Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Evolution of Pakeha Culture

And the Deep Fusion of European and Maori Cultures that has become the Contemporary Maori Worldview

This is a companion piece to “Mai i Hawaiki ki Hawaiki – the Evolution of Maori Culture”. It revisits some aspects of that previous essay.

It is impossible to fully understand the contemporary Maori worldview without an understanding of the evolution of European culture, for the two cultures are now completely interwoven. What we now regard as the contemporary Maori worldview is actually a deep fusion of Maori and European cultures. Our ancestors of three hundred years ago would not recognize what we now understand to be the Maori worldview and Maori culture.

To understand ourselves we need to understand both sides of that fusion of worldviews and cultures.

That is a bold and confronting statement perhaps to those who live and breathe their Maori culture. But one has only to reflect on our almost universal conversion to Christianity and the seamless incorporation of Christian ritual into much Maori ritual, and vice versa, to comprehend the extent of the merging of cultures. And that is only one element of the European worldview that has been adopted, adapted and blended. There are many more. However there remains still a significant cultural gap between Maori and Pakeha indicating that Maori have done most of the adoption and adaptation, and Pakeha culture has not moved much at all.

The history of the Western worldview and culture is often told through the history of ideas, or the history of Western philosophy. I first came to that history through Bertrand Russell’s “History of Western Philosophy”. However for the purposes of this essay I am wielding a much broader brush and looking at the history of the evolving Western worldview, leaving aside the thinking of the many European philosophers who between them created that worldview.

I paint this broad picture through the works of many writers of both fiction and non-fiction. The first is novelist Daniel Quinn who describes himself as a cultural critic and his philosophy as new tribalism. He began trying to describe his philosophy in non-fiction but found it easier to describe and teach through fiction.

Daniel Quinn in his series of novels about culture and worldviews, describes a culture as a people enacting a story. A story is a scenario interrelating man, the world, and the gods, and to enact a story is to live so as to make the story a reality.

(“Ishmael, An adventure of the mind and spirit”, Bantam, New York, 1992, p 41).

The story usually describes the act of creation and builds the model of the universe according to each culture.

Every story is based on a premise, is the working out of a premise. For instance, Quinn describes the premise of the tribalised hunter gatherer world prior to the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago as man belongs to the world. The premise of the new story, and of the culture that has since overrun most of the globe, is that the world belongs to man.

These are two fundamentally different premises.

  • The first, “man belongs to the world”, shaped human cultures for at least 3,000,000 years beginning with the appearance of Homo habilis, the first humans, during which time humans lived lightly upon the Earth. The Polynesians, including Maori, lived mostly but not entirely according to that premise right up until being colonized by the Europeans.
  • The second, “the world belongs to man”, has led to the exploitation of the Earth.
  • They are the master ideas that determined the fate of humankind, of other species and of the Earth, and not just the fate of the human cultures based upon them.

The way that culture is continuously inculcated in its members is described by Quinn:

“Mother Culture speaks to you through the voice of your parents – who likewise have been listening to her voice from the day of their own birth. She speaks to you through cartoon characters and storybook characters and comic-book characters. She speaks to you through newscasters and schoolteachers and presidential candidates. You’ve listened to her on talk shows. You’ve heard her in popular songs, advertising jingles, lectures, political speeches, sermons and jokes. You’ve read her thoughts in newspaper articles, textbooks, and comic strips.”

(“My Ishmael, A Sequel”, Bantam, New York, 1997, PP 27-28).

A worldview, and the culture it produces is based on a set of continuously reinforced ideas. The ideas are not immutable laws of nature, but human constructs that shape the way humans live within their culture. For instance the widely accepted concept of the market economy that prevails across the world today is based not in some immutable truth, but in a set of beliefs that are part of a worldview:

“All cultures have a set of beliefs or organizing principles that serve not only to guide behaviour but also to explain and justify the existing state of the world. Western cultural beliefs, in particular, serve to justify the peculiar material relationship that has evolved among the members of our society and between humans and the rest of the world. Our culture sees class divisions as inevitable, even desirable, and views nature as a collection of natural resources to be used to fuel the engine of economic growth and technological progress.”

(John Gowdy (Ed), “Limited Wants, Unlimited Means: A reader on Hunter-Gather economics and the environment”, Island Press, Washington, 1998, p xvi).

In “The Last Hours of Sunlight” (Bantam, NSW, 1999. p 100), Thom Hartmann writes of the need for transformation of personal and global worldviews from an ecological perspective. He has this to say about the stories that are the myths, paradigms and beliefs of a culture, that form the reality of that culture:

“Since so much of what we call reality is subjective, there are no right or wrong stories; instead there are useful and not useful stories, depending on what culture you belong to, and depending on your status in your culture. Depending on your relationship to the natural world and your vision of the future.”

The point is that what is held to be valid or true in one culture is not necessarily so in another culture or in any other culture (although there may be a few universal “truths”).

“A worldview is a set of presuppositions which we hold about the basic make-up of our world “.

– James Sire, “The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalogue”

“A rough and ready definition for ‘worldview’ would be the collection of beliefs which a person holds about reality, whether it concerns matters of science, human nature, ethics, religious beliefs or the like. Many of the deepest and most long-lived conflicts among humans derive from fundamental worldview schisms. We find many splits in our own country over questions of race, of ‘rights’, and of politics—all of which derive from the variety of worldviews among us. “

– Jason Waymire, “The Burden of Proof”

Even within a dominant worldview there are competing and sometimes opposing aspects of that worldview.

The clash of the Maori and European worldviews pre-dates the colonisation of Aotearoa New Zealand. It has its roots in the rise of a 10,000 year old worldview that is said to have arisen in the “agricultural revolution” in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia in the Middle East about 12,000 to 10,000 years ago. It may well be that the agricultural revolution occurred in many locations, and was not just confined to the Fertile Crescent. However from that time onwards the post-agricultural worldview has sought to eliminate and supplant tribal and hunter gatherer worldviews. The Biblical story of Cain and Abel is thought by some modern scholars to be about that conflict between agricultural and pre-agricultural cultures in the time of the birth of the new civilisation. Cain was a crop farmer and his younger brother Abel a shepherd.

It is however somewhat misleading to describe the newer worldview as being born in the agricultural revolution, for not all agriculuralists adopted that particular worldview, which seeks to dominate nature. It was a particular form of agriculture that Quinn describes as totalitarian agriculture. Totalitarian agriculture destroys its competitors (other human societies and other species), destroys their food, and denies them access to food.

(Daniel Quinn, “The Story of B”, Bantam, New York, 1996, pp153-154).

The Maori worldview, at the point of contact with European colonisation, was part of the broad culture that prevailed across the world prior to the rise of the post-agricultural worldview. The prior worldview has not been entirely eliminated and lives on in the remaining tribal and hunter gatherer societies of the world. Everywhere, those societies are under pressure and threat of extinction by the dominant worldview. Many of the beliefs of that prior worldview also remain in those tribal cultures that have been overrun and supplanted, but still struggle for legitimacy.

The European worldview at the time of first contact with Maori had for about 12,000 to 10,000 years left behind that ancient worldview, the one it used to share with the ancestors of the Oceanic, Polynesian and Maori peoples.

Thom Hartmann describes the two as Older and Younger Cultures:

“The Old Cultures, be they agricultural or hunting/gathering, live with an intrinsic connection to the Earth. For them, the planet on which we live is, itself, a living organism. It has its own life, its own destiny, and, in a way that they Younger Cultures could never understand, its own consciousness. Things that run counter to the Earth’s nature will (naturally) not work in the long run – although the damage may be too slow to be noticeable on the Younger Culture time scale.”

“The Younger Cultures live quite different lives: they view themselves as separate from the Earth, with “dominion” over it, and see the resources of the Earth only as things to be used and then discarded. Nature is the enemy, not the mother, father, or brother/sister of these Younger peoples, and their disregard for it is so visceral, so intrinsic to their world-view, that many live their entire lives without ever once questioning their own cultural assumptions about Man’s place in the universe.”

