Koro Wetere and the reform of Māori Affairs

Koro Tainui Wetere (1935-2018)The recent sad passing of Koro Wetere marked quite a milestone for Māori politics, and Māori history.

As a Minister in the reforming Fourth Labour Government, Wetere had his hands on significant pieces of legislation, not least that affecting the Waitangi Tribunal. But the viability of Māori futures, independent of the Crown, was also in his sights.

It was all a long way from the relaxed, rural environs of Oparue where he was born and raised after 1935. Following stints at Te Kuiti College and Massey University, Wetere was appointed to a Ratana Ministry, serving his Ngāti Maniapoto kin of the King Country. And there he might have happily remained, but for the Labour Party, long-time political partner of Ratana, which soon came knocking.

Wetere was recruited to the Party in 1957 and eventually won the seat of Western Māori in 1969, assuming the mantle of illustrious forbears like Wiremu Te Wheoro (1879-1884) and Hoanui Taipua (1886-1893), glittering names in the pantheon of Māori politics.

To most observers, Koro Wetere was an unlikely reformer; he was certainly staunch and steeped in tradition, but he was also self-effacing and somewhat reclusive by nature. Māori Members of Parliament in the 1970s - Koro Wetere (Western Māori), Matiu Rata (Northern Māori), Whetu Tirakatene-Sullivan (Southern Māori) and Parone Reweti (Eastern Māori).Working alongside Matiu Rata, a true reformer, changed all this. It was Rata, as Northern Māori MP, who pushed Norman Kirk’s Third Labour Government hard for change in how things were done for Māori. Rata’s most significant achievement was the Waitangi Tribunal, set up in 1975. But he also gave vioce to Māori calls for political autonomy,  an aspiration held since the early 1890s.

When Labour lost power in 1975, the mantle of reform passed to Wetere, especially once a disillusioned Rata walked away from Labour in 1979, to establish his own ill-fated Mana Motuhake Party.

Koro Wetere seized the mantle with both hands. His big chance came with the election of David Lange’s Fourth Labour Government in 1984. By then, Māori had long wearied of Crown paternalism, and they were saying so. A Māori Economic Summit of 1984, convened to address Maoridom’s slide into an economic and social abyss, called for greater power, resources and autonomy.

This time, the government was listening. But Māori communal structures were weak, or nonexistent. Grass-roots reform was urgently needed, if State resources were to flow to Māori. The Department of Māori Affairs was also in the firing line – Wetere wanted this behemoth abolished, with its powers devolved to Māori. The Department’s funding could be redirected to Māori as soon as iwi structures were reformed, credible social and economic programmes were established, and Māori themselves were sufficiently upskilled to manage this new, daunting opportunity.

It was a heady time of urgent and fast-paced reform, all masterfully managed by Koro Wetere as Minister of Māori Affairs.

The Tangi Of Koro Wetere, Ngaruawahia, July 2018.One consultation exercise, to promote the He Tirohanga Rangapu reform policy undertaken in 1988, was the largest sounding of Māori opinion ever undertaken. Wetere and his team of officials blitzed the country. Marae after marae responded positively to Wetere’s resolute performance at powhiri, whaikorero, wananga and hui, his booming te reo resonating off every pou and whare. Those officials along for the ride were witness to quite a history in the making.

In the midst of this reforming zeal, the government agreed to extend the Waitangi Tribunal’s powers of enquiry back to 1840, placing all of New Zealand’s history under judicial review. It was a significant move but should be seen as part Wetere’s passionate drive to devolve more power and resources to Māori.

In the end, Wetere had his way. Māori Affairs was abolished in 1989. New legislation provided for reformed iwi structures to be established so that devolved programmes and monies could be handled properly. Maori communal structures underwent change the like of which had not been seen before, all overseen by a determined Minister of Māori Affairs, Koro Wetere.

When the Fourth Labour Government lost office in 1990, Wetere returned to the Opposition benches, and retired six years late, leaving behind a signififcant legacy of reform that has lasted, and sets the tenor for today. Though still active as advisor and confidant to the Māori Queen, Koro Tainui Wetere largely withdrew from sight, still a humble and engaging man, one further glittering name  in the pantheon of Māori politics.

