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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 21, No. 2. March 27, 1958


The mediator was the man between and intimate with two cultures, and his work, whatever it was, was consented to or asked for by the community, said Mr E. Schwimmer.

Turning first to the mediator in the field, Mr Schwimmer stated that he found himself restricted in two ways. "First, there are some parts of himself and the cultural background about which he cannot speak with his new friends, since they would not understand, and second, there are some parts of the community life with which it is not wise to become involved."

The mediator should not become identified with any 'sore spots' of the community, as did a Professor, who criticised Western civilisation before a Maori audience, as a means of getting support. But since the Professor represented Western civilisation to that group he failed; first, because he revealed his personal feelings about Western civilisation, and second, because he had wrongly interpreted the group's attitude to Western civilisation. "The mediator is no mere manipulator of a community; from one point of view he is merely a member of it and he has to play the role the community assigns to him."

It was hard to analyse how one became a successful mediator. Ostensibly the initiative was his but on the other hand he must wait for the Maori to signify that he had been accepted by the community: It was also dangerous for the mediator who had been given a role to assume he had been given any complete authority. In certain rare cases the stranger was offered a full community role, particularly when mediators were sent to an area to introduce far reaching changes in a short time, working through the traditional leadership of the community. In such cases the mediator became an influential leader and the symbol of the progress made even though he did not aspire to that role.