(“The Prophet’s Way”, Mythical Books, VermontUSA, 1997, pp 205-206)

Where Hartmann writes of Older Cultures and Younger Cultures, in his novels on the same theme Daniel Quinn refers to the Takers and the Leavers.

“Yes, okay. The premise of the Taker story is the world belongs to man. I thought for a couple of minutes, then I laughed. It’s almost too neat. The premise of the Leaver story is man belongs to the world.

(“Ishmael, An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit”, Bantam, New York, 1992, p 239).

The extension of this Taker premise is that the world was made for man, and man was made to rule it, and in order to make himself ruler of the world, man first had to conquer it.

10,000 years ago this fundamental change in the premise underlying the dominant culture and its worldview overturned a culture and worldview that had served Homo sapiens and its predecessors successfully for 3,000,000 years.


In the last 10,000 years of the 3,000,000 year history of humankind and its ancestors (just 0.33% of our time on Earth), huge changes have been brought about worldwide, all as a result of a simple premise, or master idea that spread and eliminated another premise, thousands of other human cultures, and thousands of other species. The result has not been entirely beneficial for the world, or for humankind.

“The view of human nature embedded in Western economic theory is an anomaly in human history. In fact, the basic organizing principle of our market economy – that humans are driven by greed and that more is always better than less – is a microscopically small minority view among the tens of thousands of cultures that have existed since Homo sapiens emerged some 200,000 years ago.” (Gowdy,1998).

That is not to say that the newer worldview has been entirely bad for humanity. It has brought with it a great many benefits but also much devastation. But the past cannot be undone.

Leadership of the new worldview in the Western world eventually shifted to Greece. Polish philosopher Henryk Skolimowski describes the development of the Western mind from that point to the present

(“Participatory Mind: A New Theory of Knowledge of the Universe”, New York, Penguin/Arkana, 1994).

The Western Mind

Skolimowski describes the development of the Western mind as “the four great cycles of the Western mind” (Mythos, Logos, Theos, and Mechanos) and then describes the emerging transition to a new Western worldview as Evolutionary Telos.


The Western mind has its beginnings in the ancient Greek worldview of Homeric times, about the eighth century BC, based on a view of the cosmos dominated by the gods from their abode on Mount Olympus. The Greeks recognised that humans can be masters of their own destiny up to a point, and beyond that everything was governed by the gods of their mythology. The Greek tragedies were a dramatic representation of how people saw their frail condition. Mythos worked well for a number of centuries.


Around the transition from the sixth to the fifth century BC Logos was born in Greece, as a radically new form of understanding, giving rise to new forms of art, philosophy, science, and social and political institutions. A new cosmology was created within which things were explained by the natural powers of reason. The gods on MountOlympus no longer held sway. This was the time of Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and other Greek scholars. The Romans adopted Logos from the Greeks and incorporated it within their own culture, and the Roman Empire operating within a fusion of the Greek logos and Roman power, dominated the known world and carried the worldview to the world at large, until it collapsed in 410 AD.

Theos (Christianity)

Out of the ruins of the Roman Empire a new worldview emerged, and consolidated itself over a period of about four centuries. It was fostered in small monasteries throughout Western Europe, with those in Ireland taking a leading role. The new form of reason spread across Western Europe from the eleventh century. The reasoning of Theos was inspired and guided by the monotheistic Judaeo-Christian God and emphasised the transient nature of physical reality and earthly existence. It was an hierarchical world in which the individual submitted to the preordained plan of God (and his earthly messengers). It was an enormously creative period exemplified by the Gregorian chant and Chartres cathedral. Theos began to disintegrate as the Church grew in power and became corrupt.

The Renaissance was an interlude between Theos and Mechanos, a period of exuberance and liberation from the strictures of Theos, in which painters and other artists flourished. It did not however mature into a cosmology and worldview, and was merely a transition.

Mechanos (including the scientific and industrial revolutions)

A new worldview came into being in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, based on the view of the universe as a clock-like entity or a machine, operating according to deterministic laws. To know these laws is to understand nature, and to be able to control it. It was shaped by figures such as Galileo, Bacon, Newton and Descartes. Mechanos saw the rise of the reductionist scientific method in which only “objective” information is considered valid. It also introduced dualism, the separation of mind and body. Many of the architects of Mechanos were also atheists, although many also maintained their Christian beliefs and reached an accommodation between the two opposing worldviews. That accommodation persists into the present. The mechanistic cosmology has brought about enormous material benefits at least to the Western world and lately to the Asian world; but has equally brought ecological devastation, human fragmentation and spiritual impoverishment. Its guardian is the university, and it reigns still, despite the evidence pointing to the need for a new worldview.

“The paradigm that is now receding has dominated our culture for several hundred years, during which it has shaped our modern Western society and has significantly influenced the rest of the world. This paradigm consists of a number of entrenched ideas and values, among them the view of the universe as a mechanical system composed of elementary building blocks, the view of the human body as a machine, the view of life in society as a competitive struggle for existence, the belief in unlimited material progress to be achieved through economic and technological growth, and – last, but not least – the belief that a society in which the female is everywhere subsumed under the male is one that follows a basic law of nature. All of these assumptions have been fatefully challenged by recent events.”

(Capra, Fritjof, “The Web of Life”, HarperCollins, London, 1996, pp 5-6)

Evolutionary Telos

“There is nothing static in our universe. Seen appropriately, the universe is one continuous story of extraordinary creative unfolding.”

“To begin with, the discovery of evolution does not start with Darwin, but with Charles Lyell. Lyell saw and described the geological evolution in his seminal treatise Principles of Geology (1830-33). By the time Darwin came onto the stage, the ground was prepared. Darwin applied Lyell’s idea a step further and showed that species were evolving as well.”

The next two stages of this discovery are happening under our very eyes. We are actually articulating them, sometimes consciously sometimes only gropingly. These next two stages of evolution are the recognition of conceptual evolution, and then of theological evolution (the latter, because of the nature of traditional religions, is the most difficult for people to accept).”

(Skolimowski, Henryk, “A Sacred Place to Dwell”, Element, Dorset UK, 1993, pp 52-53).

After three centuries Mechanos is now evolving into something else, although its adherents still cling to their outdated beliefs. Work on a new cosmology and a new worldview has been going on in many fields for at least five decades, in physics, ecological science, environmental science, biology, theology, and many other disciplines. The central theme of this new worldview is the idea of wholeness, in a radical departure from the old mechanistic objectivist approach of Mechanos, and its main premise of fragmentation and separation. There is a new sense of the connectedness of all elements of the universe, a new sense of depth to the human person, and a reclaiming of meaning and spirituality as indispensable components of human life. The universe itself is seen as open and non-deterministic and evolving, as opposed to the outdated Newtonian design in which everything was static and governed by deterministic laws.

In contemporary discourse the debates about environmental issues and about climate change, that become fierce and largely irrational when transported from the scientific domain into the political domain, can be seen as part of the struggle between an outdated but entrenched worldview and a new and inevitable but still evolving worldview. These are not just political and activist issues. They are symptomatic of a seismic shift in worldviews. The neo-liberal economic orthodoxy of the last 30 years will eventually be replaced as part of that shift as well. But old worldviews die hard.

One of the earliest writers to document this transition to a new worldview was Marilyn Ferguson:

“A leaderless but powerful network is working to bring about a radical change in the United States. Its members have broken with certain key elements of Western thought, and they may even have broken continuity with history.

“This network is the Aquarian Conspiracy. It is a conspiracy without a political doctrine. Without a manifesto. With conspirators who seek power only to disperse it, and whose strategies are pragmatic, even scientific, but whose perspective sounds so mystical that they hesitate to discus it. Activists asking different kinds of questions, challenging the establishment from within.

Broader than reform, deeper than revolution, this benign conspiracy for a new human agenda has triggered the most rapid cultural realignment in history. The great shuddering, irrevocable shift overtaking us is not a new political, religious, or philosophical system. It is a new mind – the ascendance of a startling worldview that gathers into its framework breakthrough science and insights from earliest recorded thought.”

(“The Aquarian Conspiracy”, Routledge & Keegan Paul, Great Britain, 1981).

Ferguson touches here on the enormity of the mindshift that takes place during these periods of transition between worldviews, so profound and all-encompassing that those engrossed in their own disciplines and fields of expertise, and in their own political paradigms within the current worldview rarely discern the changes taking place around them. When the new worldview does impinge upon their lives they see it as threatening and dangerous and react accordingly.

Physicist Fritjof Capra has also been writing about the changing worldview for some years:

“The new paradigm may be called a holistic worldview, seeing the world as an integrated whole rather than a dissociated collection of parts. It may also be called an ecological view, if the term ‘ecological’ is used in a much broader and deeper sense than usual. Deep ecological awareness recognises the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena and the fact that, as individuals and societies, we are all embedded in (and ultimately dependent on) the cyclical processes of nature.”

(Capra, 1996, p 6).

This emerging worldview bears some similarity to the pre-agricultural worldview including the pre-colonial Oceanic, Polynesian and Maori worldview.

The Maori Worldview

 “Kotahi tonu te wairua o nga mea katoa”

Writing this essay led me to ask myself just what is the Maori worldview in the 21st Century. It is a question I will explore in a future essay. But for the moment let’s assume that there is a definable Maori worldview and explore some of the influences that have shaped it to this point in our evolution.

Unlike the Western mind, the Maori mind has not undergone the same shifts across the same quite revolutionary 10,000 to 12,000 year period, and Maori culture from the pre-colonial era has to some extent persisted into the modern era. It has however been hugely influenced by contact and fusion with Western culture, across the last 250 to 300 years, giving rise to the contemporary Maori worldview that is actually a deep fusion of both Maori and European cultures.

Whilst we retain beliefs, practices and ways of thinking that are recognisably Maori, our modern beliefs, practices and ways of thinking also have deep roots in the four great cycles of the Western mind; Mythos, Logos, Theos and Mechanos.

The pre-colonial Maori worldview was part of a wider worldview that spans indigenous Oceania, that itself had its genesis in the pre-agricultural worldview shared by all tribal and hunter gatherer societies on Earth, from the beginning of human society. Many of the underlying practices of that human worldview can also be seen in the whole of the web of life on Earth, both human and non-human. We do after all share a great part of our evolutionary history with all life on Earth and with the Earth itself (see Mai i Hawaiki ki Hawaiki).

Despite coming under long-term assault by the Western worldview, the underlying symbolism, psyche and values of the Maori worldview remain to some extent. At the visible level the practice of Maoritanga has endured, although aspects such as te reo Maori have come under threat from the Western worldview. Aspects of tikanga Maori and te kawa o te marae have persisted.

Composite worldviews have been generated by contact with the other worldview, and by constant pressure on Maori to discard the Maori worldview in favour of the Western.

Maori were greatly influenced during early contact by Western technology and trading practices, and by the new agriculture, introducing new concepts of economic activity which were rapidly adopted. Later, Maori social organisation was greatly affected by the destruction of the Maori economic base. Cultural adaptation to the new social and economic environments followed. Maori art forms have retained and evolved ancient symbolism but have been influenced and transformed by new symbolism, tools, materials and techniques borrowed from European art forms. Maori music has been greatly influenced by European music, and by American music forms orginating in Africa.

The early ethnologists interpreted the Maori worldview in ways they could understand, and in doing so changed even Maori perceptions of their own worldview, over time. An early example is the comparison of the supernatural ancestors of the Maori with the Olympian gods of the Greek period of Mythos, leading to the perception of those supernatural ancestors as “gods” rather than ancestors, and to the modern Maori teaching of “Atuatanga”. Another is the amalgamation of many tribal origin stories into a single but mythical story of a “great fleet” of waka that brought Maori settlers to Aotearoa New Zealand. These and many other early misinterpretations persist today in the Maori mind.

An early and immensely strong influence on the Maori mind was Christianity. It has been perhaps the major influence in creating the fusion of Western and Maori worldviews we now understand to be Maori culture. However despite its widespread adoption and influence, Christianity itself has been adapted to conform to many aspects of the Maori worldview amongst Maori congregations, and takes its place alongside and interwoven with traditional Maori ritual, notably on the marae and at tangihanga. The late Dominican priest and scholar Michael Shirres researched and wrote about this process of “inculturation” in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In the process of adopting and adapting the new Christian religion the old Polynesian religion was almost completely discarded. We tend to discount the enormous effect Christianity has had in transforming our Maori worldview but religion is one of the foundations of culture. When you change the religion the culture and worldview is irrevocably changed as well. We have indeed retained many aspects of the pre-Christian Maori worldview, values, symbolism and psyche but they sit upon and are fused into the underlying Middle Eastern and Western religious base that is Christianity.

Mechanos which brought us the scientific, industrial and technological revolutions has been as influential in shaping the contemporary Maori worldview as Christianity (or Theos). Maori today live as much within the scientific, industrial and technological worldview as Pakeha. We are all now homo smartphone.

As the Church is the guardian of the religious foundation of the Western worldview, in the secular world the universities are its guardians. The universities in New Zealand have reinterpreted the Maori worldview from within the bastions of the Western worldview and have themselves caused a radical transformation of the Maori worldview, The Church and the universities, the sacred and the profane, not working together but together working towards a similar outcome – transformation..

The influence of anthropologists in the universities, especially Auckland University was crucial in the development of this reinterpreted university Maori worldview. In the 1920s there were George Pitt-Rivers, Felix Keesing, Peter Buck, Apirana Ngata, and Raymond Firth. From the 1950s there was Ralph Piddington at AucklandUniversity and the Beagleholes at VictoriaUniversity.

(See Steven Webster, “Patrons of Maori Culture”, University of Otago Press, 1998, pp 125-127, 157-163).

Essentially they and a complete generation of their Maori and Pakeha students grafted the visible elements of the Maori worldview onto the submerged elements of the Western worldview, making the Maori mind intelligible to the Western mind. Scholarly works and teaching at universities and schools have embedded this re-interpretation of the Maori mind into Maori culture itself, so much so that it is now espoused and taught by Maori to Maori.

One outcome of a long period of ethnological and anthropological reinterpretation both inside and outside the university is the emergence of an ideology, a romantic and nostalgic version of Maoritanga that has taken hold in the universities, and in the Maori mind in general. Paradoxically the ideological version of Maoritanga bears only superficial resemblance to pre-contact Maori culture, and little resemblance to the lives lived by almost all Maori today.

The Church seeks to mould and transform minds to the service of a worldview. Schooling and tertiary education systems have a similar purpose; after all the concept of schooling before it became a universal concept had its roots in the Church. They seek to transform the minds of children, and the stories they believe, into a more advanced form of the prevailing worldview.

There have been many more factors in the transformation of the Maori worldview.

The Western worldview is now the dominant worldview in Aotearoa New Zealand and Maori live within it. However as it gradually evolves from what Skolimowski described as Mechanos to his new Evolutionary Telos the Western worldview seems to be reclaiming some of the pre-agricultural worldview, including some aspects of the pre-colonial Maori worldview. Only time will tell. A prevailing worldview has cultural, philosophical, social, ethnic, religious, political, and economic dimensions and change occurs in all dimensions in different ways and at different rates as worldviews evolve. Those changes are fiercely resisted every step of the way. The final result is impossible to predict.

In time perhaps, as Aotearoa New Zealand moves towards a bicultural or multicultural society, the manifestation of the new worldview or Evolutionary Telos in Aotearoa will become infused with compatible elements of Maori culture, as Maori culture has become infused with elements of Western culture. Perhaps the two will move towards each other, and towards a distinctively bicultural Aotearoa worldview. Perhaps not. Evolution has a habit of doing its own thing in its own time in its own way. Only time will tell. Perhaps the coming Asian millennium will take the evolution of worldviews in an entirely different direction. Whatever the direction it will almost certainly encompass the many new discoveries and the new knowledge of our age, unless religious fundamentalism prevails across the globe and takes us backwards into a new Dark Age, a new Theos.