During the Wetere reform era, Danny Keenan (the writer of this website) was one of the Māori Affairs officials accompanying Wetere as he travelled the country, consulting with  Māori, promoting his ambitious reform agenda.  

 

Season’s Greetings Everyone

Awesome photo is of Holly, daughter of our website photographer Bryn, and Philippa.

‘Through time and oft tears is life’s measure known,

 andof beating hearts, our life’s fortunes have grown,

 yet weary not in our love for those of bitter soils now sown,  

that they, and we, might together reap life’s promise of humanity renown ..’

  

Double Take

Seen at Rapid City Airport, Rapid City, South Dakota, during a visit there in 1998 ..

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

The Past from the Paepae

"The Past from the Paepae' - a description of Māori oral history published by Danny in

The paepae is the place on the marae where elders stand, to deliver their speeches and, as it so happens, their versions of history. Speeches are an oral process of course. How do kaumātua bring to mind such histories, on such occasions?

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During the 1990s, the compiling and writing of oral histories became a particular interest of Māori who were then setting out as ‘historians’, whether as Māori historians or tribal historians.

The distinction wasn’t important to Māori, since methods and processes were largely the same for both groups.

However, a small group of Māori historians working within mainstream universities, and disciplines, did emerge. This gave rise to a small but interesting literature, written by Māori, focussing on what exactly oral history was to Māori – its methods, processes, protocols and value.

Oakura Marae, Oakura, just south of New Plymouth.Some attempt was also made, at this time, to locate those observations within a much broader mainstream literature dealing with oral history.

In 2005, Danny published an article on Māori oral history, where he essentially argued that the form and frameworks of oral history for Māori took their cue from the paepae.Awesome Holly - young Holly Thomas, of Arrowntown, daughter of our website photographer, Bryn Thomas and Philippa.

That is, from the place where elders stood, when delivering important speeches, especially to visitors coming onto the marae (the marae of course being the temporal, living embodiment of all Māori knowledge, including knowledge 0f the past, or history) .

Plse click the cover image above if you’d like to read the article. The reference is – Danny Keenan, ‘The Past from the Paepae. The Uses of the Past in Māori History’ in Māori Oral History: A Collection, (eds) Rachel Selby and Alison Laurie, Oral History Association of New Zealand, Wellington, pp. 54-61.

 

Farewell to Rangikotuku

Rangikotuku at Parihaka, early 2015, standing by the now-vacant area where Te Whiti O Rongomai's house once stood. We received the very sad news on Monday 13 November that Rangikotuku had passed away.

Rangikotuku Rukuwai lived in New Plymouth with his awesome wife, Ngaraiti. Rangikotuku was the inspiration for the book written about his great-grandfather, Te Whiti O Rongomai, which was published in 2015.

Rangikotuku was born in 1927 and was raised at Parihaka, amongst the families of Tohu Kakahi who was Te Whiti’s revered partner during the struggles which began in the 1860s. Rangikotuku and Ngaraiti were married at Pungarehu and lived for a time in the back of the Pungarehu Dairy factory.

Rangikotuku stands by the tomb of his great-grandfather, Te Whiti O Rongomai, at Parihaka in early 2015.Strangely enough, at the same time as Rangikotuku and Ngaraiti were living there, Danny Keenan (author of the book) was living a few houses away, thō at the time he was only a pre-schooler.

Rangikotuku was a quiet and gentle soul, a deeply cultural and intellectual person who nonetheless spoke simply, an awesome and loving person who always stayed true to the lessons of his upbringing.

One day, when we were walking around Parihaka, the question came up, why are we writing this book? So many fine books, articles and monographs had already been written, some by Māori. Rangikotuku said it was because the story of Parihaka needed to be told.

Rangikotuku addresses the tangata whenua during the powhiri, at the signing of the Te Ātiawa Deed of Settlement, Rangiatea, New Plymouth, 9 August 2014.Times were changing, he said. We were now living in a different age, when our Claims were being settled and our people were moving forward with economic development, papakāinga empowerment and cultural rejuvenation.

