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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 22. 14th September 1972

The Resurrection of Maori Identity

page 8

The Resurrection of [unclear: Maori] Identity

This article was taken from a Maori Organisation on Human Rights newsletter and was written by Poata Entera of Nga Tamatoa Council.

The Maori has finally realised that his identity as a Maori is in jeopardy. His once sacred culture has been commercialised, the land of his ancestors has been taken away from him and his native tongue has just about been torn out of his mouth. The Maori is quickly realising that very soon, unless severe measures are taken his identity as a Maori will be as extinct as the Moa.

The Maori just wants to be what he was and is, a Maori! He doesn't want to be a brown skinned New Zealander. He is proud of his ancestors and ancestral background, and he is proud of his customs and traditions. He is very hurt and disgusted when he sees that his customs and his culture are being used by the Pakeha as nothing more than a "tourist gimmick"! How do you think he feels when he sees the haka - Ka Mate Ka Mate Ka Ora Ka Ora, Ka Mate Ka Mate Ka Ora Ka Ora, Kia Kaha E Tai Tamariki Ma - and when it has finished the Pakehas applaud. They applaud the people who have just issued them with a war challenge!

The Maori doesn't want, and won't let his customs, traditions, beliefs and land be degraded, commercialised and taken away from him. Do you believe that Maui fished up the North Island of New Zealand with a flax line and bone hook? You find that a bit hard to believe? Well, I find it a bit hard to believe that Moses opened up the Red Sea with a walking stick.

If the Maoris took away something that you and your ancestors believed in, how would you feel?

The Pakeha is now in possession of 66 million acres of land, leaving the Maori, or tangata when-ua - people of the land - with a mere 4.7 million acres. These figures alone, without any other examples, show just how much the letter and the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi, referred to as the foundation of New Zealand, has been observed or honoured.

The Maoris know that if the foundations of anything are not stable, there is little or no hope for whatever is built on those foundations, unless those foundations are repaired or replaced.

Throughout New Zealand history will be found misdealings and raw deals from the Pakehas towards the Maori. But don't think that the Maori took these lying down! Maoris like (to name but a few) Hone Heke, Rewi Maniopoto and T.W. Ratana had fought for the rights of the Maori. But, inevitably, the Pakeha has turned the Maori heroes into villains. The Pakeha has recorded in history books and through other means that Hone Heke was a villain, Rewi Maniapoto was insane, and T.W. Ratana was an alcoholic and a fake. But to me, as a Maori, these three men were heroes. Heroes in every sense of the word! Men who fought for the rights of their people, men who fought for the equality promised, who fought for their people's land and men who tried to get the best for their people.

Drawing of Maori designs

The voice of the Maori has never been acknowledged throughout New Zealand's history. The Maori has been completely ignored by the European. Taking a few examples:

1843 - Three years after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, there was discontent expressed amongst the Maori people, which in turn led to the 52 Chiefs of the North, who had, only three years ago, signed the Treaty, approaching the Governor and demanding that a committee be set up to inquire into the misdealings of land which were a direct violation of the Treaty.

The committee, needless to say, was never set up, therefore nothing was done for the Maori people.

1932 - T.W. Ratana presented to Parliament a petition with 40,000 Maori signatures on it, for the ratification of the Treaty of Waitangi. This petition was completely rejected.

1967 - When the 1967 Maori Affairs Amendment (LandGrab) Act was presented to Parliament, hundreds of Maori individuals - including the four Maori Parliamentary representatives and the Maori King - and Maori groups and councils, objected strongly against the Act. Again the voice of the Maori was disregarded and the Act was passed.

1971 - Still a feeling of discontent amongst the Maori. At Waitangi a protest was held against the most insincere document in the history of New Zealand, Again, the Pakehas looked on these people as they did on Hone Heke.

The Tamatoa Council, who participated in the protest, asked Duncan MacIntyre, "Do you really expect the Maoris to have faith and trust in you and the Maori Affairs Department when at the top of the power structure sits Mr. Jock McEwen, who was one of the authors of the 1967 Maori Affairs Amendment Act, and yourself, who was one of the people in Parliament who voted for the passing of the Act?"

In May 1971 Nga Tamatoa Council published a two-page Newsletter "The Fly", dealing further with Maori identity, education and details of Polynesian gangs.

The Stormtroopers, the Nigs, the Junior Nigs, the Boot Hill, the Spades, the Panthers, the Mongrels, the Tribe.

Polynesian gangs. Of the past, of the present. What about the future? There is an increasing number of Polynesian-dominated gangs springing up all through New Zealand but particularly in the biggest Polynesian populated city in the world - Auckland. Are these gangs problems? I'll leave that question because it will answer itself in the following.