But we must be optimistic and look forward to a new and exciting dawn; ki te whaiao, ki te ao marama. I have a suspicion that this transition into a new worldview is, and is going to be, more threatening to Pakeha than it is to Maori for we Maori have been in a state of cultural transition and upheaval for 300 years already.

Cosmologist Brian Swimme and cultural historian Thomas Berry describe the new scientific story of the cosmos and evolution of the Earth in terms that illustrate an underlying compatibility that may underpin and lead to whatever new worldview does emerge:

“Through this story we learn that we have a common genetic line of development. Every living being of Earth is cousin to every other living being. Even beyond the realm of the living we have a common origin in the primordial Flaring Forth of the energies from which the universe in all its aspects is derived.”

(“The Universe Story From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era, A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos”, Penguin, London, 1992, p 5).


The symbol of this new evolving worldview is the image of Gaia, representing the hypothesis of the living Earth co-developed by scientist James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s.

Wairarapa tohunga Nepia Pohuhu said much the same thing in the 1860s during one of the last of the traditional whare wananga when he passed on the ancient Maori teaching, and the master idea or premise of an ancient global worldview:

“Kotahi tonu te wairua o nga mea katoa”.

A Pilgrimage to Chartres Cathedral

A Maori at Cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres

When in Europe, which is not often, I visit cathedrals and sometimes attend the mass. I’m not Catholic and not even religious but I love the history, and the art and architecture. I’m not a believer but I enjoy the ancient ritual of the Latin mass for its symbolism and its ability to move the human spirit. The two great artistic gifts of the medieval Church in Europe are the Cathedral and the Gregorian chant.

My second favourite cathedral is Notre Dame de Paris. My favourite is Chartres. At 9.00am each Sunday you can attend the Gregorian mass in Chartres Cathedral. It is an uplifting experience even for the unbeliever.

The Cathedral of our Lady of Chartres is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has the only set of stained glass windows in Europe to survive almost intact through the many wars from the time they were installed. Chartres is 80 kilometres southwest of Paris, just a short train trip. The cathedral is just a short walk from the station.

Chartres old town is on a hill overlooking the surrounding countryside. The cathedral dominates the hill and as you approach the city you can see from afar the majestic cathedral with its twin spires reaching towards the heavens. The pilgrims of many generations saw this as a symbolic pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to the New or Heavenly Jerusalem represented on Earth by the cathedral. The cathedral’s architecture atop a high hill with its high vaulted roof and tall spires embodies the notion of the Heavenly Jerusalem. The cathedral itself is the Heavenly Jerusalem, at least symbolically. The pilgrims come to the New Jerusalem to pray, to seek redemption or absolution, to renew their faith and to marvel at its beauty. This pilgrim came just to marvel at its beauty and to bathe in the reflected glory of times long past.

In the keeping of the cathedral is its most famous relic the Sancta Camisa, said to be the tunic worn by the Virgin Mary at Christ’s birth. It was gifted to Chartres in 876 by King Charles the Bald (823-877). There are other relics in the cathedral, including bones, said to be the remains of saints. Relics are important for they draw pilgrims to view them and to pray to those saints to intercede with God on behalf of the prayerful. The more important and famous the relic, such as the Sancta Camisa, the more powerful the saint symbolically and physically resident in the cathedral, the more pilgrims are drawn to the cathedral and its city, and the richer both cathedral and city. The Sancta Camisa is on permanent display in the northeast chapel in a modern glass fronted reliquary.

From the 12th century onwards Chartres Cathedral and the Sancta Camisa became one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in all of Europe, much as the Camino de Compostela pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain has become today.

The cathedrals were also the sites of the palaces of bishops, the princes of the Church, and each bishopric was a business. The palace alongside Chartres Cathedral is opulent. At the most important of the cathedrals the presiding bishop amassed great wealth. In their heyday the bishops of Chartres were very wealthy indeed. The immediate area of the cathedral was much like the Vatican is today, a small city within the city in which the bishop reigned supreme, much as the Bishop of Rome today reigns supreme in the Vatican City.

One can imagine the excitement of pilgrims when they first saw the cathedral spires glistening in the sunlight in the distance after weeks or even months of pilgrimage, most often on foot. And how that excitement would have built in the days it took to get to Chartres after the first sighting. And on reaching the New Jerusalem, although physically exhausted, how spiritually uplifted and ecstatic the pilgrim might have felt.

My friends Ben and Jenny once walked the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from northern France right across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela in the west of Spain, a walk of 30 to 40 days. I admire them greatly. This modern pilgrim arrived at Chartres by train. In a modern secular sense I felt something of the excitement and ecstasy of the pilgrims of old, or imagined I did, on arriving at the doors of the cathedral. In this modern age if you arrive on the Saturday evening before the Sunday Gregorian mass you will witness a light show. The cathedral and other historic and heritage buildings in the old town are all part of the show.

On first arriving at the cathedral we went to book a guided tour and after a short wait with a group of other pilgrims cum tourists our guide Malcolm Miller appeared. Providence had intervened to make this pilgrimage complete! Malcolm was a 72 year old Englishman who had in his youth travelled to Chartres to research and write his thesis on the cathedral. He fell in love with the cathedral and its city and never left, staying to become a leading authority on cathedrals in general and Chartres Cathedral in particular. He had been awarded two knighthoods by the French government for his contribution to the arts, “Chevalier de l’Orde National du Merite” and “Chevalier de l’Orde des Arts et des Lettres”. He was not just a guide. He was an expert, an author of books about the cathedral and a gifted teacher. He sat us down and set about teaching us how to understand the history, the architecture and the stories the cathedral has to tell. He seemed to enjoy the experience as much as we did.

As one approaches the cathedral the most obvious architectural features are the twin spires and the stone flying buttresses that look like giant spiders’ legs propping up the walls of the cathedral, which is exactly what they do. Those buttresses take the weight of the walls which no longer need to provide the full structural strength of the building. They allowed the architects to build higher walls and to open up the walls and fill them with stained glass windows so that they appear, like the walls of the Heavenly Jerusalem, to be ‘garnished with all manner of precious stones’ (Revelations, 21:19.20).

One first approaches the cathedral from the West and enters through the Royal Portal and the West Door. Above the West Door are three 12th century stained glass lancet windows; the Jesse Tree, the Incarnation and the Passion and Resurrection. High above them is the large round 12th century West Rose window depicting Christ’s second coming as judge, or the Last Judgement.

Enter through the West Door and laid out on the nave floor inside is the Labyrinth, an ancient and multicultural symbol adopted by Christianity and quite popular until the 17th and 18th centuries. The Labyrinth is like a maze laid out on the floor with a start on the outer edge facing the West Door and a pathway leading around and around to the centre. In earlier times pilgrims would walk or crawl through the Labyrinth until they reached the centre. That journey through the Labyrinth symbolized the journey from birth to the door of the Heavenly Jerusalem. The Labyrinth at Chartres has often been referred to as “the Journey to Jerusalem”. In other cultures it symbolized the journey from birth to death but in Christian culture there is life after death beyond the door of the Heavenly Jerusalem.

The distance between the West Door and the Labyrinth is almost the same as that between the West Door and the West Rose high above. If the west façade of the cathedral were laid down upon the nave floor the rose window would fall almost exactly upon the Labyrinth.

Malcolm Miller told us of the time he was in the cathedral when a frail old man with a walking stick came in through the West Door and stood in the centre of the Labyrinth. The old man looked at him and asked “Où est le Dieu? Where is God?”  At that very moment the sun shone through the centre of the West Rose window and lighted upon the old man in the centre of the Labyrinth. Miller answered “Voilà! There he is!”  His question answered the old man left.

The stained glass windows are the outstanding feature of Chartres Cathedral. Along with the stone statuary on both the inside and outside of the walls they are a book that tells the stories of the Old and New Testaments. The cathedral is the Heavenly Jerusalem. It is also a Bible. In medieval times when most believers were illiterate this was their Bible.