But our young people were coming home, and, in this new world, they were wanting to know their stories. This was why the book needed to be written, he said.

Rangikotuku talked about his upbringing, at Parihaka and for a time, living down on Pungarehu beach. All of the old people he had known were alive within living memories. The legacy of Parihaka and Te Whiti O Rongomai had always remained central to these lived memories, and to his lifetime of so many experiences.

'Ask That Mountain', Te Whiti's phrase, used by Dick Scott as the title of his book by the same name.In the end, Te Whiti had always talked about peace and unity, said Rangikotuku.  His teaching was about his people, and all peoples, living this way.  And that was Te Whiti’s legacy, he said.

It was also the legacy of Rangikotuku.

NZ Wars Seminars – Otaki Series

Click to see the full programme of the Lecture Series, including info on the awesome speakers featuring in the series. Final screen lecture tonight – Tuesday evening November 28 –  featuring pre-eminent wars scholar, Professor Jamie Belich, with Dr Hirini Kaa, young scholar and TV presenter from Ngāti Porou.

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Acclaimed Māori filmmaker Tainui Stephens has organised a seminar series focusing on the New Zealand Wars, being held in Otaki.

The series began on 28 November – New Zealand Wars Day – with Tainui presenting and discussing his acclaimed TV Series on the wars, which featured Prof Jamie Belich.

Thereafter, on each Tuesday evening for the following 5 weeks, a panel of Māori historians and scholars will discuss each episode in turn. These discussions should be very interesting, with a wide variety of Māori perspectives on the conflicts being presented.

The list of awesome speakers featuring in Tainui's screen lecture series. Plse click on the poster (right) if you’d like to see more info as to who the awesome speakers will be – see also left for the programme line up. These screen lectures extend into late November.

Congratulations to Tainui for this awesome initiative, which  coincides with the introduction of the New Zealand Wars Day, for the first time this year.

The television series The New Zealand Wars, directed by Tainui Stephens, upon which the screen lecture series at Otaki are based.The date of the New Zealand Wars day – 28 October – was determined by a meeting of Māori kaumātua / elders last year.

The date was chosen because it represents the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1835.

Tainui’s screen lecture series is one of several different initiatives being held around New Zealand to commemorate this important day on our historical calendar.

Incidentally, if you’re interested in the topic of the New Zealand Wars on film, click here for more on this interesting topic : NZ Wars on Film.

Over the years, the wars have been featured in a number of movies, TV dramas and documentaries, though, these days, the topic isn’t attracting much attention from film makers.

Searching for Terror ..

Click here to see website where most of this book has been reproduced - 'Terror in our Midst?' Searching for Terror in Aotearoa New Zealand - edited by Danny Keenan, published by Huia Publishers, Wellington, 2008.Ten years ago, the global ‘war on terror’ arrived in New Zealand.

On 15 October 2007, private homes throughout New Zealand were raided by squads of police, for the most part in full riot gear, carrying machine guns and handguns with knives strapped to their black garments. The raids occurred at dawn, under cover of darkness.

They smashed doors, windows and furniture, arresting people, confiscating computers, cameras, electronics, files, and papers, searching for incrimminating material to support charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

One of those arrested was Vietnam veteran Tuhoe Lambert, who lived in South Auckland with his family. At 6am, the police arrived, ordering the whole family into the street at gunpoint, including his 12 year old daughter, Patricia. The house was then ransacked.

Later that morning, the police occupied and locked down Ruātoki, a small Māori town on the western edge of the Urewera Valley.

Ruatoki Valley, Ruatoki, Te Urewera. The entire areas around Ruātoki and Taneātua were cut off. People were prevented from leaving their homes. Cars were stopped; occupants were ordered out at gunpoint. They were then searched and photographed. According to some witnesses, a school bus full of children was boarded by armed police.

Reporters from a local paper soon arrived – the pictures they took went around the world.

According to Tuhoe kaumātua Tamati Kruiger, a gross breach of civil rights occurred at Ruātoki that day – detaining people for hours without food or water, subjecting women to body searches, herding people into sheds while property searches were underway, and photographing onlookers near the roadblock entrance.