The Stormtroopers

Formed in Otara, Auckland, in 1970. The membership of the Storm troopers ranges from 80 — 250 strong. They, and other gangs, were brought to the public's attention when they were interviewed on the TV programme 'Gallery'. Why were they fo[unclear: a]med? This question was put to various members of the 'Stormies' by Dr. Brian Edwards on the programme. Their answers were the same. 'Because there was nothing to do at Otara, and we got together for company. And we were sick of other gangs coming into Otara and belting our mates.' Research revealed (after this program) that there were no recreational facilities and no form of social facilities. That was back in 1970 What about today? The Storm troopers of today are respected among a lot of residents at Otara because on the 1st May, which was the Saturday night Otara had 'dancing in the street' to colebrate the Auckland City Centennial, members of the Stormies fought with the gang the Hell's Angels, who had come to Otara to disrupt the activities, but were driven away by the Storm troopers. After the Hell's Angels left, the Stormies escorted young members of the Otara community safely to their front doorstep. Most important is the respect among the elder Maoris earned by the Storm troopers at various maraes around the northern parts of the North Island. Other activities they have participated in have been: Fund raising pop concert they organised for the 'Save Queen Victoria School' appeal in which they raised 2000 dollars to stop the closing of Queen Victoria School, and the labour they supplied for restoration of maraes. Storm troopers' uniform: Denim jackets with a skull and crossbone symbol painted usually in red and white with the words 'Stormtroopers' below.

Boot Hill

Formed in 1967, the same year that the controversial 1967 Maori Affairs Amendment Act was passed. The membership of the Boot Hill gang ranged from 30 - 90 strong. The majority of the members lived on the hill above the Orakei Reserve in Auckland. It is interesting to note that in 1952, the Government confiscated the land on which the Orakei Marae stood and also acres of land that had been surrounding the marae. It was confiscated under the Public Works Act, 'to be used as a public reserve', but only a few acres were used as a public reserve while the remaining acreage was subdivided and sold in ½ acre sections for multiple the amount that was reimbursed to the Maori owners. The Maoris were naturally upset over the loss of their marae and took an anti-pakeha attitude which would have influenced their children to take the same attitude. The members of the Boot Hill were brought up with a 'hate the pakeha' complex, which in turn led to the forming of a gang and taking also a 'hate society' complex. The Boot Hill gang were the most notorious gang in Auckland. What of them today? The Boot Hill gang have disbanded, to the relief of most of the residents of Auckland. They disbanded early in 1970. The Boot Hill gang wore no set uniform.


Formed in Ponsonby, Auckland, in 1969. Their membership ranged from about 60 - to indefinite numbers. It was formed because of the lack of recreational and social facilities. It was also formed to protect themselves from rival gangs who - 'invaded their territory'. The Nigs 'headquarters' was in Ponsonby Billiard Parlour, which is within a stone's throw of the well-known hotels - Gluepot and Suffolk. Their rivals were the 'Spades', who were another gang from the same area. The Nigs were a peace-loving gang compared to other gangs of the same period. The Nigs 'fathered' another gang in the area: They were known as the 'Junior Nigs' whose membership comprised the younger members from the Ponsonby area who weren't old enough to join the Senior Nigs.

Junior Nigs

Formed about three months after the original 'Nigs' started. They got together for much the same reason as their 'idols'. The Junior Nigs, about 70 strong, were involved more with the Police and the Welfare departments than their 'fathers' were. Their ages never exceeded 16 years and the youngest was only 9 years old. The Junior Nigs and the Senior Nigs have quietened down considerably these days. The Nigs had no set uniform.

page 9


[unclear: d] in Ponsonby in Auckland in 1969. The [unclear: s], consisting of unknown numbers was [unclear: d] from the overflow of the Nigs gang. The [unclear: s] were formed mainly because they could-[unclear: ong] to the the Nigs, or because of person-[unclear: conflicts] within the Nig gang, resulting in [unclear: ers] leaving and joining the spades. This, of [unclear: ,] forming conflicts between the two gangs. [unclear: Spades] have since disbanded. The Spades [unclear: o] set uniform.

[unclear: K] Power & Panthers

[unclear: d] in Otahuhu in 1969. These two gangs [unclear: t] gangs in the sense that one usually [unclear: asso-] with the word. They were formed because [unclear: lack] of recreational facilities. The original [unclear: on] when these two gangs were formed was [unclear: was] not to be gangs, but more along the [unclear: line]. The downfall of the clubs was the [unclear: nt] 'victimisation' by the Police. The two [unclear: continued] regardless, but were force to [unclear: dist-hrough] constant Police raids, interrogations [unclear: atings]. After disbanding, some members [unclear: original] clubs decided to carry on with [unclear: ib], but not with the 'original intentions', [unclear: et] another 'gang', equal to the Boot Hill [unclear: was] born.

[unclear: Tribe]

[unclear: ed] in Auckland in 1970. The members of [unclear: ibe] came from all over the Auckland [unclear: prov-]. [unclear: This] was the most unique gang one could [unclear: come] across. The 120-indefinite numbers [unclear: all] females. Why were they formed? [unclear: Accord-] the leader of the Tribe, the were formed [unclear: tect] themselves and their boyfriends! [unclear: An-] reason she says was 'If the boys can go [unclear: a- in] gangs and gang up on a girl, why can't [unclear: the] same?' The Tribe also had a basketball [unclear: and] every Saturday morning they would. [unclear: This], in many people's eyes including social [unclear: rs], was a very good thing. Unfortunately [unclear: ibe] disbanded.

