favour of the community, his lapse forgotten: it was after that that Aperahama Taki had reminded Hislop of the veranda. 'The attendance is extremely regular', Pope reported in 1882, always a sign of Maori pupils' confidence in a teacher. His reports were satisfactory and children passed from one standard to the next. The night classes continued. If anyone was lax, it was the department: twice Danaher had to remind the department to send prize-books to girls who had got high marks-several months overdue: the girls were 'getting rather anxious about them'. Danaher continued as friend and helper to the people. In 1885 Bedford in his medical report wrote: 'In sickness the want of a suitable diet is always a difficulty, and has to be supplied invariably from friendly sources. Mr Danaher, the schoolmaster at the pah, is always a good neighbour to the Natives at these seasons.'50

In January 1883 the community was shocked by the murder of Erina (or Herina) Jacob by her husband Ratima. The murder took place 400 yards from Danaher's house. Only a few minutes before, at midday, Danaher had intervened when he saw Ratima quarrelling with Erina. Shortly afterwards, Eliza Poharama sent for him to come to the pa because Erina was dead.51 Danaher was a witness at the inquest and was subpoenaed to give evidence at the trial at Christchurch Supreme Court in April. He reported to the department three days after the murder: 'It has caused a great commotion here, and I fear it will materially affect the school attendance for some time. I believe some of the Natives are leaving here on account of it and taking their children with them.' He feared it would be difficult to keep the children together for the inspection in February. Nevertheless there were twenty-three present at the inspection out of a roll of thirty. But by the end page 68of 1883 the roll had dropped to twenty.52 Pope in his report of the February inspection noted that the reins had slackened and there was a great deal of talking among the children. He mentioned 'irregular attendance'. By the end of 1884 when the roll was twenty-two, Danaher hoped for a recovery, through people returning. But the roll continued to drop and in fact did not rise above twenty till the influx of European children in 1899. Yet in 1884 Pope found the children settled and working well. The parents had no complaints about the school. At the end of 1885, H. B. Kirk reported one case of corporal punishment, with the concurrence of the chairman. 'The Natives are interested in the school…. They seem to like Mr Danaher'.

But Danaher was going. There was a provision in the Native Schools Code that if attendance fell where there was a 'high-class master' and it was not his fault, he would be transferred to a better school and replaced by a teacher of lower classification. Danaher's classification was not high, but he was a teacher highly regarded by the department, and pre-sumably rather than see his salary drop through poor attend-ance, the department offered him a better position: his new school was Motukaraka on the Hokianga harbour and he left Mangamaunu on 18 December 1885.

The committee asked Kirk if the new teacher could come before Danaher left. They were anxious that he should be as good as Danaher. This passage shows both their regard for Danaher and their anxiety. It was written to Pope after Kirk's visit and before Danaher's departure.

page 64

Ka nui to matou aroha ki to matou Maata kura ki a Tanaha raua ko tona hoa wahine ka riro nei i runga i ta korua tono ko te Kawanatanga. Ko te take i tino arohaina nuitia ai kua tangatatia ki a matou kua whanaunga kotahi matou ki a raua me raua hoki ki a matou. He Mata kura pai rawa a Tanaha kaore ana aha, ana aha. Kaore ana whiu kino i nga tamariki. Pai ana tana mahi whakaako i nga tamariki, ngawari ana tau ana te rangimarietanga. Kaore he maata kura hei rite me Tanaha te pai, te ngawari, ki te whakaako i nga tama-riki. Ko wai i hua ai ki enei Maata kura e tonoa mai nei i Muri nei e rite me Tanaha te ahua pai ngawari me tona hoa wahine hoki; a pea e kore e rite mo tera ma raua ko taku hoa Tiamana e titiro tenei Maata kura e haere mai nei i tona atahuatanga i tona rangimarietanga Amene i tona page 69ahatanga ranei kinonga ranei ki [te] patu kino i nga tamariki o te kura, tera ka tae atu e* whakaaturanga ki a koe a aku ranei; a te Tiamana ranei. Heoi ano ena kupu. Kei te aroha matou ki a Tanaha, raua [ko] tona hoa wahine i muri i a raua kua motu ke atu nei i a matou. Na te Pononga aroha, te

Keepa te Hina rahginui.

