Volume 67 1958 > Volume 67, No. 3 > Attitudes to the Maori in some Pakeha fiction, by W. H. Pearson, p 211-238
ATTITUDES TO THE MAORI IN SOME PAKEHA FICTION
IN THIS ESSAY I hope to analyse the attitudes towards the Maori shown by some Pakeha writers of fiction who have chosen to write about Maoris or Maori-Pakeha relations. 1 I should like to make these qualifications, however. This essay is no attempt at a complete historical survey of Pakeha fiction dealing with Maoris. A complete survey would mean reading at least a hundred books in six libraries from Auckland to Dunedin; I venture to doubt if it would reveal more than repetitions and variations of the attitudes shown in the novels and stories I have read. Further, one should recall that a full history of Pakeha attitudes to the Maori has already been patently expressed in the post-European history of New Zealand, in Land Court proceedings, in statutes and in political acts of peace and war, in the thousands of day-to-day actions of officials, policemen, clergymen, journalists, teachers, landladies, employers and store-keepers; and that this study is subsidiary to that. All that it amounts to is a survey of attitudes to the Maori as expressed in more easily available novels and stories by some (mainly male) Pakehas of some intelligence and sensitivity. I think that, with some slight variation, these attitudes are representative of common contemporary attitudes, conscious and unconscious. 2
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
It seems necessary to begin with some survey of Maori attempts at adaptation to European occupation before the period in which these novels and stories were written. This sketch is, of course, a compilation from the research of historical writers and may contain errors of interpretation (though I hope not of fact) for which I am responsible.
We should recall that in pre-European times the Maori were an industrious people, that their main energies went to producing food and clothing and shelter with primitive implements, that their tribal fighting was confined to the season between planting and harvesting. It was after the Pakeha's introduction of the musket that fighting became so fierce, so destructive and depopulating. Hongi's murderous campaign killed tens of thousands. In the north, the Ngapuhi were exposed to rum, disease and traffic in women, from escaped convicts and deserted seamen. Throughout the North Island, the missionaries were destroy- - 212 ing old beliefs, and the new religion was quickly accepted by the tribes ravaged by the wars of Hongi and Te Rauparaha. The Maori at first welcomed the Pakeha, and recognised that they could learn much from him: they were very adaptable and soon began to make progress. By the mid-century, a very high proportion of Maoris could read and write. They grew wheat, potatoes, maize and kumara for the Pakeha market in Australia and New Zealand; they ground the wheat in their mills and bought and manned schooners to deliver it.
But this prosperity was interrupted by a sudden fall in prices, which they could not understand. Then, when the Pakeha population came to equal that of the Maori, when the Maori could see that, in spite of the Treaty of Waitangi, their land was steadily being bought and that the Government was encouraging the sale of land from individuals who, by tribal tradition, had no right to sell it, Maoris sought to forget their tribal differences and to oppose the further sale of land. So there was the King Movement and then the bitter wars and the confiscations of land that followed. Yet it was not the defeated tribes who were first adversely affected and whose population first began to decrease. Ironically, as Mr. Sorrenson has shown, 3 it was the friendly tribes, from whom the Native Land Courts were busy prising their lands. The Courts would establish the title of those Maoris who were willing to sell. Store-keepers would ply Maoris with goods on credit, especially liquor, and run them into debt, and then claim their land in payment. Since the Courts met in towns away from the tribal lands and since they sat for months but did not announce when cases would come before them, those Maoris who were opposed to sale of land and wanted to establish their title to it, were forced to spend months in town with unsatisfactory shelter, poor food, accumulating debts. As well they had to pay Court and survey expenses and the expenses of a Pakeha lawyer. When the bills came in they had to sell the land to pay them. Either way they lost. Maoris said the white man's peace was more devastating than his wars.
The consequence was a disruption of the old Maori social organisation. Those, like the Taranaki Maoris living at Parihaka under Te Whiti, who tried to preserve their old social forms and at the same time adapt themselves effectively to the new Pakeha order, were successful and maintained their self-respect and rate of population till their settlement was destroyed by the Pakeha government. Any attempt at social integration was impossible without land, and Government and settler were hungry for land. Except for those areas which had been least subjected to pressure for land sales, the Maori people were defeated, their leaders dead or dispirited, their lands gone, and their old traditions broken: besides this, they no longer had much confidence in the Pakeha, in his laws or his religion. This distrust was old: writing of the period before the outbreak of the wars, Keith Sinclair has said: “The European, as the Maori saw him, was as unpleasant a figure as the settlers' stereotype Maori: he was greedy, arrogant, lacking in courtesy, selfish—in other words, individualistic. He treated Maori women as prostitutes, and being without natural decency, deserted his - 213 half-caste children.” 4 If in the fifties the Maoris were so suspicious of the Pakeha, they were even more so in the seventies and eighties.
The Maori lost confidence in the future. This is the period in which the Maori population declined (42, 113 in 1896), and the race was thought to be dying; when the Maori tried to make adjustment in the form of semi-religious, semi-nationalistic cults, beginning with the Hauhau movement and ending with Ratana, which tried to incorporate old Maori traditions with European innovations as a means of survival; when Maori prophets arose; when the Maori got the reputation among the Pakeha for indolence, improvidence, shiftlessness and unreliability. He was inactive because there was no hope for his people; the Pakeha found him unreliable because the Maori didn't trust him; he was improvident because there was no future for him. The old people smoked their pipes, brooded and asked, E taea te aha? What is the use? Many Maoris worked under contract, clearing forests, draining swamps, surveying, building roads, fencing; when they worked for the Pakeha, they worked mostly at unskilled jobs.
In 1906, Dr. Pomare, Maori Health Officer, wrote: “There is no alternative but to become a Pakeha . . . There is no hope for the Maori but in ultimate absorption by the Pakeha.” 5
It was in this period that Alfred A. Grace's stories and Baucke's sketches were written. Pakeha attitudes to the Maori throughout this time were either hostile or patronising. According to Dr. Sinclair: “They called these brown folk, whom they regarded as dirty, degraded, lazy or immoral, ‘blacks’ or ‘niggers’. They despised them: but in many parts of the country they also feared them.” 6 Mr. Allen Curnow has drawn my attention to the ambivalent attitude much earlier than this in Alfred Domett the poet, who found it poetically appropriate to see the Maori as the noble savage:
But as a practical politician speaking in the New Zealand Assembly in 1860 his attitude was very different. When he was invited by T. F. Forsaith, member for the city of Auckland, to envisage the deathbed of Reretawhangawhanga, father of Wiremu Kingi, and to imagine the dying father's last instructions to his son, Domett was reported: “he had gone in imagination with him into the hut, in spite of the many disagreeable little occupants it probably contained, and had pictured to - 214 himself, emerging from the gloom in the corner, the red eyeballs and blue face of the old—ruffian he would not say, but of the venerable marauding cannibal and freebooter.” Domett imagined his “ferocious features” illumined by “the last gleams of baffled cupidity”, and presented in opposition to Forsaith's touching description of a dying father, a picture of a vigorous man in full health, with “jawbones probably yet aching with the mastication of title-deeds in the shape of the limbs of former owners.” 7
A fine old sturdy stalwart stubborn chief
Was Tangi-Moana the “Wailing Sea”:
Both brave and wise in his degree . . .
Did he not look, aye, every inch a chief?
Did not each glance and gesture stamp him then,
Self-heralded a God-made King of men?
At worst, the Pakeha attitude was that he had every right to occupy the land of uncivilised heathens and the sooner they died out the better. At best, it was one of indulgence, as in two of the late Blanche Baughan's stories (1912) 8: being kind to them, showing yourself as cunning as they are, and then giving them some tobacco. Naughty, lovable children, but you could manage them if you understood them.
