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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 2. 1965.

NZ Contrasts

NZ Contrasts

Children walking towards photographer

It has become the "done thing" to say "Of course, we in New Zealand have a colour problem, but we will not admit It." This sort of statement Is easy to make, but it is harder to substantiate. Recently the writer of this article spent a few weeks in the East Cape area of the North Island, and was particularly interested to see the Maoris in that area. Two particular impressions were gained.

The first is that the children there must be amongst the happiest in the world. They play together for hours on end without ever quarrelling. And yet they did not need company to be happy: frequently a young Maori child would be observed quietly walking up and down a road, watching, observing much, and doing little.

The second impression gained was that the adult Maori male can be a particularly good worker. A good example of this was afforded one evening near Tokomaru Bay, where a Maori gang was loading a coaster with wool bales. The all-Maori gang, with a Maori foreman, worked calmly, never hurrying, yet never stopping, for hours. At the end of this time all the wool was loaded and so they packed up and left.

An engineer of the coaster claimed that this was typical of the behaviour of all-Maori dock crews. He said that he would far rather that his ship was loaded by Maoris than by whites, who, particularly in Wellington, were always looking for the slightest excuse to lay off work.

He said that these Maoris did not only load ships (indeed they could not, for ships called there only infrequently), They would do anything that was offering—truck driving, shearing, fencing, tree-felling, and road construction to give but a few examples. So the Maoris are not only skilled wharfies, but they are skilled at many other Jobs as well.

So much in the meantime then for the Maori in the environment which is predominantly his own. What of the Maori in the European Society?

Evidence suggests that this is not so happy. Mr. John Rangihau of the Maori Affairs Department told students at the New Zealand Students' Association Congress recently.

"I have been refused accommodation in hotels from Auckland to Invercargill, and simply because I am a Maori."

He told how he had worked out that there was discrimination against him as a Maori, for, he said, "I have gone around the corner and rung the same place up and said, I am Mr. So and So,' and given a pakeha name, and they have said, 'Yes,' and then they have turned around and said. "Oh! But I am sorry, but I thought Mr. So and So was a Pakeha.'

"This was quite straight out like this," he said, "and they have done this to me, and they have been doing this to almost everyone else. Legislation has been passed so that this sort of thing ... this wrong can be righted, but if we can sit back and say that Maoriatanga and what it stands for must die out, so that people like myself and others can be treated in the same way as any other person, then I think we would be deluding ourselves, because It would be better for Maoris to be able to keep their own identification, and yet fit in with the total society of New Zealand."

This article has reported on three observations of Maori-Pakeha relationships. But three observations are not enough to form a judgment. Accordingly. Salient considers that it would be worthwhile if all students could write of any incidents, trivial or important, that they have witnessed or can authenticate, that would help to elucidate the true nature of the relationships existing in New Zealand at present between the Maori and the Pakeha.

This way the observations of many people will be recorded, and the effect of any one person's observations and bias will be reduced.

The task of collating the information received at the editorial room will be undertaken by Salient's staff and the results will be published in due course. If sufficient people contribute, the study could be well worthwhile.