Great is our liking for our schoolmaster Danaher and his wife sent to us by you and the Government. We like them so well because they have become people to us and we are now kin to them and they to us. He is a very good master with no faults. He does not beat the children severely. He teaches them well and with kindliness and there is harmony. There is no master like Danaher for skill and kindness in teaching the children. Who can speculate if this school-master to be sent after him will be as good and gentle as Danaher and his wife? Would it not be possible that this can be settled by Danaher and my chairman interviewing this schoolmaster who is coming concerning his virtues and calm-ness (I trust this is the case) or his other qualities, or bad points such as severely beating our school children. Then word would be sent to you by the chairman or myself. It will suffice for this matter [to say] we will love Danaher and his wife even after they have been separated from us. From your affectionate servant,

Keepa te Hina Ranginui.

page 72page 74page 75page breakpage 81

But the committee were not favoured with their request: Pope's reply was non-committal: 'I was pleased to find that you think so highly of Mr & Mrs Danaher.' R. H. Beck, a bachelor, arrived without the preliminary inspection the chairman had hoped to give him. Beck had applied several times to get into Native education and at the time of his first application in 1879 he was clerk at a Wellington brewery. He had been employed as journalist, clerk, and book-keeper, and he had taught at Gympie and Warwick in Queensland. He was teaching at Kaituna when he applied for Mangamaunu. He was appointed the day Keepa te Hina's letter was written.

At the start he apparently got on well. Kirk reported at the end of 1886: 'Mr Beck has established himself on a good foot-page 70ing and evidently has the respect and confidence of the natives.' But the roll was down to thirteen: although Beck claimed that 'all the children of school age … are enrolled and attending school', in the same letter (in October 1886) he pointed out that four Matene (Martin) children and one Jacob were not attending, and that four others had left the district. Kirk reported 'some want of decided obedience', and Pope made a note to Habens: 'I'm afraid that this is a dying school'.

A year later the report was more discouraging. It was a wet day when Kirk called; no children arrived till 10.55, and there was talking among the younger children. Attendance throughout the year had been irregular. Kirk was prepared to blame the committee for this and asked the department to write to the chairman. Nevertheless he found fault with Beck's teaching; he relied too much on 'simultaneous answering' and did not check that every child had 'mastered' a lesson. Not a single child passed in the examination.

Beck seems to have been rather helpless. His garden was overgrown, his closet had blown over in a gale. The depart-ment was angry to find that the 'urgent private business' for which he had closed the school one day was in fact a wedding. Habens wrote: 'I am sorry to see that the Inspector mentions that what has been a good garden is becoming overgrown with weeds. Cannot you have the water-closet put on end without Government assistance?'

The question is an indication (though it was December when the men would have been away shearing) that he would not, or could not, call on Maori parents for help. That he kept aloof is apparent in his letter pleading that there would be no reduction of salary as a result of decreasing attendance. 'While avoiding all waste we have to show no signs of poverty which would bring us into contempt in the eyes of the natives.' He had to hand-feed his horse as the glebe was a barren patch of stones. That Danaher had been able to hire or borrow horses from Maoris is suggested by his mention of unbroken horses at the inquiry into the complaint about him. But Beck was at loggerheads with them over his horse. He had written in 1887 asking about his rights of pasturage; in the following year he complained that, though the Maoris had a 10-acre pig paddock provided by the government, their pigs roamed over page 71the school glebe while his horse ran the risk of being im-pounded if it strayed outside it. It suggests either a malicious joke or retaliation for some threat or action he had taken over their stock. He could not keep poultry because of poisoned grain, probably spread to keep down rabbits. J. M. Sherrard tells me he was often the butt of jokes. 'On one occasion some Maoris painted his quiet old horse so that he could not recog-nise it on going to the paddock to saddle up for a trip into town.'53

The report at the end of 1888 was an improvement. 'In school the children work well.' The roll had risen during the year from fourteen to twenty-one, but attendance was poor. Again Kirk blamed the parents for lack of interest. 'The Maoris promise to do their best to keep up a better attendance this year.' Habens wrote to the chairman and the teacher threatening to close the school unless attendance improved. But Pope, reading the report, told Habens 'a more efficient instructor' was needed.