Grace's stories, Tales of a Dying Race (1901) 9, do make some effort to understand. Grace had had a lot of experience of Maoris and he had quite a respect for them. His attitude is a little like that of a Pakeha-Maori, who, as he calls it, “speaks the lingo”. He takes it for granted that they are rogues, but he prefers to write of their way of living rather than of conventional and self-righteous Pakeha life for which he had little sympathy. “The heathen in his blindness,” he said, 10 “[is] blessed with an ideality of which the cultivated, artificial, unnatural pakeha knows nothing.” So he tells two stories in which white men “take to the blanket” and marry Maori girls, when their Pakeha fiancees have jilted them because of their (till now, innocent) acquaintance with the Maori girls. 11 Grace was the son of a missionary and he has a dislike for missionaries, for the tohunga of either Maori or Pakeha religion. He admires the Maori's freedom from puritanical conventions and he likes to offend conventional Pakeha tastes with stories of Maori warfare and cannibalism. One of his Maoriland Stories (1895) is of a Maori girl spurned by a white lover, who agrees to marry a Maori suitor if he will go to Auckland and bring back the head of her old lover's new Pakeha wife—and he does. 12
“Te Wiria's Potatoes” is told in Grace's usual clumsy fashion of short episodes, like scenes in a play. 13 The people are the Ngati-ata, a - 215 small hapu on the coast, probably near the Waikato heads, though possibly on the Firth of Thames. Te Wiria is Villiers, a Pakeha who has built his house on an old pa and farms the land around it, and who maintains an attitude of benevolence towards the Ngati-ata. Their chief Tohitapu offers him the manpower to dig his crop of potatoes, but in the night the fifty sacks disappear. When Villiers goes to Tohi to complain, all the chief does is reproach his men, and he resumes his meal of pork and baked potatoes. Grace makes no generalisations: he only says that these people helped themselves to Villiers's potatoes, and that if they were unrepentant, Villiers was a romantic old fool to expect them to feel grateful to him. It is ironic that while Villiers, who has dispossessed the Ngati-ata, feels that they are downtrodden, and that they are his protégés, Tohitapu their chief calls him his Pakeha, as if he is his protégé. But while Grace thinks Villiers's original attitude to the Maoris sentimental, he does not conclude that the Ngati-ata should be treated harshly. He prefers Villiers's attitude to that of a prim maiden aunt in another story who is scared out of bed and back to England by an early-morning visit from a toothless, half-blind, half-dressed woman a hundred years old. 14
Grace also wrote a novel, Atareta, Belle of the Kainga (1908); and in 1910 Hone Tiki Dialogues, to which I shall return.
William Baucke was a successful farmer in the King Country and like Grace, he had a natural sympathy for the Maori and many Maoris respected him. His book Where the White Man Treads Across the Pathway of the Maori (1905) is a selection of articles contributed to the New Zealand Herald and the Auckland Weekly News. He is more earnest than Grace, less tolerant. We haven't treated the Maori well, he argues, and we've got to elevate him whether he likes it or not, and that is “the weight of the white man's burden”. The trouble with you Maoris, he says, is that you are lazy, you imitate the vices of the Pakeha, and you keep inter-marrying within your own tribes. What you have to do is marry women of other tribes, forget your tribal jealousies and your distrust of the Pakeha, and learn to imitate the Pakeha virtues while avoiding the vices.
One of his sketches, “A Quaint Friendship”, 15 tells of a meeting with an old Maori woman first on a train and later at her whare in the King Country. There he meets also the old woman's grandson who is rude to both of them. This particular sketch is, as Miss Sturm has pointed out to me, comparable with Goldie's paintings of the same time and attempts to show the changes happening to the race: changes symbolised by the gulf between the generations—the old grandmother living on her memories, condemning the modern generation as drunkards, gamblers and lechers, and her demoralised, ill-mannered grandson. She is of Ngati-Maniapoto; her husband had been killed in the wars in the Waikato and she had strong reason to hate the Pakeha. And though she despises the ways of her grandson, she loves him because for her he represents the future of the race. Baucke, admiring - 216 the grandmother and despising her grandson, represents the sensitive conscience of the Pakeha, appalled at the results of his own work, and he is anxious that this continual reproach should be removed.
THE 20TH CENTURY
But in fact the regeneration came, as it had to come, from the Maori themselves, and partly by a means that Baucke condemned as useless, higher education, by the efforts of the group of ex-students of Te Aute College who formed the Young Maori Party. The Ngati-Porou of the East Coast, who had been less affected by the Pakeha occupation and had retained most of their land, turned to sheep-farming, and later also dairy farming; a thing which, according to Grace and Baucke, was impossible for a “warrior race”. Sir James Carroll, a part-Maori, urged the people not to forget their Maoritanga. There were signs of the beginning of a new hope and consciousness of identity, a determination not to be absorbed or assimilated. Since then, the Maori economic position has improved and Maoris are now taking up skilled and professional jobs more than formerly. The population in June, 1958, was estimated at 148,248, over three times what it has been in 1896. 16 Of the Maori population at the end of 1955, 59 per cent were under 21 (as against 38 per cent Pakeha). 17 The birthrate in 1957 was 46 per 1,000 (as against 24 per 1,000 Pakeha) and the natural increase of the Maori population 3.6 per cent (as against 1.5 per cent Pakeha). Even so, the average Maori has fourteen to sixteen years' less expectation of life than the average Pakeha; and infant mortality in the five years 1953-57 was 67 per 1,000 births (compared with 20 per 1,000 Pakeha births). 18
Further, according to the 1951 census, the proportion of Maoris among the lower income-groups was higher than that of Pakeha; and about one-eighth of Maori houses were of a standard most Pakeha would despise—huts, whares and baches. 19
LITERARY ATTITUDES OF THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY
None of the serious writers of the period between Grace and the depression wrote of the Maori as he was living at the time. In the collection New Zealand Short Stories (1930), in spite of the editor's handsome mention of “the delightful Maori race”, his assurance that “many stories” in the book are about Maoris and his hope that in time Pakeha absorption of the Maori would give New Zealanders both “a slight golden tinge” and “a love of high poetic imagery” to offset their oppressive practicality, there are in fact only five stories of Maoris, and only one of them of contemporary Maoris, and that one is hostile. 20- 217
The Maori as a Romantic Character
There were the “Maori romances”, like F. O. V. Acheson's novel Plume of the Arawas (1930), like two of Grace's Maoriland Stories 21 and his Atareta, Belle of the Kainga, like H. B. Vogel's novel The Maori Maid (1896), and like two of Robin Hyde's stories. 22 These often concerned the tragic love of two Maoris, or the tragedy of a half-caste girl. It is strange that Pakeha writers felt that they could best confer a noble dignity on the Maori when he could be made a tragic figure, as Jessie Weston had done with her half-caste heroine Mary in Ko Meri (1890), daughter of a British general and a Maori chief's daughter, whose tragedy was to return to her people from genteel London society and share “the primitive, soulless existence of a barbarian race”. 23 Often too the subject is the love of a white man for a Maori maiden, sometimes a “princess”, 24 but never of a white woman for a Maori man. That would be getting too close to the bone, because these stories tended to move from real possibilities into an idyllic world of the imagination. 25 G. B. Lancaster's “The Story of Wi” 26 is a story of a Maori baby most improbably abandoned by its tribe because its mother had died of disease, just as improbably bought by a white man who raises the boy and, determined to train him to serve his people, trains him so hard that he whips him and draws blood. However, just as improbably, the boy is grateful and is training to be a parson, until he makes the mistake of falling in love with a white girl. He is smartly put in his place and rebels against the white man's culture and religion, and says he will sit in the sun and drink brandy instead. It is not a good story: its people act like puppets and it is worked out like the solution to a problem in algebra. But it is a rare demonstration of a discrepancy in the Pakeha attitude to the Maori.