Malcolm Miller took us around the cathedral pointing out the bible stories told by each window and each statue. The statues on the inside and outside exactly match the windows and tell the same stories, but in stone rather than glass. And although the statues are many and magnificent in their own right it is the windows that hold your complete attention, for they are absolutely beautiful examples of medieval craftsmanship. They have all been cleaned and restored to their original state of artistic perfection. There are many windows that include:

  • ·        the Blue Virgin Window;
  • ·        the Symbolic Window of the Redemption;
  • ·        the Joseph Window;
  • ·        the Noah Window;
  • ·        the John the Divine Window;
  • ·        the Mary Magdalene Window;
  • ·        the Good Samaritan and Adam and Eve Window;
  • ·        the Assumption Window;
  • ·        the Life of Mary Window;
  • ·        the Zodiac Signs Window;
  • ·        the Charlemagne Window;
  • ·        the Parable of the Prodigal Son Window;
  • ·        the North Rose Window; and South Rose Window;
  • ·        and many others.

As we went he also pointed out the architectural innovations that made Chartres a leading example in its day. This cathedral must surely have represented one of the high points in European art and architecture. The layout of the cathedral was also mind boggling with each part of the very complex plan playing a specific role in the life of the cathedral.

All too soon the tour and lecture ended. But our teacher had whetted the appetite for more and so it was that we bought and read his books, and went again to wander around the cathedral and learn more, and sometimes just to sit in the midst of all that beauty and history and to quietly reflect.

A Gregorian mass in a cathedral is even more inspiring than the cathedral itself. The people, the music and the ritual, at once both solemn and joyous,  bring the cathedral to life. The beautiful voices of the chanted mass soar high into the ceiling of the cathedral, and into the spires, and seemingly onwards to the Heavenly Jerusalem where perhaps the saints are inspired to intercede with God on behalf of the worshipful. Every Sunday at 9.00am at Chartres.

I came away with Malcolm Miller’s books, a small Chartres Cathedral medallion, a bedside lamp with a beautiful stained glass lampshade, memories to last a lifetime, and hope for a return visit before the end of that lifetime.

Though the pilgrimage ends and you leave Chartres and journey home from the Heavenly Jerusalem to your everyday existence Chartres Cathedral never leaves you. Whether believer or unbeliever your life is forever changed in great or small ways. And that I suppose is the purpose of pilgrimage.

In a future essay “Hikoi ki Hawaiki” I shall write of a pilgrimage to Eastern Polynesia and to Taputapuatea Marae on Ra’iatea.

I have often reflected on the architecture and art of the modern whare whakairo. Its architecture is certainly inspired by ecclesiastic architecture; without the Maori embellishment it looks much like a church. In one rohe in particular there are carved pou alongside the whare that closely resemble the Christian cross. Sir Apirana Ngata was the prime mover behind the revival of traditional Maori art, including the carved and otherwise embellished meeting house. He was of course a staunch Anglican and it is not by chance that the buildings themselves are modeled on the church. Coincidentally or otherwise the embellishment in whakairo, tukutuku and kowhaiwhai also tells a story, most often the story of the hapu that built the whare.

The original Rangiatea Church at Otaki, the church at Tikitiki and the chapel at Hukarere all carved and embellished in the Maori tradition, come quite close to the concept of the European cathedral.

In this modern era when most of the people have dispersed to the four winds the marae and its whare whakairo have become pilgrimage destinations for the dispersed where they seek to reunite with their land, their people, their stories, their history and their identity, and to seek renewal.

E haere atu na, titiro tonu mai nga kanohi.

The Treaty of Waitangi Revisited

The Treaty, Maori development and the Constitution


For the last 45 years the Treaty of Waitangi has been the central icon, or pou whakapono, in Maori political discourse and action. It was one of the rallying pou for political activism from the 1960s to the 1990s.

The Treaty attained political standing and limited legal standing with the passage of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 which established the Waitangi Tribunal and empowered it to investigate contemporary grievances and claims. Many Maori misunderstood the political recognition that some grievances needed to be settled via a legal or quasi-legal process for legal recognition of the Treaty itself. The Tribunal’s mandate was extended in 1985 to allow it to accept claims dating back to 1840. In that largely political and limited legal incarnation it came to underpin most Maori social and economic development initiatives, and almost all claims to settle historical grievances.

The Treaty has undergone many transformations in the way we regard it. At the moment we are having a conversation about whether it should form part of the Constitution (as entrenched supreme law). The constitutional advisory panel is considering the place of the Treaty in the New Zealand Constitution.  The questions arising in the conversation so far about the Treaty include:

  • What will happen once all historical Treaty grievances are settled?
  • Should the Treaty be entrenched?

This essay questions the prevailing mindset about the Treaty of Waitangi. E hika ma, you may not like what I have to say but stay with me and together let’s explore another viewpoint. Instead of just accepting the common view or the prevailing paradigm I think that we should from time to time take a close look at our beliefs, and the premises and assumptions underlying them. Sometimes we do confirm our beliefs, but disturbingly sometimes we realise we have just gone along with the crowd and that perhaps the crowd is wrong, or even that we are going along with the wrong crowd.

So let’s take another look at our Treaty.

A treaty is a form of contract usually between sovereign nations but in this case between a sovereign nation (Britain) on the one hand and the chiefs of many hapu on the other. In 1840 when it was signed it was a political and diplomatic document that served to legitimise the British presence in Aotearoa and purported to confer upon Maori the benefits of becoming British subjects. Some who signed it were sceptical, many were not. Many did not sign it.

There has been much contemporary speculation about the reason so many chiefs signed the Treaty and some have even stated that they didn’t really know what they were signing. Some have said that they had just a week or less to consider its implications. However I lean towards the opinion expressed by the late Wi Kuki Kaa in Te Putatara 5/90 of 21st May 1990:

“I resent the implication that the Kahui Ariki at Waitangi 1840 didnt quite know what they were about. E hika ma! They werent dumb; they were learned men, products of missionary education. They wanted, because they needed it, a document to create some form of law and order: to protect themselves from the rapaciousness of the re-settlers whose material goods had helped to improve their standard of living; but also from those of us in the Tai Rawhiti and elsewhere still smarting from the humiliations inflicted on us by Cyclone Hongi, Cyclone Pomare or Cyclone Patuone.

“The Tai Tokerau people were becoming prosperous – a situation which only thrives in a climate of peace.

“The re-settlers especially the missionaries also needed the Treaty in order to legitimise their pieces of real estate recently acquired; by hook, crook, or holy book. Nobody is going to convince me that the aims of the Confederation (Kotahitanga) were forgotten from 1835 until 1840. Ko te kai a te rangatira, he korero. So you need less than half a wit to realise that the arguments went on at hui for years, culminating in that fateful day in February 1840”.

Despite contemporary debate over its exact meaning, whether in English or Maori, it was basically a political power sharing agreement between the British and quite a few but not all chiefs of hapu. The powers to be shared and how they were to be shared were probably deliberately left open to interpretation. Formal agreements between nations with different worldviews are difficult to formalise in detail, and are often vague and open to interpretation, indicating intention to engage rather than detailed agreement.

As with the many modern diplomatic and political agreements between protagonists in the Middle East the devil is in the detail and they always unravel over the details or when political circumstances change.

Much contemporary scholarship and debate has been over the exact meaning of the Treaty rather than its original political intent. Contemporary scholarship and debate has often attempted to infer exact application to a great many contemporary issues. Therefore in contemporary times there have been hundreds of different interpretations of the intent of the document, depending on the political or economic aims of the interpreter. For a time it seemed that every Maori or Maori organisation with a grievance about anything and everything called upon the Treaty to impose obligations on the government of the day and to legitimise preferred solutions to their grievances.

The Treaty debate and process has certainly served the political aims of Maori, or some Maori, for the time being anyway, but it hasn’t greatly influenced the social and economic well being of most Maori and it doesn’t tell us much about it’s future.