In 1889 Beck noted the number of days when no children came to school: a total of 14½ days because of mist or heavy rain. It was a wet morning for the inspection in December: the roll was down to thirteen again, but only seven children arrived, three-quarters of an hour late. Kirk again blamed the parents: 'Very little interest is taken in the school by the people.' But Beck came in for criticism. He was advised not to use Maori unless 'he is certain of the meaning of the words he uses', and he was accused of 'want of observation of the child-ren's power and progress'. Kirk recommended closing the school, compensating Beck for loss of office and letting him continue to live in, the teacher's house as long as he wished. But the reason for Kirk's generosity is clear in the sentence that follows: 'On no account should the land and buildings be allowed to fall into the hands of the Natives if this can be avoided.' He had formed the suspicion that the Maoris wanted the school closed in order to have use of the land and build-ings. When he told the committee that the school might be closed, 'None expressed regret to any considerable extent but all were anxious to know whether the land and buildings would revert to them and there was some chagrin on learning that there was no prospect of this until the lease should run out.'

Beck was dismissed and given three months' salary in lieu of notice. But, returning his logbook, he asked for another month's salary in compensation for his horse, worth £18, which had succumbed to poisoned grain. The department sent him £6 12s. 6d., just over a month's salary. The school records were returned in July.

Beck continued to occupy the house. In August he wrote to say that the W.C. had blown down again, and also the shed erected by Danaher. He recommended sale of the shed, which was bought by Aperahama Taki for £2. In May a Maori wrote to the department asking to rent the schoolmaster's house: the department refused. There is no record of what Beck did for a living during the five years he lived there, but he applied unsuccessfully in 1893 to Reeves, Minister of Education and of Labour, for a clerical job, he hoped in the Labour Bureau.

It is doubtful whether Pope, had he inspected the school during Beck's appointment, would have come to the same conclusion as Kirk. It is plain from what followed that the parents had not lost interest in the school. The explanation of poor attendance is almost certainly in the statements, already quoted, of two inspectors of Maori schools: Bird's, that nothing would prevent a Maori child attending school if he thought it was worth going to, and Pope's that if pupils lose confidence in a teacher nothing will persuade them to attend. Some conception of how low the school had fallen can be seen in these figures. They represent marks given by inspectors for all aspects of the school: condition of records, school organisa-tion, condition of buildings, discipline, methods, extra sub-jects and examination results.

1884 (under Danaher) 61.59%
1885 62.2%
1886 (under Beck) 42.3%
1887 41.7%
1888 41.3%
1889 40.0%

In the last two years Mangamaunu's percentage was among the lowest four (out of sixty-five Native Schools) in the country.54 It is plain that, for whatever reason, the-community had little respect for Beck and it was hardly in keeping with Pope's ideal of the teacher as a beacon of European culture that Beck page 73should have continued to live in the community, apparently in idleness, for five years.

While the school was closed there were no fewer than five letters from Maori parents, two of them petitions, asking that the school be reopened.

The first is a letter from Keepa te Hina Ranginui, written 20 January 1890, the day before Beck was sent notification of dismissal. Keepa te Hina had already sent, by way of Kirk, an explanation of the small number of children at the school.

Kua tatari matou kite kupu whakahoki mai a te Kawana-tanga, kua roa i roto i enei ra kua pahure nei. Heoi tena kupu, kua whai kupu ano ahau ki te komiti kia hopinetia ano te kura i tenei tau, aua atu te tokoiti o nga tamariki Maori, e toko maha ano o ratou hoa tamariki pakeha, tera hoki e tahi tamariki Maori kei te whakatupu ano kei te kai waiu e tahi. Kei te haere etahi. Heoi nga kupu. Whakautua mai tenei reta ina tae atu.

We have waited for the words of reply from the Government and we have waited long. Let that be. I have again spoken with the Committee to have the school opened again this year. Never mind the small number of Maori children. There are many of their young Pakeha friends. There are also some Maori children growing up; some are at their mothers' breasts, others have just begun to walk. [Alter-natively: others have departed.] That is all. Reply to this letter when it arrives.

The official translation omitted to translate the reference to Pakeha children. Habens's reply was that 'very trifling causes have been allowed to keep children from school'.

On 17 August 1891 Poharama Wahaaruhe and eleven others petitioned for reopening, since the numbers of children had increased: 'These children have not known education.' ['Ko enei tamariki kaore e mohio ana ki te kura.'] The petitioners asked for a prompt decision ['e tono atu ana matou kia tere te tono mai']. Habens wrote asking for the names and ages of the children. There is no record of these being received and nothing further happened.