There had been novels and romances of the Maori wars, in which the Maoris were either ferocious and treacherous, or, later, were sentimentalised melancholy and noble savages and brave warriors. 27
There were also James Cowan's Tales of the Maori Coast (1930) and Tales of the Maori Bush (1934), all of them yarns rather than stories, and not of great merit. Like Satchell's The Greenstone Door (1914), they represent the Maori with dignity; but like that novel they are an attempt to record, before it is too late, the old Maori life before the Pakeha and after his coming till the end of the Maori wars. Some are comic, pathetic, romantic; they emphasise the Maori as a warrior and perpetuate the idea of the noble savage, now no longer with us, a pious memory.- 218
The Maori as a Comic Character
Those who did write of contemporary Maoris were hardly serious writers and their attitude is a dilution of the sardonic humour Grace saw in the situation of the Maori adapting himself to Pakeha ways. Grace began this tradition (which still exists in occasional pub-yarns) with his Hone Tiki Dialogues (1910). In these twelve sketches, which first appeared in journals so diverse as the intellectual Triad and the popular Free Lance, a mythical character in a dented bowler hat philosophises shrewdly and ineptly on Pakeha customs. Sometimes we are meant to wonder at his shrewdness, especially when he remarks on Pakeha women and parsons, but on these subjects Hone Tiki is voicing Grace's own opinions. On the whole, Hone is presented as a clown, and it is notable that Messrs. Gordon & Gotch designed the book for sale on railway stations as light travelling entertainment. These sketches imply, in Joan Gries's words, “the hopelessness of the Maori's efforts to adapt himself to the European way of life”. 28 It is a rationalisation of Pakeha superiority to laugh at any Maori attempts at adaptation; and there were many.
Pat Lawlor's collection of over a hundred Maori Tales (1927), only some of which he wrote himself, is a feeble modern imitation of a jest-book like the 100 Merry Tales of the 16th century. It is a collection of paragraphs partly culled from the light Sydney monthly Aussie, rather like those that readers used to write about aboriginals in the Sydney Bulletin, stories about cunning, simple old Hori, his speech full of “prurrys” and “py korrys”. In an introduction to the collection, Dick Harris writes of “that Maori mentality so delightfully compounded of guile and simplicity”. The text of one of the illustrated jokes is enough: 29
Letters from Private Henare Tikitanu was written during the First World War, by V. C. Fussell, Vicar of Waiuku, 30 and the profits of the first edition went to the Blind Soldiers' Fund. It was followed by Corporal Tikitanu, V.C. (1918). Private Tikitanu, described on the back cover as “a fine stamp of Waikato Maori youth” and by the New Zealand Herald reviewer as “a typical Maori soldier”, is half-literate, simple-minded to the point of stupidity, and writes home in mongrel English. He is shrewd to the point of cunning, but his heart is in the right place, full of what the author calls “the latent courage and devotion of his countrymen”. It may be that this book was intended to counter Pakeha hostility at the opposition of Waikato Maoris to enlisting in the white men's war, especially when outstanding claims had not been settled; 31 a hostility that may have pained a vicar who liked Maoris. - 219 though he saw them in part in his own image. Here are some of Henare Tikitanu's observations: 32
So the attitude is as to our pet natives: as if to say, how lucky we are to have a native people who are such simple, lovable children but good fighters when there's a war on, and not always as stupid as you might think either.
The Maori as an Unsympathetic Character
Of course, such a view implies that if the native doesn't co-operate, he must be taught a sharp lesson. And that is the attitude of that patchy exponent of the brotherhood of man, the Australian Henry Lawson, in his story “A Daughter of Maoriland” first published in 1897. 33 Lawson's wife taught for about eight months in 1897 at a native school at Mangamaunu near Kaikoura, while he wrote. The South Island Maori were notoriously dispossessed and depressed rural outcasts in South Island society. The village itself had also suffered earlier from Te Rauparaha's invasion. Lawson's early disillusion is rather like that of those occasional South Island training college students of about fifteen years ago who, never having seen a Maori except on the street, thought it would be exciting to apply for a North Island Maori school and resigned the service within six months.
Lawson's story is of an altruistic teacher who has an ambition to be a writer and hopes to write romantically about a Maori girl pupil. For this reason he helps her when she poses as an ill-treated child and takes her into his home. She deceives him, steals the food, organises her relations against him till he loses patience and fires shots at them and they take to the heels of their horses. It turns out that her relations had plotted the whole strategy, so that they could live cheaply off the teacher. After that he had no more trouble. He gave up his “universal brotherhood” approach and they respected him. This story is sub-titled “A Sketch of Poor-Class Maoris”. The Maoris of the village are described as “lower classes”. The girl is called a “savage” and likened to a cow, a dog, and a pig; she brings “a native smell” into the house; she is “fat, and lazy, and dirty”. This is the only story I have read in- 220
which the adjective Maori is used as an epithet of contempt, as it is in these passages: 35
The hostility of these passages is consistent throughout the story. It is difficult to get behind the malice to sort out what most likely did happen: one more than suspects that the facts have been distorted by editorial comment. But what one notices especially is the unconsciously arrogant assumption that the scale of values of a white man from a colony of European culture in the 1890's (itself no model of enlightenment in its policy towards its indigenous people) is the standard by which the conduct of another people of a different culture and history is to be judged; themselves the victims of aggression and trickery from members of another colony of European culture. Evidently, to Lawson, the brotherhood of man is a closed shop. 36- 221
No doubt Lawson's attitude represented the vicious prejudice of a number of Pakehas of his time (and of a minority today), but they were not the sort of people who wrote fiction (and today are unlikely to write anything more than an occasional letter to a newspaper).
There were other attempts to reinforce current unsympathetic Pakeha attitudes. Two play on the popular fallacy that a man of mixed parentage is a vicious man because he inherits the worst qualities of both races. 37 In one of them, 38 the villian, just about to present a false grievance to his people, is arrested by a stereotype Irish policeman for robbery, deserting his wife, and other crimes. The writer of this story makes the remarkable statement that “the older generation of Maoris knew but two conditions of mind—the phlegmatic calm such as succeeded a big feast, and the wild ecstatic excitement which took charge of them when they danced the haka”.
Fundamentally, all these attitudes have one thing in common, a feeling of guilt about, and a distaste for, the contemporary Maori. The novels of the Maori wars that show him as fierce and treacherous or fierce and brave try to justify his present condition: either he deserved his defeat or he lost in fair fight. The romances look away from the present to a noble past, interpreted according to contemporary European literary attitudes, seeing him as a heroic but pathetic victim inevitably sacrificed to Progress. Pat Lawlor and his contributors and Fussell tame him into a comic figure, look for the “good” in him and seem to imply that his present condition is how he likes to live: when you look for the good in anyone, you don't think much of him. Lawson tells you, quite firmly, with no nonsense, that he has to be kept in his present condition. In more subtle ways some of these attitudes persist in the modern stories of Maoris.
Maori Culture as a Source of Mystery
There were also attempts to exploit the mystery of tapu and makutu: often unbelievable ghost stories written only to play on a reader's sense of awe. Such is Dennis McEldowney's story “By the Lake” (1947). 39 In this story a boy who enters an old burial-cave disappears and a new skull appears on the ledge: a shepherd had previously disappeared and they found only his boots. The man who returns to tell the news changes his mind when he gets back to the boy's nagging mother and decides to follow the boy instead. Now it is true that some of the old-time Pakeha had a great respect for Maori beliefs, and it is true that breaking a tapu can, or at least until recently could, so oppress a Maori with guilt that he becomes sick and dies. But tapu would not so affect these Pakeha of Canterbury, to whom the Maoris are only a memory, as it is made out to do in this ghost story. And if tapu kills, the body is there waiting for tangi and burial; it does not just disappear, so that a new skull appears in a cave. Again, when - 222 the old shepherd was spirited away his boots were left behind, so what happened to Michael's? I suppose this story does represent some sort of awe at the past and at a culture not understood, just as the early 19th century felt strange emotions in contemplating ruined medieval abbeys. But there are rational ways of understanding a strange culture. This story makes no attempt to understand; it exploits an induced mystery and it cannot be taken seriously.
Just as incredible is the story of Constance Player-Green, “The Bird of Rameka”, 40 in which a Maori woman, spurned years before by an English lover, kidnaps his daughter. A tohunga, as wily and evil as tohunga usually are in such writers, inspires a magpie with his own malicious spirit so that when he dies the magpie is the girl's constant guardian and keeps her mad. She becomes sane again as soon as the bird is throttled. In the same collection of stories Arnold Cork's “Te Atua” 41 tells of a man who, believing himself possessed by the spirit of an ancestor, walks in his sleep with a hurricane-lamp, scares his chief to death and his fellow-villagers to evacuation until a Pakeha surveyor shoots him in self-defence. In an obscure way I suppose these stories represent the conflict of European and Maori cultures: two of them dabble with mystery but celebrate the triumph of a materialistic culture, and in Mr. McEldowney's story European culture makes a token abdication when it is too late to make any difference.
A more credible story is Phillip Wilson's “Whare Fever” (1947), in which a Pakeha gum-digging in Northland with a Maori partner comes up against a mystery he respects though he cannot understand it. The young Maori becomes inexplicably ill and the cause seems to be guilt at violating some tapu; the illness disappears when the Pakeha suggests that they should move south.
The Maori as a Symbolic Character
The temptation of modern writers is to find in the Maori the virtues that are missing in the Pakeha and to use him as a criticism of Pakeha society. It is interesting that though there is something of this in Grace, it first appeared seriously in Katherine Mansfield, in that part of her Journal written in 1908 when she was sent on a caravan tour of the King Country and Rotorua before she left again for England. The attitude, in spite of her “visions of long dead Maoris, of forgotten battles and vanished feuds”, is a real recognition of an unappreciated quality that the romances had conjured away as an old nobility remaining from a simpler and heroic society. Katherine Mansfield writes:
There is one fellow . . . who speaks English. Black curls clustering round his head band, rest, almost languor in his black eyes: a slouching walk, and yet there slumbers in his face passionate unrest and strength.- 223 And again:
Here, too, I meet Prodgers. It is splendid to see once again real English people. I am so sick and tired of the third-rate article. Give me the Maori and the tourist, but nothing between.
At this place where the Maoris talked English as well as Maori and dressed in Pakeha fashion she “found nothing of interest”, it “proved utterly disappointing after Umuroa, which was fascinating in the extreme”. 42
And in her story, “How Pearl Button was Kidnapped” (1910), 43 Pearl Button, a little girl who lives in a suburb of “houses of boxes” in a row, from which men go daily to offices, is led away by some Maori women who shower her with affection and make her feel shy and happier than she has ever been. They eventually persuade her to paddle in the warm (and symbolic) sea which had frightened her. But her journey to Utopia is interrupted when “little men in blue coats” come blowing whistles to take her back to the box-like houses. It is interesting that in this story the Maoris are not called Maoris, and they speak good English: so that the reader approaches them with no preconceived attitudes.
And the contrast between Maori courtesy and Pakeha “civilisation” is expressed in Mr. Sargeson's story, “White Man's Burden” (1936). 44
We should remember that the Maori's tradition is one of communal living and co-operation: he is thrown into a competitive Pakeha world with an economic system foreign to his traditions, in which the emphasis is on the individual acquisition of money and property. The adjustment is difficult for him, and it is not for us to lecture him. The most we can do is understand and help where help is needed and desired. But even there, we have to remember that we are dealing with people who have their own thoughts and sentiments. Understanding the Maori mind can be just as fruitless as refusal to understand: ask ourselves, none of us would feel easy if we were being observed and questioned by someone humourlessly determined to understand us. There are dangers in the Pakeha writer, with his different traditions, trying to see a Maori from the Maori point of view. He is apt to create a puppet figure of his own, covering his own frustrated aspirations in a brown skin, like a hermit crab.
Mr. Sargeson in his short novel, I Saw in My Dream (1949), uses the Maori as a symbol of the uncorrupted simple life as opposed to the more callous, selfish and inhibited life of the Pakeha. Roderick Finlayson in his stories of Maori life of about twenty years ago (when the population was less than two-thirds of what it is now) announces his purpose in the preface to Brown Man's Burden (1938): notice that is not Baucke's ‘white man's burden’, it is the brown man who is carrying the burden.- 224
It may be asked why I have written almost solely of the Maori people in these stories of New Zealand life . . . Only among that remnant of the Maori race does one find such unconventional humanity so immoderately generous, so quietly courteous with such a cheerful neglect—often to the point of squalor—of material surroundings, and such a fine disdain for those banes of the European world—time and money. For, in spite of the destruction of Maori culture by the European, and the gradual invasion of Maori life by modern materialism, the Maori still retains much of the poetic life of his forefathers. By ‘poetic,’ one doesn't mean a sentimental enthusing about flowers and moonlight, but rather a life dependent on the forces and powers of Nature—a life governed by poetic justice (which in the end is God's justice) rather than by convention and mere formal justice, which can be no more than man's substitute.
Now this poetic quality is wanting among the European inhabitants, who lack a true right to the land they live in, having, as yet, no deep love of its familiar and unprofitable aspects, nor intimate understanding of its nature as the Maori had, but only a kind of curious patronage of its “scenery” like any other alien tourist. The machine age and modern education have at once removed the means and killed the desire for identity with the soil, which is the pride and birthright of the native.
For my part, I prefer to write of those, left almost landless by the European, who are still more truly of the land than we who have dispossessed them. Others have written romantically of the old-time Maori culture. These stories deal chiefly with the annihilation of that culture by our scientific barbarism, and the something, pathetic or humorous, that yet remains.
Mr. Finlayson is turning his back on Pakeha society because it is cold and callous and convention-ridden, nagged by the clock and obsessed with money and property. And his Maoris embody the antithesis of all these evils, and little else. 45 They are pathetic and humorous, and their lives are “dependent on the forces and powers of Nature”, which means that they are governed by impulse and instinct and are frequently the victims of their own passions. Their passions are simple: love, hate, jealousy, revenge; and because they are simple, Mr. Finlayson can only solve their problems by simple expedients. In the twelve stories in Brown Man's Burden, two stories end with suicide, there are two murders, one death by makutu and a sudden fatal motor accident, and one story ends with an old man getting his revenge by setting fire to his brother's whare. Mr. Finlayson finds pathetic humour in Maori Christianity, when Wi gets the gospel 46; when Henare, the man of good religion who does not believe in divorce, re-marries twice, on both occasions when the earlier marriage breaks up, and so becomes a trigamist. 47 He is sceptical and amused at Maori efforts to forget old tribal jealousies. He finds such virtue in the carefree life of the village that he appears to be pleased when the slump forces Peta out of his - 225 Government clerical job in the city and makes him come home to work at flax-cutting. 48 In another story a Pakeha is made a little more human by a brief acquaintance with the Maori. 49
Mr. Finlayson does not often try to enter the minds of his Maori characters, and when he does he is not convincing: their thoughts seem to be too trite and simple. He is at his best when he is observing and describing, especially scenes that involve a crowd, as in “The Totara Tree”, 50 or in “Sweet Beulah Land”, where a hapu is celebrating the sale of some land to the Government on the Government's terms, celebrating but knowing that it has been tricked, 51 or as in “The Everlasting Miracle”, when a young prophet announces that he will walk the waters, and some swear that he did. 52
In “The Totara Tree”46 a Power Board inspector wants to cut down a totara which is the birth-tree of an old woman Taranga. She climbs the tree and refuses to move. 53 Below her old Uncle Tuna and Panapa, who is presumably of middle age, and younger Taikehu watch with other villagers: the younger ones get excited, dance a haka and inadvertently set fire to the scrub. When they rescue Taranga from the fire they find she has been dead for some time. The villagers bury her under the tree, so that in the end the Power Board has to leave it standing and carry the power lines clear of it.