[unclear: Mongrels]

[unclear: s] the latest addition to the list. Formed in [unclear: es] Bay in 1970. The numbers in this gang [unclear: far] unknown. They were recently brought [unclear: public's] attention when they allegedly [unclear: ted] an outdoor pop concert. It is [unclear: interest-] note that the 'scandal rag', the Truth, [unclear: on] the front page Maori gang [unclear: Upt] Pop Festival. Reading the [unclear: re-0f] the court case in the same newspaper, [unclear: s] such as O'Leary, McDonald, MacIntosh [unclear: opeared]. There seemed to be only one [unclear: Maori] mentioned. Interesting?

[unclear: Thing] that comes to notice on examination [unclear: of] gangs is that they consist all nationalities [unclear: ic)]. You very rarely see Europeans in [unclear: the.] One in the Storm troopers and no more [unclear: cen] in the others combined. Other gangs [unclear: as] 'Hells Angels' are always dominated by [unclear: eans] and only occasionally do you find a [unclear: number] of Polynesians in a 'European gang'

[unclear: reasons] I found for the forming of such are:

[unclear: ck] of social and recreational facilities, [unclear: ompanionship]

[unclear: rotection]

[unclear: And] I feel this is the most important reason, [unclear: which] is to establish an identity.

In the Maoris' case, a young Maori of today realises that he is different from his parents, who are Maori, because :
(a)they speak the Maori language
(b)they know who their ancestors were
(c)they know the Maori customs, culture and traditions.

In fact he knows nothing about what he is supposed to be, except the Maori values. His parents say to him, "we won't teach you our language because the pakeha will punish you if you speak it at school. We won't teach you the Maori culture because all you have to do is look in a souvenir shop. We won't tell you who your ancestors are because they will only tell you that they were bad just like they have done in school history books. You will have to learn from the pakeha because this country is run for the pakeha by the pakeha!"

So the young Maori goes out to learn from the pakeha, but only finds that the pakeha rejects him because he is a Maori!

He meets other people who are in a similar situation, i.e. no identity, and eventually finds a substitute identity, be it Stormtrooper, Nig, Spade or what-have-you. Not only does he have an identity, but he also has security.

This is not the Maori parents' fault entirely. Over the past century the pakeha has been attempting to assimilate the Maori into the European race, but obviously they have failed to a certain extent. What they succeeded in doing is - throwing the younger Maori generation into an absolute state of confusion. This generation is the [unclear: procducts] of a plan to assimilate the Maori which has failed and has left devastating scars relating to the younger generation. Solution? I think that is up to you individually.


This is where something should be done. At present, the educational system is geared to turning out brown-skinned New Zealanders. To give young Maoris the identity that is rightfully theirs, this is the place to start. Firstly, I think that the Maori language and aspects of the Maori culture should be made available in all schools. This I feel will lead to a far more meaningful concept of integration.

On the 8th and 9th May, which was a week-end, Nga Tamatoa introduced a group of young pakehas to the marae environment. This was a very successful venture for all parties concerned. The introduction of the pakehas to the marae environment was for two reasons:
(a)to show the pakeha another side of Maoridom which they weren't able to see through a souvenir shop window
(b)to show pakehas why the Maori tends to take a 'possessive attitude' whenever ideas on 'urban maraes' are expounded.

The Urban Marae:

I feel that the term 'marae' is often used far too loosely. The way I have heard people talk about the 'urban maraes' often leads me to understand that they are talking about community centres. The marae, which people often forget, is also used for the laying of bodies in state, and where people who know the deceased can go to pay their respects. These huis continue for three or four days and have been known to continue for much longer. An 'urban marae' in Auckland, Te Unga Waka, is in my eyes a failure. On one occasion, there was a tangi being held upstairs while a dance was held downstairs which is making a mockery of both the marae and tangihanga. Another problem that I have observed with the 'urban marae' is the site on which it is placed. For example, the Mangere marae in Auckland has received numerous complaints from local residents about 'all the noise that goes on'. When the women welcome people onto the marae, and it is a still night, their high-pitched voices carry for a considerable distance. So, a site for a marae is most important. There is more to a marae than just a carved meeting house. You will notice that nearly every site that a marae is erected on, it has a historic background. So, if you intend erecting an 'urban marae', I would suggest that you contact the local kaumatua[unclear: i] of the area and seek his guidance, and also spend a week-end on a marae.

For any suggestions, information, suits for libel, criticisms etc. write to: Poata Eruera, Sec. Nga Tamatoa Council — also for Enrolment — Subscriber Fees: 50 cents.

Tama tu tama ora tama noho tama mata

Tama tu tama ora tama noho tama mata