The following year oil 29 June, Ihaia te Awanui, signing himself 'Rangatira o mangamaunu' wrote to the Minister of Native Affairs:

Ki te Minita Maori,

Tena koe. Ko au ko Ihaia te Awanui Kajwhakahaere o Ngaitahu ki te wa o Mangamaunu nei. E hiahia ana Matou ki to Matou Kura kia Hopene. Ko te take ko a Matou tamariki kai te haere noa iho i te kore kura: 10 nga tama-riki. Koia matou e Iinoi atu ai ki a koe mo a Matou tama-riki; ara, mo te painga mo a matou tamariki e hiahia nuitia nei e matou.

To the Maori Minister,

Greetings. I am Ihaia te Awanui, executive leader of Ngaitahu at Mangamaunu. We desire that our school be opened, the reason being that our children wander aimlessly because there is no school. There are ten children. Therefore we beseech you on behalf of our children [to do] what is for their advantage, which is greatly desired by us.

The letter was referred to Reeves, Minister of Education, who replied regretting that the funds available for native schools were insufficient for a district with such a small number of children. Pope observed: 'if our rules concerning capitation grants for small attendances were somewhat modified it might be possible to do something'.

Two years later Ihaia and twenty-six others worded a petition in English to the Prime Minister. They accompanied the petition with a note to Thomas Pratt or Parata, member of Parliament for the Southern Maori electorate:

Ki a Tame Parata, ki to matou Mema. Tena koe. E* kupu atu tena na matou ki a koe mo te wharekura i Mangamaunu nei. E hiahia ana matou mau e hoatu ki te aroaro o te whare kia tonoa noa mai tetahi kura mata mo a matou tamariki. Ko te nama o nga tamariki; 15. Ki nga tamariki hou mai ka rua tekau ma wha katoa. E hiahia ana matou nei kia whakatuheratia to matou kura inaianei

To Tom Parata, to our Member. Greetings. This message concerns our school at Mangamaunu. We want you to place before the House our petition that a schoolmaster be sent to us for our children. The number of children is 15, and with the new children, 24 altogether. We would like our school opened immediately.

The petition itself is interesting. The use of the European name for the Seaward Kaikoura range and the spelling of pa and of the Hapuku and Mangamaunu in imitation of current Pakeha mispronunciations may represent a desire to ingratiate themselves with a Pakeha Prime Minister. But probably, like the language of the petition, these reflect the assistance of some Pakeha acquainted, though imperfectly, with legal procedure. The petition is too amateurish to have been prepared by a lawyer. It is tempting to speculate that it was Beck, seeking reinstatement; but this is unlikely since the letter to Parata implies that the teacher should be a new one. The most likely nominee is Walter Gibson, a failed runholder, former county chairman and unsuccessful parliamentary candidate of ten years earlier, whose advocacy was available to those with political grievances. The petition reads:

1st  The Humble Petition of We, the undersigned Aboriginal natives residing at Mungumana, Province of Marlborough, Humbly Sheweth that we are suffering a great wrong and injustice at the hands of your Government inasmuch as our children twenty four 24 in number, fifteen 15 of which, range from five 5 years of age up to fifteen 15 years of age are growing up without any education; for our Pah is nine 9 miles distant from the nearest public school, at Kaikoura, from which all Communication is often cut off by the Hapuka river, when in flood.

2nd  It is a cause of great grief and reproach to us to see our children growing to manhood without any Education. You are our Father: and in the knowledge of your great love for us we ask you to remove this great sorrow and reproach from us; for your children are melting away like the Snow in Spring time, from the Lookers On Mountains, and in Knowledge, only Can our Children find Salvation, for thier race. We therefor humbly pray our Father, that in his love for his Children, he will at once have a Native School opened at Mangumana and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.

At the end, no doubt remembering Habens's request two years before, the petitioners listed the names of eighteen children of school age and eleven under five.

Parata apparently sent the letter and the petition to the Education Department who referred them to the Justice Department, but the petition was never heard by the Petitions

* E = He.

page 76Committee, because the Education Department had begun to think again. Pope advised against re-appointing Beck: 'he is incapable'. But with a new teacher 'it might possibly be worth a trial' to reopen. P. G. Steel, a trained teacher, at that time teaching at Te Puke, married with an infant son, was appointed.