“The Totara Tree” is successful because Mr. Finlayson is describing without comment, and because he catches the tensions within this Maori community, tensions caused by different ways of adjustment to the European occupation. Uncle Tuna is of the oldest generation, as is Taranga herself; he fully believes in tapu; he is angry at the younger generation because of their mad excitement and he tells them that they have been corrupted by Pakeha ways. The younger ones do not pay much heed to Uncle Tuna now; they are caught between two worlds and they express the conflict in humour. Panapa at first sides with the more powerful: the Pakeha's 10,000 volts will make Taranga spring out of the tree; the police will drag her down. But all the same he'll laugh to see her claws on the policeman. The children too rejoice to anticipate the fun. They caress the inspector's car, symbol of his power. The soldiers will come with machine-guns and go r-r-r but Taranga will just swallow the bullets. She is a witch all right, but all the same they don't believe that old witch stuff. But when the inspector threatens them the Maoris become serious. Taikehu, who is Taranga's grandson, has no awe for Taranga but he respects the tapu of her birth-tree.
They express their communal excitement in a haka, but it is a half-humorous one. Later the haka becomes mad and excited and Uncle - 226 Tuna, knowing that this haka is a mockery of an old tradition, watches the fire they have started and sneers at this senseless generation of Maoris working their own destruction. Panapa's last comment sides with the winner of the struggle; the Pakeha may have had 10,000 volts and a police force, but Taranga had cost them thousands and thousands of pounds. He is making his judgement in Pakeha terms.
It is Mr. Finlayson's natural sympathy for the Maori that gives his stories their virtue; so long as he is sympathetically observing, he is at his best. But we should realise that “The Totara Tree” is not only concerned with the conflict between Maori values and Pakeha values: it is also a declaration against what we usually call progress. Mr. Finlayson does not only want the Auckland Electric Power Board to respect Taranga's tree; he does not want any power-lines at all. He does not ask whether the Maori objection is to offending tapu or to electricity. Yet Te Whiti laid on electricity eighty years ago at Parihaka, and right now I doubt if the people of the East Coast would object to power-lines.
In an essay published two years after Brown Man's Burden, Our Life in this Land (1940), Mr. Finlayson laments the disappearance of the virtues of the pioneering period of New Zealand, what he calls “free and natural qualities, strength of character, and healthy manhood”. Following the New Zealand poet D'Arcy Cresswell, he sees science as sorcery and he deplores centralisation of government, the development of telegraph and railways, and all planning of society. So far as he offers any remedy, it is to return to a simple peasant agriculture under provincial governments, with horses and no tractors, growing what we need and exporting nothing. It is a romantic anarchism and Mr. Finlayson may have outgrown it; but these ideas were in his mind when he wrote “The Totara Tree”.
And, I think, that would be, from the point of view of the Maori people, the weakness of his attitude: that when he praises their “cheerful neglect of material surroundings” he is making squalor seem charming. He is persuading us that that one-eighth of Maori houses, the huts and baches and whares, are all right; they like to live like that; good housing would spoil them. 54 He does not like them coming to the city. He is amused at their efforts to help themselves, and the more they try to adjust themselves to the fact of the Pakeha culture, the less he likes it. There is something in common between his attitude and Grace's.
Mr. Finlayson, however, has written with more recognition of the complexity of the problem in later stories in Sweet Beulah Land (1942), showing the degradation of Maoris working for Chinese market gardeners near the Manukau, and in a recent story “A Little Gift for Harry” (1952), in which a near-Pakeha's threat to disrupt a Maori - 227 community is foiled. In his short novel Tidal Creek (1948), he turns mainly to Pakeha characters, as he does again in The Schooner Came to Atia (1953), a novel of a Pacific island, presumably in the Cook group. Recently he has written some very good Primary School Bulletins on the pre-European Maori.
In “The Totara Tree” it is not always clear whether the characters are speaking in English or translated Maori: one would expect Uncle Tuna to use his own language. In other modern stories the Maoris speak in their own English. This is a difficult thing for a writer to reproduce, unless he has a good ear. It is too easy to slip into a preconceived illiterate English, full of “py korrys” and “e hoa”. And the Maori use of English is changing all the time.
Maori English has always presented a problem to the Pakeha writer, though it is increasingly less likely to. Baucke solved the problem by having his character in “A Quaint Friendship” 55 speak Maori and translating it into a sort of imitation Biblical English, which is nevertheless dignified and stands out against the stale poetry with which his own pretentious journalese is scented. Grace's Hone Tiki, Fussell's Henare Tikitanu and Lawlor's Horis all speak a pidgin English, which no doubt had some of its origin in actuality but had the unfortunate effect of reinforcing the impression that they were half-wits. Dick Harris in a preface to Lawlor's Maori Tales makes an apology that only half meets the objection:
Accurately to reproduce the phonetics of unlettered Hori endeavouring to express himself in English would be of no value save, perhaps, to the philologist, and would be a confusion to the many. How incomprehensible to the general reader such conscientious rendering would be is indicated by that distinguished authority on all matters pertaining to the Maori, Mr. Elsdon Best. Mr. Best, asked to give, as nearly as our alphabet will permit, the actual sounds that would be uttered by Hori in making such a simple statement as: “I killed a sheep last night if you want to have it”, gives this as his phonetic rendering: “Ai kiri hipi rahe naiti e whiu ana hawhe”. 56
I will quote one successful attempt to record a more modern Maori English. It is by Magdalene Giles in a story which appeared in a Canterbury students' publication in 1947. 57 A fourteen-year-old Maori girl is talking about school:
Then one of the girls scream! Rick's after her, cause he finish his fight. He run slow, long, slow steps, cause he's very big—he's six feet two now, and he's only sixteen yet. There he's running after this girl, I know he won't stop, never stop, till he caught her, give her a real good hiding. So I sing out to Edna and Fanny and Annie Riwhi, we go after him. We soon catch him, manhandle him good oh, then we let him go, tell him that's what he get when he bully the girls. He clear off home up the hill.- 228
A. P. Gaskell is also successful in reproducing Maori idiom in “The Picture in the Paper”, 58 though one should realise that Sammy, the Maori who is speaking in this case, is also unintelligent:
Then one day it rain pretty hard. Plenty more rain next day too, so the flood in the river, eh? Muddy too and the water pretty swift. After school young Tuki he take his horse over the ford. All the kids say, ‘Don't you go over that ford Tuki’. And he say: ‘Too right I go over the ford’. They tell him to go over the swingbridge and leave his horse behind for tomorrow. So me and Miss in school doing sums and all the kids run in and yell, ‘Tuki gone over the ford’.
This is a story of a Maori who, pleased that his picture was in the paper when he rescued the teacher from a flooded river, is just as pleased when his picture is in Truth after he has converted a car and smashed it. It is not much more than a more subtle picture of the comic ill-adapted Maori, and it would seem to be, for the writer, mainly an exercise in using Maori English.
SOME MODERN STORIES
Mr. Gaskell has, however, written one of the best stories to do with Maoris, “School Picnic” (1947). 59 It gains strength because the writer makes no attempt to see things from the point of view of the Maori characters, but sees things completely through the mind of a Pakeha schoolteacher, though it is plain that his sympathies are not with her. In this story Miss Brown, a teacher relieving at a sole-charge King Country school, reluctantly gives up a Saturday to attend a school picnic organised by the parents. She is the first to arrive. She is disgusted with the food, the old women, the parents and the children. It comes on to rain and they are all crowded in the school-house singing and doing action songs. At last she can stand it no longer and accepting a coat they offer her, heads off in the rain along the four-mile bike-track to the stationmaster's where she boards.
The contrast between the outlook of Miss Brown and that of the Maoris could not be sharper, and the irony of the story is that it is the Maoris who are more civilised than she. She is, as Miss Sturm calls her, a “sophisticated but uncivilised city bitch”. She is concerned with her clothes and her appearance; her ideal is Joan Crawford looking wizard over a cocktail; no tactic is too dirty for her when she wants George (back in town) and Vonnie threatens to cut her out. She is contemptuous of the elderly, and she cannot talk to the old women. She judges the Maoris by her own mean standards: if the men are laughing, she suspects that they are telling dirty yarns. She isn't interested in babies, though she is prepared to have one to make George marry. She won't object if the whole Maori race perishes; and she'd feel much safer if they acted like the comic Maori of the illustrated papers. Selfish and sophisticated pleasure is her ambition: pictures, launch-trips and bathing, cocktails, boyfriends, all as symbols of what she calls - 229 the civilised life. Her values have been created by Hollywood, Vogue magazine, popular songs and the advertisements.