One young woman, Annie Rangihika, 17, was searched in full public view. When she was later approached by the New Zealand Herald, the Whakatane High School student declined to comment, saying only that she would never forget what happened.Life in Ruatoki, Ruatoki Valley, Te Urewera

At least 17 people around New Zealand were arrested. But, said Mr Kruiger, this did not include people taken from Ruatoki to Rotorua for questioning, before being released. Police at Te Ngae station had denied people legal representation, he claimed, and had moved them around police stations, thereby confusing concerned family and friends.

During a police press conference later that day, the police commissioner talked about the ‘terror raids’, thereby placing the language of the ‘war on terror’ into the public domain.

The raids had been necessary, he said, because certain individuals had been identified as posing a dangerous threat to the country’s peace and security. Eight key activists had attended terrorist training camps in Te Urewera, he alleged, learning all about civil instruction, assassination and naplam bombing.

Their ring leader was Tuhoe rangatira, Tame Iti, who stood accused of arranging and conducting these terrorist training camps. Iti’s house was raided, while he was asleep. At gunpoint, Iti, who is not a young man, was made to lie face down on the floor.

Those 17 arrested later appeared in court, charged with a range of alleged arms offences. Charges under the terrorism legislation would soon follow, it was said, once the police had amassed their evidence.

The police lockdown at Ruatoki, 15 October 2007.But the police case, and their evidence, never made it to court.

On 9 November 2007, Solicitor General, Dr David Collins, reported that, having reveiwed all of the intercepted evidence obtained by the police, he could not permit the material to be entered into court. He therefore refused to allow charges to be laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

This was because the 2002 Act was ‘incoherent and unworkable’, he said. The Act could not be applied to those arrested in Ruātoki and other undisclosed locations. The Act could only apply after alleged terrorism acts had occurred, not before.

The Solicitor General’s ruling constituted a dramatic set back for the government, and the police. According to John Minto, the ruling proved that ‘no domestic terrorist cells existed’. The ransacking and raids had reaped no rewards for police.

Instead, he said, the police and politicians had done a great disservice to the country, exacerbated by their continuing use of words like ‘terror’ to justify their activities, imbuing their raids with a false moral purpose. Whole communities had been traumatised and civil liberities threatened, he said.

Meantime, discontent amongst Māori had grown. On 12 November 2007, on the day that the last of the 17 arrested were finally released on bail, a hikoi left Taneātua, heading for Wellington. 1500 peole eventually made it to Parliament, only to find the gates locked shut.

Te Rewarewa Marae, Ruatoki. Labour Ministers Parekura Horomia and Nania Mahuta spoke to the protesters, but they were loudly challenged and derided, their pleas for Māori to ‘wait and see’ falling on deaf ears.

According to Nicky Hager, the raids had constituted a ‘clossal over-reactiom, a gigantic anti terror operation where there were no terrorists’. The government, armed with new legislation, resources and an emboldened police force, had instituted the raids of 15 October 2007, confident that terrorism and insurrection would be found and rooted out.

But, like Sir Galahd who had searched in vain for the Holy Grail, officers had stumbled about, hoping that one day, they would set eyes on the prize. But such a policy came only at the continuing expense of visiting trauma, misery, and despair upon ordinary New Zealanders.

 

Congrats to Pikihuia winners

This year's awesome winners of the Pikihuia Awards for Māori literature.Congratulations to this year’s awesome winners of the Pikihuia Māori Literature Awards.

The 2017 Pikihuia Awards were announced at a function featuring this year’s finalists, on Saturday 9 September 2017, at the Wharewaaka Convention Centre in Wellington.

Every two years, the Pikihuia Awards are arranged to acknowldge young and exisiting Māori writers. They also encourage new and diverse Māori viewpoints and writing in both English and Māori.

The Pikihuia Awards comprise six creative fiction categories,  including short stories in English and Māori, film screenplays, novel extracts and especiallty new writing by secondary school students.

This year's Pikihuia Awards finalists.All of the Pikihuia finalists deserve acknowledging for their awesome creative work. It’s such a shame that the mainstream media made no mention of these awards. Acknowledgement of their awesome creative talents was left to the Scoop website and Māori media, especially Radio Waatea and Māori Television.