In August Gibbes wired Constable Smart of Kaikoura to discover if Beck was still in the schoolhouse. Beck not only was, he wired collect to say he needed four weeks to move. But Steel was due to arrive in ten days, and the constable wired again (from 'Mungamunga') to say that Beck was packing.

Habens wrote on 11 September to Ihaia te Awanui that the school would be opened 'in the hope that the people will see the value of it and for the children's benefit require them all to attend. It will be as well for you to see that all the children are got together' by the following week. Steel, missing his boat from Onehunga, arrived a few days late on 25 September 1894. It was Pope who visited this year, five weeks after Steel's arrival. He found that the school needed a new roof and several new panes of glass. The house needed new wallpaper and the veranda new floor-boards. But Pope, since his last visit ten years before, noted a great advance in the settlement, in its appearance and its sanitation. Steel had dug the garden and his discipline was mild. 'The parents take a pleasing interest in their school at present.' Pope was hopeful. 'Of course everything depends, in the first place, on the ability of the Maoris to keep up a fair attendance'.55 'A good start was made, but the attendance is falling off somewhat: the Maori population is but small.'56 Nevertheless for what was left of the year the children attended well. In 1895 Mangamaunu had second highest average attendance out of sixty-five Native Schools. The roll was twenty.

By March Steel reported that attendance was falling: three children with parents at Kaiapoi had gone home for the summer holidays and hadn't returned. The roll was now sixteen.

There is not much evidence of Steel's relations with the people. His logbook was 'laconic to a fault' and he wrote only brief letters to the department. But in contrast to the reception of Beck's animal, one notes fifteen months after Steel's arrival page 77Ihaia te Awanui and others seeking permission from the department for Steel to graze his cow and horse on Maori land.

Pope came again at the end of 1895. Steel had a good garden in. He was taking work in three classes. He had gained 'the confidence, and I think the affection of all his pupils. His relations with the Elder Maoris are good'. With Steel Pope visited the two settlements and was pleased with the advances in sanitation and the attractiveness of the Catholic church. 'Much of this advance is certainly due to the school and its work, although in the past this has not always been of the best'. He was impressed by the people's 'evident desire to support the school'. Eight children passed the examination. Pope reported:

This school should not be judged by the average attendance merely but by the amount of good it is doing, which is exceptional, although the attendance is small…. This is at present a useful little school, doing good work amongst Maoris who really need assistance to enable them to hold out against the pressure of pakeha civilisation.

But the average attendance was below eleven, and Habens wrote to Steel that it must be brought up to fifteen-hardly possible since the total roll was only thirteen, and dropped to twelve at the beginning of 1896. Pope told Habens that small attendance was the school's only fault. 'There is no prospect of improvement for some time to come. The master is a useful man; some of his work is particularly good.' He advised against closing.

At the end of 1896 the roll was thirteen again, with an average attendance of ten. The 'rule' was still 'mild'. 'The elder Maoris show interest in their school, and the pupils are attached to their teacher.' Pope added that the attendance must normally be small because the population was small: it had been particularly low this year because health had been bad and two school-children and several babies had died. There had also been floods: if the Hapuku were bridged, the attendance would improve at once (there were some Pakeha children living south of the river). 'The results are considerably above the average…. The English is very good indeed.' Again eight children passed.57

For what reason it is not clear, but probably under the same provision by which Danaher had been offered another page 78school, Steel at the beginning of 1897 was appointed to Raukokore in the eastern Bay of Plenty. He was not there for long: in April he was in Auckland Hospital for amputation of a poisoned toe, and at the end of May he died.58

The committee was restless that there was no teacher for the coming year. In January Gibbes wrote to Pene Tahui, chairman, that he would be informed when a new teacher was appointed. In March Habens asked Pope: 'Is Mangamaunu likely to be permanently closed?' Pope replied: 'there is no more reason for closing Mangamaunu than there has been for the last two years'. In April Habens considered appointing an elderly man whose retirement two years before he had not regretted, 'a man of little energy'. He gave him a week to consider, but this man, though poor and only returning from retirement because he needed the money, did not reply. 'The school has been closed a considerable time and I am unwilling to try the patience of the Natives further.' Five days later, on 27 April, Arapere Panita, chairman of the previous year's committee, was notified that Henry Lawson had been appointed. Habens asked the committee to keep up the children's attendance.