At first reading, she makes you angry; but at second, she comes through as a comic figure. The irony of the story is that the Maoris are enjoying themselves and she isn't, that it is she who retreats, biking off through the rain to get away from what she calls a pack of bloody savages. It is the Maori scale of values that emerges as the stronger.
Mr. Te Hau explained to me that in any situation a Maori is confronted with two codes of values, two courses of action, Maori and Pakeha; and that which one he chooses depends on the time, the place and the circumstances. Mr. Gaskell seems to understand this, because the two codes are there: the men organising the races and going out into the bushes for some beer, the women insisting on providing Miss Brown's dinner but, instead of the traditional Maori food, giving her a pie in place of her own dainty lunch. You can see the double code in the words of Terari, the first of the parents to arrive. He opens with a welcoming remark that could be applicable to Maori or Pakeha company:
So Terari switches to her point of view:
Of course, he may be pulling her leg, but he is anticipating all her objections, too. Terari has made such a gracious concession: what could Miss Brown say to that?
But then he's back to the Maori point of view.
It may be that he thought that was a woman's job; or it may be that he simply looked on her as one of the working party at the picnic.
And, always resourceful, adaptable, not to be perturbed by mishaps like this, Terari says, “Nemind”.
And you can see the two codes operating in the climax of the story, when Terari is posturing an action song in front of her and she slaps his face. Both the audience and Terari are speechless. Had it been a Maori who had insulted him, Terari might have taken offence, but here they solve the tension in laughter, and Terari clowns his way out of it. A lot of Maori jocularity comes from having to live in two worlds at once. And as Douglas Stewart says in his story, 60 “understanding is easier than anger”. They were turning on a picnic for the kids, and bad feeling would have spoilt the day.- 230
But again, the Maoris in this story, for all the accurate observation of detail, are stereotypes: they represent hospitality, generosity, unhurriedness, enjoyment of life, and a communal spirit. They are not so simple as Mr. Finlayson's Maoris, but they are still simple. Within the limits of the story, however, you could hardly ask for a complex picture of the Maori. And I don't think it fair to ask, as Miss Sturm did, are they always as happy as this, on the days when there are no picnics? have they no anxieties and problems?—because this story is concerned with the picnic, not with days when there are no picnics, and mainly with Miss Brown the teacher, not with the Maoris.
Douglas Stewart's “The Whare” goes deeper and recognises a complexity in the minds of his Maoris. This is the only Maori story in his collection, A Girl with Red Hair, published in Sydney in 1944. It concerns a young man trudging the roads in the depression of the thirties, who drifts into a Maori settlement near the Kaipara Harbour. He is offered permanent hospitality with an old couple who live in a flea-infested whare, who talk vaguely of him perhaps marrying a Maori girl, of working together on contract cutting rushes, of some day pouring boiling water on the fleas. He becomes panicky at the prospect of endlessly living with people whose thoughts he cannot share, and slips away in the night, leaving a note of apology. His story is of Maoris who have not had much contact with the Pakeha; like Mr. Finlayson, he can still refer to them as natives. He doesn't romanticise or sentimentalise over the Maori way of life: he acknowledges the fleas, which Mr. Finlayson would have thought unimportant. He neither approves nor disapproves of the man who has been college-educated returning to his village. He is aware that another generation might break the tradition of unquestioning hospitality. He is honestly enough rooted in Pakeha prejudice, when he notices that the old man's features were almost European, to say that he had “the stamp of aristocracy” in his features. He is dismally conscious of the lack of common ground on which he and his hosts can meet; and there is among the three of them only the “primitive human sympathy”, “that deep mindless sympathy”, the “dark tide of physical sympathy” touched with a vague sadness, while the rain drums on the iron roof.
It obviously isn't the fleas that drive him away, or the possibility of falling in love with a Maori girl. It is the fear of being trapped by their hospitality, of becoming a Pakeha Maori living with them but not belonging. It is this that puts him in a state of “queer urgency, almost panic”. It would be for him a retreat from his own culture to have to sit and rely on that physical sympathy and not understand the complexity of their thoughts, as they would not understand his. And so he sneaks off in the night, feeling guilty.
This is a sensitive story because it touches a sensitive point of race relations; only it asks no questions, it goes no further. And again it is the Pakeha who is retreating. Was he justified, or was the challenge too much for him of having to attempt to bridge a gulf, to understand another conception of life, to adjust himself to another culture and outlook? I don't know. But it is worth thinking about. We couldn't expect - 231 him to give up his own culture completely. But there are many Pakehas who expect the Maori to do that.
In contrast to Mr. Stewart's story there is James Forsyth's, “The Roofs of Dargaville” (1947), that expresses the ignorant fear of the well-suited Pakeha: a commercial traveller in Dargaville is lured to visit the bach of some young Maoris who then try to overpower him and rob him. I don't believe it happened: it is more likely what the writer thought would happen if he did dare to associate with Maoris.
A very recent development has been stories which treat not of Maori villages but of brief chance meetings with Maoris by writers who, because they distrust sentimental preconceptions of the Maoris, simply observe and record with a sympathetic detachment, not cold, but not warm either, nor very informed. O. E. Middleton's “Discrepancies” (1951) 61 observes the discrepancies caused by the double set of values mentioned by Mr. Te Hau, and his “A Day by Itself” (1952) 62 seems to carry a faint regret that the two Maoris he meets are engrossed in an old motor-bike and lack his own preference for an unhurried, unmechanical life. In “It Happens Here” (1951), however, he is warm with anger at finding a hotel bar that refuses to serve Maoris. 63 Maurice Duggan's “Chapter” (1955) 64 observes with detached accuracy the conduct and attitudes of some Maori youths off to a dance somewhere in Northland, singing phoney South Sea Island songs, not knowing their own language or traditions. There is the novel of Sylvia Ashton-Warner, Spinster (1958), and a few stories, 65 expressing a teacher's bewildered admiration for the hectic energy of “the new race” as she calls her Maori and part-Maori schoolchildren. The one advantage of this approach is that it avoids the presentation of ready-made types.
Increasingly, as more young Maoris move to or grow up in the cities, as more young North Island Maoris move to the South Island as tradesmen, apprentices, and other workers, one must expect to find that younger writers write of Maori characters not as members of a Maori community, as Mr. Finlayson, Mr. Gaskell and Mr. Stewart have done, but as individuals they have known or worked with.
Sometimes such characters as they appear in some recent stories seem little more than brown Pakehas with easier consciences and friendlier faces; a sort of young man's ideal of the decent joker. Certainly there is little appreciation that their background is very different, and none at all of tribal affiliation: these writers not only do not know, but do not think it matters, whether their characters are Ngapuhi or Ngati-Porou. At times the writers are regretful that the Maori character does not share a Pakeha character's concern for something, that the image they have seen is in fact an imperfect reflection. Thus Brian Fox in “Talk to Them” (1957) writes as a trade unionist - 232 who, though he likes Maoris, is concerned at Maori labourers who provide scab labour during industrial disputes: he solves the problem by inventing one union-conscious Maori worker who, though he has been sacked from his work for assaulting a unionist who had been baiting some young Maoris fresh from the country, goes to the Community Centre and talks all night to them and wins their support for the “go-slow” on the job from which he has been sacked. Mr. Fox, like the vicar of Waiuku before him, has solved a problem by creating a Maori after his own desire. 66 A more convincing story by a Pakeha who calls himself “Ngawha” 67 is of a worker who is pained to hear his young Maori friend echo his foreman in expressions of anti-Semitism and resolves to tell him that he himself is a Jew from East London. Maurice Shadbolt's Mick in “The Funniest Thing” (1957) cannot awaken any response in his fellow scrub-cutter Rangi to his garrulous speculations on life, death and the extent of the universe. In David Anderson's story “The Stuff of Life” (1958) the Pakeha corporal is disappointed that the Maori lance-corporal will not help him in trying to prevent a cruel mob-attack by other soldiers on a soldier who is imbecile and doesn't wash: the implication seems to be that Pukaki the lance-corporal (who is little more than the stereotype of a cheerful, loyal fellow with an outsize penis) understands, as the corporal does not, that life involves cruelty.
The stories that I think are most successful in their treatment of Maori characters are two by Magdalene Giles and one by Maurice Shadbolt. In “School” (1947) 68 Miss Giles gives a warm and realistic account of life among the pupils of a Maori school; it is amusing, and in a human way. In “Old Sam” (1947) 69 she creates a sympathetic and dignified old man living away from his hapu with his daughter; though he has refused to return home, where there is no peace for him, his sons are coming to take him, but he dies on the morning they arrive. Both these stories are imbued with experience and understanding of Maoris, and a spontaneous sympathy otherwise only found in Grace and Mr. Finlayson.
In Maurice Shadbolt's “End of Season” (1956), a young Maori footballer, who works on his father's farm, who has two close Pakeha friends (but apparently, apart from his girl-friend, no close Maori friends of his own age), is killed at football. There is the tangi and burial and the story is concerned with the effect of Sammy Kahu's death on those who loved him. What I think is distinctive in this story's treatment of a Maori is the successful blending of an appreciation of Sammy as an individual and not a stereotype, with some knowledge and understanding of a different culture. It is, I suppose, not a spectacular achievement, and as an ideal for the Pakeha writer, it is a - 233 modest one. Yet that is probably, as yet, all the Pakeha writer can fairly do, observe with sympathy, be accurate in his observations, try to understand and be honest in his conclusions. As Miss Sturm puts it, if he uses Maoris as symbols, they must be true and significant symbols. But I think he is on dangerous ground if he uses them as symbols at all. 70
STORIES BY MAORIS
For an expression of an authentic Maori outlook we must look to Maori writers. The quarterly Te Ao Hou has recently published a number of such stories, and this opens the possibility of Maoris being attracted to fiction as a form of expression.
One of these stories, “For All the Saints” by J. C. Sturm (1955), is written in English and is a sympathetic character-study in the European tradition, of a hospital cook who is a bit odd and is finally committed. Of two that won prizes in 1956, one by Hirone Wikiriwhi is written first in Maori and is a warm account in the traditional style, with references to traditions and old poetry, of the royal visit to Waitangi, Turangawaewae and Rotorua. 71 The other by Mason Durie is in English and is a moral tale warning Maori students against loafing when there's swot to be done. 72 By European standards it is a tract rather than a story, but we must remember that a Maori writer at the present time probably feels that he must serve and help his people with his pen and that the standards we apply to the short story might seem to him to be dilettante and unfruitful. It is perhaps indicative of the current attitudes of older educated Maoris that prizes should have been awarded to moralistic stories. Another prize-winner, in 1957, by S. M. Mead 73 tries to deal with the problem of young Maoris who come to the city and take to crime: instead of arresting a lad running from a burglary, a constable, too good to be probable, lets him off, helps to put him on the right path and for that occasion fulfils the role of kaumatua.
Far more promising (by European literary standards) are those stories that express the Maori attitudes to life which have escaped the Pakeha writer. They are written in English. In two autobiographical stories, Rora Paki reminisces on experiences which would be unfamiliar to the Pakeha 74: being brought up by two grandparents, two aunts and - 234 an uncle; the atmosphere of loving comradeship in a hapu; children feeling free to wander from home to home since all the old women were grannies one way or another; a girl marrying a cousin not because either of them wanted to but because the parents of both wanted it, and settling down, nevertheless, to a happy married life; trying to keep the house big enough for a family that increased almost every year. Four stories by Rowley Habib are moving and evocative, written in the European tradition of the short story: of a young boy's hope that when he is as old as his brother he too will be as attractive to the girls; 75 of a fatal accident at a sawmill; 76 of citified relations who are prepared to sell their dead brother's farm over the heads of his children; 77 and one of the burial of a boy's father. 78 The stories are not only very good in their own right; they express experiences whose full meaning is otherwise inaccessible to the Pakeha. One cannot imagine in a Pakeha community the bereft boy finding comfort away from his mother:
Then Willy Hagg began to shovel the earth back into the grave and as the first lot hit the coffin, it echoed hollowly and loudly, and their mother lurched forward with a small cry, her eyes wide and frightening. The two women held her and she almost fell. And Pane spoke to her sharply.
At the sight of his mother Kurram felt a sudden horrible shock run through him. And in desperate bewilderment he turned about looking for somewhere to go. Then he felt someone quite close beside him and he looked up. His cousin Paul stood over him and he said to the boy,
“Never mind Cur you hold on to me.”
He put his arms around the boy and the boy put his face against his cousin's shirt and began to cry. Paul stood for a while letting the boy cry then he began to squeeze his shoulders and say,
“Never mind, Cur. It's all over now. Don't cry now.”Again there is, running through this passage, a sense of belonging:
By the apple trees a group of women were busying themselves with their shawls. Two of them were lifting their babies onto their backs, and they bounced them around a little to settle them more comfortably in the blankets. Down by the Hepis' fence the priest was talking with old Doc and Tita. He was gesturing slowly with his hands and now and then he would look off across the paddock at the sun. Every one was talking about the beautiful day, everything except the burial.
A Pakeha writer describing the same situation might have been arrested by aspects of the scene unfamiliar to him and have sought a metaphor for the women with the babies in their shawls, an image that would make them memorable and fix them, like a tourist's camera, for all time, and in such a way that no deeper meaning could be penetrated.- 235
At the present time a Maori writer is more likely to prefer English as his medium, yet he is likely to come up against the problem of reaching an audience: conscious of speaking for his people, he may find that he is speaking to only a few of them. This is a problem that the Maori writer will have to deal with himself.
At the same time, if Pakehas want to appreciate the authentic expression of Maori values, they must make an effort of understanding in relation to Maori culture, so that the Maori writer can write for a Pakeha audience as well as a Maori audience without having to adopt a different set of values. And when this effort has been made, and the Maori writer is sure of a wide and sympathetic audience, then we may expect some writing that may well have qualities that Pakeha writing lacks.
1 As a Pakeha I felt it necessary to seek the opinions of three Maoris on the stories from which this study took its start, i.e. those reprinted in the Oxford anthology, Davin 1953. To these three people, Miss J. C. Sturm, Mr. Matiu Te Hau and Mr. Hirone Wikiriwhi I acknowledge my indebtedness.
2 A recent survey of contemporary attitudes can be found in Ausubel 1958.
3 Sorrenson 1956.
4 I am indebted to Dr. Sinclair for permission to quote this and a later passage from his A History of New Zealand, to be published by Penguin Books Ltd. in 1959.
5 Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives 1906:H-31, p. 67.
6 See Note 4. Dr. Sinclair discusses these attitudes at greater length in the first chapter of his Origins of the Maori Wars, Sinclair 1957.
7 Mr. Curnow also has kindly permitted me to use this observation from his Introduction to his Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse, to be published by Penguin Books Ltd. in 1959. The passages quoted are from Domett 1872:88, 94, and New Zealand Parliamentary Debates 1860:213. Dr. Sinclair comments in his biographical note on Domett in Mr. Curnow's anthology: “Despite the rosy passages in Ranolf and Amohia . . . his attitude to the Maoris was that of a Nelson settler who remembered the ‘Wairau massacre’. He was a leading advocate of force as a civilising agent.”
8 Baughan 1912: “Pipi on the Prowl”, “A Grandmother Speaks”.
9 References which are not footnoted can easily be found in the list of References at the end.
10 Grace 1901:90.
11 Grace 1901: “Told in the Puia” and “Why Castlelard Took to the Blanket”. “Told in the Puia” was first published in The Bulletin, Sydney.
