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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 37, No 21. August 28, 1974

Te Huinga Rangatahi

page 8

Te Huinga Rangatahi

A Victoria law student, Hakopa Te Whata, was elected to be the new Tumuaki of Te Huinga Rangatahi o Aotearoa at their hui (conference) in the August holidays. The title of Tumuaki replaces the Pakeha title 'president', just as the name Te Huinga earlier replaced what was called the New Zealand Federation of Maori Students.

This federation has been in existence for about 20 years, and has helped to fulfil the need for the relatively few Maoris who make it through the Pakeha education system, to gather regularly and share experiences and plans. Past members include many current leaders in the Maori community, including two Cabinet ministers.

This year's president has been Brian McDonald, an Auckland student, whose most notable achievement has been the production of the Maori newspaper Rongo with the help of Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, John Miller and others. Brian and co. organised the hui of Te Huinga at Mangere in May of this year, and the August hui at Whatawhata marae near Hamilton.

Hakopa Te Whata is from Ngapuhi mainly, from the North Auckland area. He has been active in Victoria's Te Reo Maori Society, and is a strong advocate of the Maori language. Ideally, he would like to see it learned by all New Zealanders

At this stage he is unsure of how he sees Te Huinga and what he hopes to achieve. He stresses that he does not see it as an individual effort. Policy will be shaped by a working party in Wellington and developed by all rangatahi at their hui

Hakopa has inherited a loose-knit and diverse organisation. Membership ranges from University Maori clubs to politically oriented groups like Nga Tamatoa. It was between parts of these groups that a considerable division could be seen at the August hui.

Hakopa Te Whata

Hakopa Te Whata

After powhiri (welcomes) from locals, and after the first taste of the ample catering, the Whatawhata hui got on to business. Speakers from Nga Tamatoa gave mild speeches on the need for unity among Maoris and the need for social and political work. In particular they emphasised the need to spread Te Reo Maori as a vehicle of thought which also gives identity and understanding.

But Hana Jackson's pronouncement that "if you think you're not political you might as well dig a hole and bury yourself alive" was too much for some. People from the more isolated South Island wanted to concentrate on getting their groups together. They imagined that it was possible to work for recognition of Maori language and culture and still be non-political. "We are doing our thing," said one, "we do it our way, you do it your way."

A Tamatoa speaker brought the meeting back to reality: "We may have trodden on a helluva lot of toes, but the toes we have trodden on hardest are the leaders and those who have been spreading the illusion that this is the perfect, multiracial society."

Much time was wasted at the meeting discussing structure and communication between groups. The more basic and often political issues should have been thrashed out at the hui to find whether there was anything to have a structure of, and anything worth communicating between the diverse elements.

Later discussion on Maori Language Week activities was profitable, however, as various groups discussed and co-ordinated activities. Wellington is holding its week from September 8 and finishing on National Maori Language Day, September 14. Auckland hopes to benefit from the publicity generated by Wellington and is having its week following September 14.