Whilst that coverage was excellent, it’s such a shame – these awesome writers, like Māori writers and artists at large, deserve a wider acknowledgment and appreciation which is not easy to come by. For example, this years Ockham NZ Literature Awards featured no Māori finalists, and the Whanganui Literary Festival this year includes no Māori writers.

But the good news is, this year’s finalists have had their awesome writings published in Huia Short Stories 12 Contemporary Māori Fiction, published by Huia Publishers, Wellington, 2017.

This year's winners have their writings published in 'Huia Short Stories 12', published by Huia Publishers, Wellington, 2017.The Pikihuia Awards are sponsored by the Māori Literature Trust, Creative New Zealand, the New Zealand Film Commission, Xero Digital Services, Te Puni Kokiri and Huia Publishers.

The Trust is chaired by Māori publisher Robyn Bargh and includes Patricia Grace, Sir Hirini Mead, Tilly Reedy, Whiti Hereake and John Huria.

Tina Makareti, past winner of a Pikihuia Award and acclaimed Māori writer.Past winners of Pikihuia Awards include acclaimed Māori writers like Tina Makareti, Ana Morley, Paula Morris and James George.

Tina (for example) has gone on the great things of course, having published her acclaimed literary memoir, based on her PhD, Where the Rekohu Bone Sings in 2014, and, this year, Black Marks on the White Page with the doyen of Māori literature, Witi Ihimaera.

Te Pouhere Korero – 25 yrs ..

Click to see Table of Contents - inaugural Te Pouhere Korero Journal, launched in March 1999.

Te Pouhere Korero turns 25 this year, thō sadly it’s a birthday that probably won’t be celebrated, with Te Pouhere long since subsumed into other academic associations, like Māori social scientists, or even into the always-dominant New Zealand Historical Association, which, from the outset, was always our worry. Still, it’s a birthday worth acknowledging.

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In 1992, a small group of Māori interested in Māori history established Te Pouhere Korero, which was a network of Māori historians, or at least, Māori interested in history.

At that time, there was no dedicated organisation catering for Māori who were interested in history, be they students, academics, librarians, museum workers, iwi researchers and the like.

An inaugural meeting was held in late September 1992 at Māori Studies, Massey University. This gathering attracted a surprisingly large number of Māori writers, authors and scholars, with many notable apologies also given.

On the invitation of Mr Joe Pere (left)and Mrs Rose Pere, a further hui was held at Manutuke Marae, near Gisborne, in late November 1992.  Here, Te Pouhere Korero was formally established. We had thought that Joe might be prevailed upon to accept our inaugural Chairperson position, but he humbly declined. Sadly, Joe passed away in 2012, but not before he published his biography (with other writers) of his illustrious forbear, Wiremu Pere. Dr Manuka Henare (now of Auckland University) was appointed our inaugural Chairperson.

Mr Joe Pere who, with his wife Rose, invited Māori historians to his marae at Manutuke for the inaugural Te Pouhere Korero gathering, 1992.Many Māori interested in history were involved, including Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal, Tania Rei, Aroha Harris, Monty Soutar, Tairongo Amoamo, Ailsa Smith, John Delamare, Tui Macdonald, Danny Keenan, Jim Williams, Bernadette Arapere, Te Maire Tau, Brad Haami and Buddy Mikaere – quite a formidable line up.

Joe Pere's biography of Wiremu Pere MP 1837-1915.Our leading light however was undoubtedly Dr Miria Simpson (left,  below) who held sway over all of our proceedings, providing support, inspiration and encouragement. Sadly, Miria passed away in 2002. Our Huia Histories of Māori, published by Huia Publishers, Wellington, in 2011, was dedicated to Miria.

Meeting with Pākehā

Perhaps the highlight of those early days was a gathering where Māori historians met with Pākehā historians over 3 days, discussing at length what ‘Māori history’ was, or might be, vis-a-vis mainstream New Zealand history. Not all of our members were happy that the meeting went ahead, not least Miria who nonetheless sat patiently through all of the proceedings.

