Volume 69 1960 > Volume 69, No. 2 > Maharaia Winiata, by Matiu Te Hau, p 72-75
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I haere koha kore ko te hoa, kaore i muna iho.
The friend left without a guiding word, without a speech of farewell.
MAHARAIA WINIATA had the blood of chiefs. On his father's side he was descended from Tamatea of the Takitimu canoe and on his maternal side from the Arawa canoe through Rangitihi.
He was born at Ngahina Pa, Ruatoki, on the 29th September, 1912. His early schooling at Otumoetae and Maungatapu primary schools was followed by secondary education at the Tauranga District High School where he became head prefect and senior athletic champion. He gained the Public Service Entrance Examination in 1930 and matriculated the following year. The money he received as school reporter for the local newspaper was just sufficient to pay his matriculation examination fees. Although he was awarded a scholarship to go to University, the depression had forced him, as it did many others, to take up any kind of work that was offering and he remained unaware of the award he had gained. For the next four years he did farm work, draining and fencing, and engaged himself in Mission work among the Maori people for the Methodist Maori Mission. He enrolled at Auckland University College in 1935 and went to Trinity Methodist College from 1937 to 1939 where he was vice-senior student and librarian. He was ordained minister and was called to the Kawhia Methodist Church where he served two years. In 1940 he married Frances Clegg.
At the Auckland Teachers' Training College from 1942 to 1943, he became the President of the Students' Association in his last year. A - 74 period of primary school teaching followed in Maori schools in the Bay of Plenty and he took up secondary school teaching at Wesley College, Paerata, in 1946 and ultimately became senior assistant and actingprincipal. Meanwhile he graduated B.A. in 1943, M.A. in 1945, and gained a Dip. Ed. in 1946.
It was during this period that Maharaia Winiata became acquainted with the needs of his people and the many and varied difficulties that beset them. He believed that education at all levels could well be the solution to many of these difficulties, and to make his people realise it, he felt it was necessary for him to set an example. He became an advocate for higher education and tried to make the younger generation aware of this need. He was also mindful of the needs of those at the adult level and, at hui and tangi throughout the country, spoke on the problems of the day to the Maori people. Thus it was that when Adult Education moved into the Maori field, Maharaia Winiata, after a period of probation, became its first Maori tutor, using the institutions of the tangi and hui as his medium for this activity.
Meanwhile the influence of Professor Ralph Piddington, of the Anthropology Department of the University of Auckland, was making itself felt in Maori quarters. Maharaia came under this influence: awarded a Nuffield Foundation scholarship in 1952, he elected to take post-graduate work in social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. His thesis was “The Changing Role of the Leader in Maori Society”. He was the first Maori to graduate Ph.D.
Into the two years that he spent in Great Britain he managed to cram a host of activities that would have taken many other people with less energy and drive a virtual lifetime. He was technical adviser for the Rank Organisation film “The Seekers” and took a small part; he broadcast on radio and television, attended a race relations seminar in Belgium; lectured at every opportunity; preached at various churches; was present at the Queen's first opening of Parliament; and at all times he spoke of the Maori—his way of life, his hopes, his ambitions, his place in New Zealand society. A fellow student at Edinburgh asked him what the Maori population was and on receiving the reply that there were about 150,000 in a total population of approximately 2½ million, the questioner commented “The way you talk about your people, one would think that they were the 2½ million and the Pakeha the 150,000”.
On his return from Great Britain, Dr. Winiata threw himself into his work with unabated energy. He became secretary to the Runanganui (King's Council) of the Maori people—he wrote articles for Te Ao Hou, the Journal of the Polynesian Society and overseas magazines. He became a member of a number of societies including the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. He was a member of the Maori Section of the National Council of Churches and also of its Commission on International Affairs, of the Committee on Maori Education and of the Board of Methodist Home Missions.
It was the field of race relations that drew his attention. “The Maori and Pakeha people of New Zealand,” he told an ecumenical youth congress in Palmerston North, “have developed a good pattern of race relations. It is a pattern of co-mingling and withdrawal. That it is a - 75 good pattern in the main is indicated by the fact that there is mobility between the races so that a Maori can move over and be regarded as a Pakeha, or that a part-Maori can still be accepted as fully a member of the Maori community . . . We are required to share what each race has to give, for when you share in a Christian spirit, you accept one another as equals.”
In order to gain first-hand knowledge of the attitudes of other peoples towards matters of race, he visited the United States, the Philippines, and China. After each trip overseas he spoke of his experiences to Maori people throughout the country, contributing in no small measure to their better understanding of those countries.
Once when speaking of South East Asia and its relations with New Zealand, he said, “We must build firm bridges between the two areas for purposes of trade and for defence. The millions of South East Asia are still suspicious of Pakehas everywhere. An educated Maori is a man with two cultures—he could help to break down any barriers.”
Maharaia Winiata always believed that, for matters that affected the Maori people as a whole, there should be some kind of national organisation to interpret the Maori viewpoint. He was never more sure of this belief than during the recent controversy concerning the rugby tour of South Africa.
“Ko te hiahia o Maharaia,” said a Maori elder, “kia tuitui tatau i a tatau—kia whakakotahi i a tatau.” “Maharaia's wish was for us to join ourselves together to make ourselves one.” His was a plea to the Maori people to retain their identity, to hold fast to their maoritanga and to make one nation with two peoples. He has been called the “stormy petrel of Maoridom” because, during his short lifetime devoted to Maori causes, he shocked us into realising many of our shortcomings. His untimely death has left a tremendous vacuum in our lives.
His example and scholarship will remain a guiding star for generations of Maoris yet unborn. It was fitting that a Maori University student, Wiremu Tawhai, was moved at Judea Pa to speed the departed spirit on its way to Rerenga Wairua with these words, true to the Maori tradition in which Maharaia Winiata lived and died: