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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

The War Dance

The War Dance.

The Maori war dance was looked forward to as a feature of the Jubilee celebrations. At the hour fixed for the dance, four o'clock, there was a large concourse of people gathered on the racecourse. The small grandstand was crowded with persons eager to witness the performance, and even the steps of the stand from top to bottom were closely packed. When the Maoris arrived on the scene they were taken to the centre of the field, inside the racecourse. They were, however, soon surrounded by a crowd of people, and it was found impossible to keep the spectators back, in order that the dance might begin. There were only two or three policemen present, and they were practically useless in the matter of keeping back the public. No provision, indeed, had been made to preserve a clear space for the Maoris. There was no portion of the ground fenced or roped off, as might easily, of course, have been done. The Maoris finding it impossible to dance in the field, moved forward to the racecourse proper in front of the grandstand. Here again the the or three police, aided by a few civilians and some of the Maoris, vainly attempted to keep back the crowd. The native women numbering about 50, all attired in light flowing garments, started one of their dances, and the performance was loudly applauded by the assembled multitude, but they were soon compelled to desist dancing, owing to the crowd crushing in upon them. The men then attempted to give a war dance, but were unable to do so in consequence of the people pressing in on them. The natives who were to have given the war dance numbered about 250, and these were all Waikatos. It appears that there was some disagreement between the Ngapuhis and the Waikatos, and the result was that the former did not put in an appearance. The dusky warriors were gradually forced along the racecourse towards the road, until they at last became disgusted and left the ground, much to the disappointment and annoyance of the spectators. His Excellency the Governor arrived on the ground shortly after four o'clock. He was accompanied by his suite, and Admiral Lord Charles Scott, Sir John and Lady Thurston, and several members of the Reception Committee. No special provision bad been made for the Governor and his party, and they had to crush through the crowd on the steps of the grandstand in order to reach a place where they could get a view. After the Maoris gave up their attempt to dance, the Rarotongan natives performed one of their strange dances on a small space which they managed to secure just below the stand.