Dr Miria Simpson, Te Pouhere Korero's leading light.During that conference, looking around the room, you could say it certainly was a ‘who’s who’ of New Zealand history, at least, of Māori-Pākehā history.

Thereafter, regular hui were convened around the country, attended by a small yet dedicated group of Māori interested in presenting papers on further developing the notion of ‘Māori history’ as a legitimate focus of academic study – strange as it may seem today.

At one of these hui in 1999, our academic Journal Te Pouhere Korero was launched.

In the first two issues, Danny published two articles, one on Māori historiography (issue No 1), and the second article in issue No 2 on Māori/Native American comparative history.

Māori History Challenges Māori Students 

In time, a really talented group of younger Māori interested in academic history did emerge, and it did seem that Te Pouhere would eventually pass into their capable hands. In fact, a student group of Māori history students was formed in 2009, named Te Pū Nehenehe.

Front page of inaugural Te Pouhere journal, signed by those present when launched in March 1999.This group asked the question ‘ ‘where, in the histories of Aotearoa/New Zealand, are the Māori values that lie at the foundation of the Māori experience’? A searching essay posing such questions was published in Te Pouhere Korero 3 (2009, pp. 105-115), written by Erin Keenan and Arini Loader, with Rewa Morgan, Kara Pennington, Mathew Mullany, Tawhana Chadwick and Kesaia Waugh.

Ten years earlier, Sheryl Connell, Mereina Pelling and John Chapman had published a similar piece the Te Pouhere Korero Journal, 1:1, March 1999, pp. 36-45. This article had pointed to the ‘strange land’ within which Māori students of University history found themselves. Ten years later, Te Pū Nehenehe emerged; Māori students were still asking important questions.

The future of the discipline of Māori history was continuing to challenge our students, and looked interesting. Perhaps Te Pouhere had a role in fostering these continuing discussions.

Click to see Table of Contents - Our second Te Pouhere Korero Journal, issued 2002.

Māori History Becomes Social Science ?

However, other fairly dominant personnel changes in Te Pouhere, especially from Māori Studies Departments, saw Te Pouhere’s focus move markedly away from such directions, and dedicated ‘Māori history’, towards an eclectic amalgam of Māori Studies / Māori Language /Māori Social Sciences/ Māori Literary Studies/Indigenous studies.

As a result, Te Pouhere’s  original focus on the ‘discipline of Māori history’ was subsumed by Māori more interested in the social sciences, where ‘ Māori history’ had an uncertain place. Other agendas were also running at the time; a political pendulum of sorts had undoubtedly swung towards Māori social science, leaving Māori historians in its wake.

Danny presented a paper to this effect at a Māori Social Science conference in 2008, where he argued that the discipline of ‘history’, much less ‘Māori history’, were not ‘social sciences’. However, it was a difficult argument to get across, in an environment where Māori academics were clearly looking to move beyond the real, or perceived, constraints imposed by such a discipline as ‘Māori history’.

Grounded in the Land and Culture

Huia Histories of Māori, published in 2013 by Huia Publishers, Wellington. When Danny wrote the Introduction to the Huia Histories of Māori (2011),  he entitled the chapter, ‘Land, Culture and History Interwoven’ (pp. xviii-xl). This was  a quote from an earlier, interesting article written by Joe Pere (Joseph Anaru Hetekia Tekani Pere, ‘Hitori Māori;, The Future of the Past, Themes in New Zealand History, Department of History, Massey University, 1991, pp. 29-48).

In this Introduction, Danny summarised some of the academic/theoretical  ground that had been covered by Māori historians in those early years. Most of those historians, as it happened, had participated in the early Te Pouhere Korero debates about the nature of Māori history, as indeed had many of the contributors to that auspicious publication.

Danny acknowledged Joe’s view of ‘land, culture and history interwoven’ as providing the essential basis for all Māori knowledge, including knowledge of the past, or history.

The first two Te Pouhere Korero Journals were produced in 1999 and 2002. The contents of these two journals will be uploaded here shortly.

You can also read more about ‘Māori history’ here – Māori history.