At this point it is useful to recapitulate. From the viewpoint of the Maori parents of Mangamaunu the performance, first of the Native Affairs Department and then of the Education Department had not been above reproach. After some delay they had got their school and teacher's house but they were badly built and badly sited. Their first teacher, except for his lapse, was all they could ask for-and in the light of their silence over Beck's many inefficiencies, it seems that their complaint about Danaher was a vote of confidence: he was worth complaining about; without his drinking expeditions he would answer their needs. They had treated their agreement with the government as a contract to be honoured to the letter by both parties. They had gone further when they volunteered their own labour in return for the veranda, the clock and the bell, for the sake of Danaher's well-being and the greater efficiency of the school. But on its side the department had been remiss: it had sent a bell too small to be heard, and it had to be reminded about the veranda; it did not immediately send prize-books promised to children who had passed. There was the period when the government seemed to want two page 79
Table A
Annual Total Expenditure on Schools
Board SchoolsMaori SchoolsMangamaunu School
YearTotal govt.
expenditure to
nearest £
No. of pupilsExpenditure to
nearest £
No. of pupilsExpenditureNo. of pupils

Figures are taken from Statistics of the Colony of New Zealand 1880-99, and from tables in the Annual Reports on Native Schools, AJHR, 1881-1900.

page 80
Table B
Annual Average Expenditure on Each Pupil
YearBoard Schools
Native Village

Expenditure is in terms of pounds and decimals of a pound corrected to one decimal place.

pieces of land and would not surrender the piece it no longer needed at a time when they could have begun to cultivate it, and then the delay of nearly two years in paying the rent for the new site. More seriously, the government had taken away the good teacher and replaced him with a poor one. Kirk complained to the parents when the children did not attend, when it was obvious that the children had no confidence in their teacher and the parents were unable to compel them to attend. When the government closed the school it took pains that no Maori should use the land or buildings and it left the poor teacher in possession, doing nothing profitable to the community. It had taken five years, three letters and two petitions to have the school reopened. Again when the school was established under a good teacher, the department had taken him away; and it appeared that the school would again be closed for a long time.
Mangamaunu Flat Settlement in the 1890s (from T. L. Buick, Old Marlborough, 1900, reproduced by the Alexander Turnbull Library)

Mangamaunu Flat Settlement in the 1890s (from T. L. Buick, Old Marlborough, 1900, reproduced by the Alexander Turnbull Library)

Painting of Mangamaunu, artist and date unknown (photograph by J. M. Sherrard, from the original in the Christchurch Technical Institute)

Painting of Mangamaunu, artist and date unknown (photograph by J. M. Sherrard, from the original in the Christchurch Technical Institute)

page break
The house the Lawsons lived in (photograph by Barry Yelverton, date unknown but probably between 1920 and 1940)

The house the Lawsons lived in (photograph by Barry Yelverton, date unknown but probably between 1920 and 1940)

From the department's point of view, the school had been costly, not only in the continual repairs to the buildings. Not counting the cost of the original buildings, the sum of the annual expenditure on each pupil for the years when the school was open had been £95.2, whereas for all Maori schools it averaged £88.6, and for Board schools £43.8.59 Under Beck the parents had not maintained the children's attendance, as they had undertaken to do, and under Steel, though it was not their fault the number of children was small, they had not maintained a full attendance. The department had a responsibility to its teachers as well as to its pupils and it was unfair to Danaher and to Steel that their salaries should drop when rolls or attendances fell. It had waived its own rule on the minimum roll, in order to keep open a school it felt was needed and useful.

The fault lay in the rule itself and in the system of payment by results which obliged a good teacher to be shifted from a place where he was more urgently needed, and in the sad fact that the New Zealand Government, and the community it represented, felt an obligation to educate the indigenous people, but were unable to provide, or unwilling to train, an adequate number of qualified teaching staff.

It was these factors, and a letter of introduction to the Prime Minister, that led to the appointment, apparently with little more than a token inspection of his qualifications, of a man who had had less than three years at school himself. For teacher and community this expedient was to end in disappointment.