Political agreements, both formal and informal, remain in force only until they no longer serve the purposes of one of the partners to the agreement. They do not stand for all time. They are agreements of convenience at the time they are negotiated.

And that is exactly the history of the Treaty of Waitangi. It is arguable that the Treaty might not have served the purposes of all Maori from the very beginning even though it was signed by and served the purposes of many chiefs, the northern chiefs in the first instance. However as soon as it no longer served the purposes of the British, after they had mustered sufficient population and military power to govern in their own right without the consent of the chiefs, the Treaty was consigned to the back of the cupboard where it became urine stained and chewed by rats.

And there it stayed for many decades.

From time to time Maori attempted to resurrect the Treaty mostly in relation to disputes over the alienation of land. The Government, now ruling in its own right without meaningful Maori participation, ignored them. The courts declared the Treaty to be no longer valid or no longer living. If the exercise of power on behalf of its primary constituency is what government is, then that was probably a legitimate political stance. It may not have been morally defensible from the Maori point of view but political reality often abjures the moral when it is inconvenient. That’s not just a Pakeha trait. It would have been equally true of inter-hapu political life in traditional Maori society. We too held to our agreements only so long as they served our own purposes.

So in the interim while the Treaty kept company with the rats in the cupboard Maori did indeed keep it alive but it was a one-sided treaty by then and one-sided treaties have no force either in law or in political engagement.

The balance can only be resurrected or restored through the weight of numbers or through political or military action. That did not happen until 1975 when the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 was made law, sponsored by Matiu Rata after over a decade of political activism, demonstration and networking had gained for Maori sufficient political support and moral suasion to resurrect the Treaty in limited form. Even so that was a political resurrection with very limited legal force.

The present constitutional conversation is about whether or not it should acquire legal force.

Our need to resurrect the Treaty is driven by our relative lack of political power more than anything else. If we had the political power we wouldn’t need the Treaty. Nor would we need to talk about the Treaty in a constitutional conversation.

However during that period around 1975 and in the two decades following the passage of that Act, the Treaty was transformed in the rhetoric of activist Maori from a fraud under the mantra “The Treaty is a Fraud” to the status of kawenata tapu, a sacred living covenant under the mantra “Honour the Treaty”.

As a result of that burst of political activity the “principles” of the Treaty have found their way into legislation and into a great many of the affairs of the nation. Treaty activism has been the foundation for hundreds of millions of dollars of grievance settlements and in that sense the Treaty continues to financially speak.

Many lists of Treaty principles have been devised by the Waitangi Tribunal and in the courts. In 1989 Labour government became the first New Zealand government to set out principles to guide its actions on matters relating to the treaty.

Those principles were:

  • the government has the right to govern and make laws
  • iwi have the right to organise as iwi, and, under the law, to control their resources as their own
  • all New Zealanders are equal before the law
  • both the government and iwi are obliged to accord each other reasonable cooperation on major issues of common concern
  • the government is responsible for providing effective processes for the resolution of grievances in the expectation that reconciliation can occur.

The principles found their way into some legislation and guided government action, or inaction, in relation to the Treaty itself. However they are a rather weak statement of democratic principles that are found with much more clarity and force in the NZ Bill of Rights which itself has not yet been entrenched as supreme constitutional law.

The Waitangi Tribunal has formulated another set of principles including:

  • the principle of partnership;
  • the principle of active protection (of Maori interests);
  • the principle of redress for historical wrongs.

Within those principles the Tribunal has described a number of duties the Crown should observe. The acceptance of the Tribunal’s principles and duties is however a matter of political agreement at any given time by the incumbent government. To date governments have mostly accepted them and have been actively engaged in reaching settlement agreements. That process however will surely come to an end.

This year a government appointed constitutional advisory panel is consulting with the public on the place of the Treaty of Waitangi in the constitutional arrangements of New Zealand. That conversation has been sponsored by the Maori Party through its political support of the National Party in government; an exercise in political influence.

Was it the Treaty itself that brought us to this state of political balance, or was it the exercise of political influence that did it. Could not the same balance have been achieved through the common law and international law with the same exercise of political influernce by Maori. It’s a moot point but not really relevant given that the Treaty was the pou whakapono which gave focus to the political struggle. It serves our political purpose to raise the Treaty to the status of kawenata tapu.

But is that its true intrinsic value. Is it not just a convenient pou whakapono, albeit a very useful pou whakapono.

Consider this. If Maori had retained superior population numbers from 1840 until the present day and if today we were now 75% of the population or even just 51% of the population how would we now view the Treaty of Waitangi. Would we not have consigned it to the back of the pataka, hei kai mo nga kiore, and left it there even if our treaty partner agitated for its resurrection, a one sided treaty. Of course we would have. We would have totally ignored the Treaty. That’s politics and in politics the losers lose. But we were the losers so for us the Treaty lives.

So it’s not intrinsically tapu or intrinsically constitutional. Its value and status depends entirely on both partners acting in agreement. It will never be accorded the status of a constitutional founding document unless and until both partners reach political consensus. The Treaty is such a sensitive public issue anyway that consensus will require a referendum before any legislation, and to entrench it as constitutional law will require 75% of the Parliament to consent.

It is now as it was in 1840, a convenient political document, but this time convenient for the Maori partner. And only time will tell how long it remains so. I don’t see it making its way into the constitution any time soon.

Constitutionally I would prefer that the Bill of Rights be entrenched as Supreme Law rather than the Treaty of Waitangi. It would powerfully serve to curb the excesses of government and to preserve democracy for all.

Notwithstanding my view of the future of the Treaty it will be with us for some time yet. Many political, bureaucratic, academic, legal and corporate iwi careers have been built upon the Treaty of Waitangi over the last 25 years. The elites have a vested interest in maintaining the very useful fiction of the Treaty as the forever speaking founding document of the nation, and even as kawenata tapu.

Meanwhile the social and economic well being of most Maori remains unaffected and untouched by the Treaty of Waitangi in either its original or contemporary interpretation.

E hika ma, that wasn’t too bad was it? Have you changed your mind about the Treaty?


Previous constitutional essays:
Does a constitution protect and promote democracy
Let’s talk democracy
Abolish the Pakeha seats

Follow @Putatara on Twitter

Maori TV – finding a new CEO

It’s difficult to know what the real story is at Maori TV.

The media campaign seems to be led by John Drinnan at the NZ Herald and it has been politicised in Parliament by Clare Curran, MP for Dunedin South, with Shane Jones weighing in as well. Some “iwi” interests that want to divert funding from the TV Service to “iwi” TV might be mixed up in the saga as well.

Crown appointed Board member Ian Taylor has resigned over the issue. There’s nothing unusual about that. When you disagree with board process or decisions you either win your argument, gracefully accept defeat, or resign. Happens all the time.

On the other hand Maori TV staff have joined the public fray, or perhaps caused it  by petitioning to block the appointment of Paora Maxwell. It seems obvious that members of the staff have been feeding the media and perhaps the Labour Party.

It is reported that Carol Hirschfeld, Mike Rehu, Paora Maxwell and Richard Jefferies applied and that Maxwell and Jefferies were the two finalists. The Board was divided between the two. That’s not an unusual situation, except that the mischief makers have muddied the waters by implying that the process was somehow invalid because of a mentoring-type relationship between Maxwell and Board chair Georgina Te Heuheu, who took him under her “Aunty Georgy” wing a long time ago. The board itself has said that all conflicts of interest were declared as part of the process. The shortlisting proccess was overseen by the deputy chair so Georgina’s declared interest should not have influenced Maxwell’s selection to the final list.

The conflict of interest of one board member, even if that is the chairperson, is easily dealt with according to standard procedures. It should not be a problem at all. There were six other members of the board before Taylor’s resignation.

The Maori TV board members are Georgina Te Heuheu (Chair), Cathy Dewes, Piripi Walker, Rikirangi Gage, Tahu Potiki (Deputy Chair), Donna Gardiner and Ian Taylor (up to his resignation). Georgina, Donna and Taylor are Crown appointees. That’s a fairly impressive lineup well able to make the right decision. So if they were unable there must have been good reasons for that. One good reason is that it seems they were trying to reach a unanimous decision. Well anyone who has done anything in Te Ao Maori (and in Te Ao Pakeha) knows that unanimity is very very difficult. Good luck.

On the surface it looks like a choice between a broadcaster (Maxwell) with limited management experience and a manager (Jefferies) with no broadcasting experience. The outgoing CEO was certainly not a broadcaster and under his stewardship MTS flourished. If a broadcaster is appointed he or she must have strong management credentials, or must have a strong management team around him or her. No doubt there are also considerations about Te Reo revitalisation and promotion.

What usually happens when a board cannot decide on an appointment is that you start the process again and interview the other applicants and/or call for new applications. It is better to start again than to compromise on an appointment. After all the whole board has to be able to work with the CEO. So whatever the reasons for the standoff the proper process is to start again.

No doubt the media and politicians are not revealing all that they know, or think they know, but who cares. There are often issues with senior appointments particularly in a small country like New Zealand where everyone in a certain field knows everyone else.

Board conflict over senior appointments is commonplace and is usually resolved out of the glare of the media and free of political interference. What we need is for the best possible person to be appointed CEO of Maori TV to take it through the next phase of its journey. The board were unable to decide so they should start again. There’s nothing unusual about that despite what we are being told.

Shane Jones and the Labour Leadership

I could be wrong, but …..

Politics is tribal. National is a tribe. Labour is a tribe. And they are not Maori tribes or anything remotely resembling Maori tribes, they are mainstream mostly Pakeha political tribes. And that distinction seems to be lost on all those Maori rooting for Shane Jones to become Labour leader. He hasn’t got a hope. Deputy leader perhaps if Labour thinks that might bring back all the Maori seats without losing Pakeha support in its electoral base.

You get to the top of Labour’s greasy pole firstly by building your own hapu within the hapu matua so that your hapu outnumbers all of the others. Some do it over whiskeys during late night male bonding sessions, some do it by trading favours and making promises they might or might not keep, some just by being nice guys, some by being bastards, some through their ability to attack and inflict damage on the opposing tribe, some through superior intelligence and competence, and a thousand other ways of manipulating the numbers. The ones who usually make it to the top of the pile use all or most of the above. Those who make it to the top without putting in the hard yards usually don’t stay there for long. Shane hasn’t put in enough of the hard yards.

Koro Wetere was a master. In his day Koro commanded the largest vote in the caucus when Cabinets were elected and was the first into Cabinet. But even with that huge support he was never a contender for leader or deputy leader. It took more than popularity. Parekura Horomia was a master, personable and hugely popular. Yet he was never a contender for leader or deputy leader. But popularity is a good place to start.

Shane Jones will never be as popular in a Labour caucus as those two. He starts behind the eight ball and like Cunliffe will have to get there despite his limited popularity. Which means he will have to work even harder and demonstrate superior political ability to get the numbers.

You don’t get to the top of Labour’s greasy pole because you’re Maori, and because heaps of Maori think it’s time a Maori did lead Labour after generations of loyal Maori support at the ballot box.. You get to the top of the pole because your caucus colleagues think you are the best electable potential prime minister they have, and if you lead them to victory you will keep them in power. You get to the top also because you promise to put your supporters on the front bench and that comes back to the numbers.

The traditional voting Labour support base was in the working class and their trade unions. That traditional base has eroded and much of it has gravitated to NZ First and National. It always had a large very conservative element. Much of it was and remains racist and anti-Maori. The modern support base now includes the educated liberal and progressive elites who vacillate between Labour and the Greens. To win elections Labour must somehow appeal to both sides of its constituency.

Political parties mostly win elections because the electorate gets fed up or bored with the other lot but they still have to appeal to the voting constitutency by presenting a credible and electable leader.

Shane is up against it. The conservative Pakeha base will never vote for a Maori prime minister, not yet they won’t, and the liberal Pakeha (and female) base will never vote for someone who presents himself as blokey, and is rightly or wrongly thought to be just a bit sexist. And you have to ask why some of the Maori women in caucus aren’t supporting him.

Shane Jones is in the wrong Pakeha tribe if he wants to be prime minister. He would probably do better in National.

The Hukarere Story 1991 – 1995

The struggle against insurmountable odds to reopen a Maori girls’ school.

“If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” – Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey (1872-1927), preeminent Ghanaian scholar, educator and missionary.

Hukarere in Napier has been known by a few names. When she was started in 1875 she was the Hukarere Native School for Girls, then became Hukarere Girls’ School. After 1969 she became Hukarere Hostel. During the time of this story we knew her simply as Hukarere; we thought that quite elegant. Now in her new phase she is known as Hukarere Girls’ College.

Hukarere’s struggle for survival has for decades been a struggle against male dominance. In 1969 her school was closed to ensure the survival of Te Aute College. Again in 1991 her hostel was closed to ensure the survival of Te Aute College. In both cases it was Te Aute that was in financial crisis and losing money, not Hukarere. However Hukarere triumphed against the odds and in 1993 she was reopened and rededicated as a full school with a boarding option.

The Reopening & Rededication of a School 1993 – 1995

This is a personal memoir of the struggle to reopen and rededicate Hukarere in the closing decade of the 20th Century, nearly 120 years after she was first opened in 1875. It is the inside story that has not been publicly told until now.

I am telling it firstly to place on public record the history of that struggle. Secondly, as with all or most successful community projects there have been many who have claimed the credit and even the main credit for its success. Some were only marginally involved and some not at all. The human mind is so wonderfully adept at constructing narratives of self praise, not entirely based in the facts.

It is also to pay tribute to two Hukarere Old Girls who led the struggle, who recruited me to the cause and who insisted that I join them as a co-conspirator in their quest; Awhina Waaka and Alyson Bullock.

This narrative is a tribute too to the many others who were involved in the struggle, Old Girls, whanau, friends and supporters too numerous to name but they and we know who they were. And to the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust, and to Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa led by the late Rt Rev Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe and Rt Rev Bishop Paraone Turei, without whose moral and financial support Hukarere would have remained closed.

For the many who were immersed in the project in those difficult years the Hukarere struggle defined us. It was all consuming. From it I think we all learned something about ourselves and about the power of vision, faith and commitment.

I have not been involved with Hukarere since about 2000. She survives still although her owners on Te Aute Trust Board placed an intolerable burden upon her a few years ago by offering her property to the bank as security for a very bad investment. I understand that burden remains.

The late Hon Parekura Horomia MP was involved at the time of his death in her latest project to re-erect her beautiful chapel at the new Esk Valley school site. It was first built at the Napier Hill site under the aegis of Sir Apirana Ngata and was one of his last projects. During the struggle to reopen Hukarere the chapel was a quiet welcoming refuge and in many ways was both the physical and spiritual locus of the struggle. The girls of course were always the main focus of our efforts.

What follows was written in 2009.

This Hukarere narrative is based on the records and recollections of the writer alone. A complete picture would require input from Mrs Awhina Waaka and Mrs Alyson Bullock, both of Napier. They may yet write their own memoirs. Both attended Hukarere themselves and were the prime movers in re-opening Hukarere after she was completely closed in 1991.

Te Aute Trust Board Group

To explain the relationships, the Anglican Church’s Te Aute Trust Board owns both Te Aute College at Pukehou and Hukarere Girls’ College at Napier. From about 1995 onwards both Te Aute and Hukarere were members of Te Runanga O Paerangi, a Maori boarding schools collective supported by Ministry of Education.

During the period of this narrative the writer was:

  •  a member of Te Aute Trust Board of the Anglican Church from 1991 to 2000,
  • a member of the Te Aute College Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2000,
  • Chairman of Te Whanau O Hukarere Inc from 1992 to 2000,
  • a member of the Hukarere School Board of Trustees from 1995 to 2000,
  • Chairman of The Hukarere Foundation (a charitable trust) from 1992 to 2000, and
  • Chairman of Te Runanga O Paerangi (Maori Boarding Schools Collective) from 1996 to 2000.