12 Grace 1895: “Hira”.
13 Grace 1901: “Te Wiria's Potatoes”, reprinted in Davin 1953. First published in The Bulletin, Sydney.
14 Grace 1901: “Pirihira”. First published in The Bulletin, Sydney.
15 Baucke 1905, reprinted in Davin 1953. Why the friendship was quaint I cannot imagine.
16 Monthly Abstract of Statistics, 30 September 1958:13.
17 New Zealand Official Yearbook 1957.
18 The 1957 figures are from the New Zealand Official Yearbook 1958. In the table showing the age distribution of population, Maori and European figures are merged, for the first time.
19 New Zealand Population Census 1951 VIII:63, 65. The statistics show 3.36% Maoris earning £700 or more in a year, against 18.6% Pakeha; 12.06% Maoris living in huts, whares and baches, against 2.08% Pakeha.
20 Gillespie 1930. There are 32 stories in all. The hostile one is “Maori Mac's”.
21 Grace 1895: “The Chief's Daughter”, “Reta the Urukehu”.
22 Hyde 1930: “A Ceiling of Amber”; 1938: “The Little Bridge”.
23 Weston 1890:365.
24 It is often she who dies.
25 It is probable that there were in fact no liaisons between Maori men and white women well-bred enough to qualify as models for fiction. Grace's Hone Tiki thought so and had his explanation: the Pakeha woman did not attract the Maori man since she was thin, ugly, too talkative and unsubmissive, whereas the Pakeha man preferred the Maori woman because she was plump, quiet, kind and submissive.
26 Lancaster 1938.
27 Some of these are described and others listed in Smith 1939 and Gries 1951 a and b.
28 Gries 1951b:237.
29 Lawlor 1927:121.
30 Fussell 1917.
31 Some account of this is given in Cody 1953: chapter 9.
32 Fussell 1917:11, 26, 28.
33 Reprinted in Lawson 1900a, 1900b, 1901, 1905, 1935, 1937, 1940, 1948, 1956, 1957.
34 School inspectors' reports 1886 to 1904 give the impression of a small, untypical Maori community, abandoning their language, depleted by deaths and migration, with very few children and apparently (till 1899) even fewer babies. However, by 1895, about 16 months before Lawson arrived, a process of recovery had clearly set in, as inspectors of 1895 and 1899 note. Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives 1887-1905:E-2.
35 Lawson 1948:283-4, 285.
36 Colin Roderick 1950:37 gives the name of the village as Maungamanunu. In an essay, Roderick 1957, published after his visit to New Zealand last year, he corrects it.
I quote in full Dr. Roderick's remarks about this story, which blandly suggest impressions which frankly I find incompatible with a reading of the story, Roderick 1957:26:
But his major work at this time was in prose, and one of the most intimate sketches of this period is “A Daughter of Maoriland”, first published in 1897 in the Christmas number of the Antipodean, No. 3, edited by A. B. Paterson and George Essex Evans. It begins, as you recall:
The new native-school teacher, who was ‘green’, ‘soft’, and poetical, and had a literary ambition, called her ‘August’, and fondly hoped to build a romance on her character.
This opening sentence reminds us of Tom Mills' remark: “Henry wrote me that he was inspired to write the book of his life. He would immortalise the South Island Maori in this magnum opus.”
But of that big work all that finally came was two chapters, so written as to be published separately as two sketches. One of them was “A Daughter of Maoriland”.
If it is objected that I am blaming Lawson for what Dr. Roderick, without offering more evidence than a report of Lawson's first intention, says was only the first chapter of a novel, I reply that Lawson was content to publish it, within no more than a few months of writing, as a self-contained work, and further that it reads like a self-contained work. The second of the sketches does not appear to have been published. It would seem that Lawson's inspiration to immortalise the South Island Maori is like his teacher's desire to find material for a romantic novel in the character of his pupil, and that, like the teacher, he was disillusioned. If this is so, perhaps his story can be dismissed as sour grapes.
37 “Maori Mac” 1930: “Harry Kingi's Broken Vow”, and von Keisenberg 1938: “Within Sight of Kapiti”.
38 “Maori Mac” 1930: “Harry Kingi's Broken Vow”.
39 Reprinted in Davin 1953.
40 Player-Green 1938.
41 Cork 1938.
42 The four preceding quotations are, in order, from Mansfield 1954:24, 30, 29, 29.
43 Mansfield 1924 and 1945.
44 In Sargeson 1936. Reprinted Sargeson 1940 and Sargeson 1946.
45 To quote Miss Sturm: ‘The inhabitants of Utopia always possess the qualities we admire but lack ourselves.”
46 Finlayson 1938: “Wi Gets the Gospel”.
47 Finlayson 1938: “A Man of Good Religion”.
48 Finlayson 1938: “On Top of the Hill”.
49 Finlayson 1938: “Standards of Living”.
50 Finlayson 1938. Reprinted in Davin 1953 and in Murray-Smith 1953.
51 Finlayson 1942. Reprinted in Finlayson 1944.
52 Finlayson 1945.
53 Mr. Te Hau tells me that the story may be based on a real incident in the King Country when an old woman who allowed a milling company to lay a loco-track through her land claimed a higher royalty than she was given and lay for three days across the tracks to prevent the loco passing.
54 At the time of which Mr. Finlayson was writing, the proportion of Maori dwellings which were huts, whares and baches (defined as consisting of one or two rooms) was about a third (33.9%); and if one adds temporary dwellings, the proportion was 45%, New Zealand Population Census, 1936, III:vi, 36. The corresponding figures for Pakeha dwellings were 4.3% and 5.1%, New Zealand Population Census, 1936, XIII:1.
55 Baucke 1905.
56 Lawlor 1927:9. Some of the letters against the right-hand margin of this page are not clear. I have rendered as whiu what looks like (? a printer's error) whiri or whin.
57 Giles 1947b: “School”.
58 Gaskell 1943. Reprinted in Gaskell 1947.
59 Reprinted in Davin 1953.
60 Stewart 1944: “The Whare”. Reprinted in Davin 1953.
61 Middleton 1951b.
62 Reprinted in Middleton 1953.
63 Middleton 1951a.
64 Reprinted in Duggan 1956.
65 Ashton-Warner 1955, 1956a, 1956b.
66 I do not suggest that there are not, or cannot be, Maori workers as loyal to union principles as other workers. My objection is that it is unlikely that a man sacked from his job will show so much interest in militating for better conditions on that job.
67 “Ngawha” 1957: “Morning Lift”.
68 Giles 1947b.
69 Giles 1947a.
70 I have not mentioned Bruce Mason's play The Pohutukawa Tree, performed in 1957 by the New Zealand Players' Workshop in Wellington and Auckland, because it is itself, like this essay, an exploration of Pakeha attitudes to the Maori. The only comment I would like to make here on Aroha, the memorable mother whose family is ruined by contact with Pakehas and difficulties of adjustment to modern stresses, is that she is untypical in two respects: in her feudal relationship to her Pakeha farmer neighbours and in the fact that she has cut herself off from her people and draws her strength solely from a stern Evangelical type of religion. To the extent that she is meant as a symbol she is not a true symbol. Nevertheless the play is sympathetic to the Maori and should make the Pakeha think.
71 Wikiriwhi 1956: “He Korero Hararei” (“A Holiday Story”).
72 Durie 1956: “I Failed the Test of Life”.
73 Mead 1957: “Constable McFarland”.
74 Paki 1956: “Ka Pu Te Ruha Ka Hao Te Rangatahi (The Old Net is Cast Aside, A New Net Goes Afishing)”, in English; 1957: “A Home is Made”.
75 Habib 1957b: “Love in the Mill”.
76 Habib 1956: “Death in the Mill”.
77 Habib 1957c: “The Visitors”.
78 Habib 1957a: “The Burial”.
79 This edition is definitive and is fuller than that of 1927, which does not contain the entries to which I refer.