As well as participating in the reopening and rededication of Hukarere, the writer also led a small team that rescued Te Aute College from financial insolvency during the same period from 1991 to 1994.

Types of School

Throughout this narrative the terms private school and integrated school are used. Some explanation is necessary in order to understand the Hukarere reopening process.

A state school is totally owned and funded by the Ministry of Education.

A private school is completely owned and operated by its owner/proprietor. The Ministry of Education pays a grant towards the operation of the school, equal at the time of this story to about 25% of the operating grant paid to a state school. A private school requires approval from Ministry of Education to operate. A private school is generally able to set its own curriculum, within the constraints of the 25% funding agreement with government which requires adherence to the core state curriculum. Its governance and management arrangements are its own business.

An integrated school is owned by its proprietors, in this case the Anglican Church through its Te Aute Trust Board. The Board is responsible for owning and operating the hostels. It also owns the school buildings and is responsible for their upkeep and replacement if necessary. The Ministry of Education pays for and operates the school.

Short History of Hukarere

Both Hukarere Girls’ College and Te Aute College are integrated schools owned by Te Aute Trust Board. Te Aute College was founded in 1851, and Hukarere Native School for Girls in 1875.

In 1969 Hukarere was a private school and was closed ostensibly due to financial difficulties. In fact Hukarere was not losing money but Te Aute College was, and the suspicion among the Hukarere Old Girls is that Hukarere was closed in order to save Te Aute. This closure happened before the Government intervened to integrate and save many private schools from closure. Hukarere continued to function as a hostel, and the girls attended Napier Girls High School for 23 years.

In December 1991 Te Aute Trust Board resolved to close the Hukarere Hostel as well, ostensibly because it was losing money. The suspicion among Hukarere Old Girls was that again it was closed in order to save Te Aute. This seemed to be confirmed by the decision of Te Aute Trust Board and Te Aute College Board of Trustees to make Te Aute a co-educational boarding school, and to transfer girls from the Hukarere Hostel to Te Aute College. In fact Te Aute College was suffering financial difficulties at the time.

The writer was present in December 1991 at Hukarere when the staff, hostel committee, boarders and their whanau were told of the decision to close.

Just over a year later Hukarere was reopened then rededicated on Waitangi Day 1993 as a private school and hostel. It was the first time the school itself had operated since it was closed in 1969 over 23 years earlier. It was then owned and operated as a private school from February 1993 to April 1995 by the Hukarere Foundation (not by Te Aute Trust Board). During the two years and four months that Hukarere was a private school the buildings and grounds on Napier Hill were leased from Te Aute Trust Board by the Hukarere Foundation.

It became an integrated school, with the school’s operations and salaries funded by government, in April 1995. On integration the school and hostel were returned to ownership of Te Aute Trust Board.

Organising to Save Hukarere — 1991/1992

On the day Hukarere Hostel was closed in December 1991 the writer was approached by Mrs Alyson Bullock to join with the Old Girls to try to reopen Hukarere. Alyson was also a member of Te Aute Trust Board, and a member of the Hukarere Hostel Committee, and she had two girls boarding at Hukarere.

I had a personal reason for joining them other than being appalled by the decision to close. My godson’s late mother, Kuini Ellison (nee Smith), who had been one of my early mentors, had been a Hukarere pupil, a member of Te Aute Trust Board and matron of Hukarere Hostel. She was for most of her life a staunch advocate for Hukarere. On the day Hukarere School was closed in 1969 she sat on the steps at Hukarere and wept. The godson told me that his mother would come back to haunt me if I didn’t reopen her school. I reckoned he was right.

As Bishop Brown Turei, Alyson Bullock and myself were all members of the Trust Board we petitioned the Board to allow twelve girls to remain at the hostel under private arrangements so that they could complete their schooling at Napier Girls High School. The request was granted.

The support group called Te Whanau O Hukarere then named those girls Nga Ahi Kaa, to recognize that it was important to keep a full-time presence at Hukarere while it organized to reopen. Throughout 1992 staff and supporters ran the hostel on a voluntary basis, and the girls’ whanau paid fees to cover the reduced running costs. However a number of the other Hukarere girls transferred to Te Aute College at the beginning of 1992.

Te Whanau O Hukarere

Te Whanau O Hukarere comprising Old Girls, boarders and their whanau, supporters and friends, then conducted a series of hui at Napier to garner support for an effort to reopen both school and hostel. In about August/September 1992 a formal resolution was passed to reopen Hukarere School and Hostel. The resolution was supported by the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust, all descendants of the two Bishops Williams.

A formal resolution appointed two Old Girls, Awhina Waaka and Alyson Bullock, and myself (Ross Himona), with the full executive authority of Te Whanau O Hukarere to reopen Hukarere by whatever means possible. That resolution was signed on behalf of Te Whanau O Hukarere by Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe (Bishop of Aotearoa), Bishop Brown Turei (Bishop of Te Tai Rawhiti) and Bishop Murray Mills (Bishop of Waiapu).

Late in 1992 I registered Te Whanau O Hukarere Inc as an incorporated society. I was appointed Chairman and held the appointment until 2000.

Hukarere Foundation

Late in 1992 also the Hukarere Foundation was registered as a charitable trust to facilitate fundraising and to gain tax free status for the intended school and hostel. Three trustees were appointed; Awhina Waaka, Alyson Bullock and myself. I was appointed Chair of the Foundation (by the two women).

Negotiating with Te Aute Trust Board and Te Aute College – 1992

From September to December 1992 we three negotiated with Te Aute Trust Board and Te Aute College to allow Hukarere to reopen as an outpost of Te Aute College in February 1993.

We also conferred regularly with a very supportive Ministry of Education, through its Lower Hutt regional office. The Ministry was able to advise on the various options for reopening Hukarere. One option they presented was to open as a private school with a hostel, and then to negotiate with the Ministry and with Te Aute Trust Board to convert to an integrated school.

At a meeting at Te Aute College in early December 1992 both Te Aute Trust Board and Te Aute College emphatically rejected the request to operate as an outpost of Te Aute College.

We had anticipated rejection and I immediately proposed to the Trust Board that Hukarere Foundation lease the Hukarere grounds and buildings with a view to opening a private school. The lease offer of $1.00 per annum was accepted by Te Aute Trust Board on the recommendation of the Board’s Secretary/Treasurer on the basis that it was costing the Board $50,000 pa in holding costs and that a lease for $1 would save the Board $49,999 pa. The $1 coin was rolled across the boardroom table.

At that point most of the trustees of Te Aute Trust Board probably did not believe that the Hukarere Foundation would be successful.

Application to Reopen Hukarere as a Private School

However at about midday on Christmas Eve 1992 I delivered a fully prepared application to operate a private school to the Lower Hutt regional office of Ministry of Education. It included a full curriculum plan prepared by Awhina.

The regional manager had agreed to wait in his office for the application to be delivered, and also undertook to process the application as quickly as possible. Approval of the application required the agreement of the Minister.

Reopening Hukarere as a Private School — 1993 to 1995

A few weeks later in mid to late January 1993 the Ministry of Education issued a formal approval to operate Hukarere as a private school with attached hostel. The notification was received at Hukarere a few days later. The approval contained a requirement to complete certain building works in order to comply with Ministry regulations.

The approval named Awhina Waaka, Alyson Bullock and Ross Himona as owners, operators and managers of Hukarere School. We three actually owned Hukarere for just over two years.

We set the opening date for Monday 1st February 1993, just ten days after receiving approval, and the official opening ceremony and celebration was to be held five days later on Waitangi Day 6th February 1993.

The approval had been anticipated and arrangements for the classroom block to be refurbished to minimal Ministry of Education requirements and brought up to minimal OSH standard had been made. After consultation with Bishop Vercoe, who agreed to fund the $96,000 needed for the work, the refurbishment began immediately approval was received from Ministry of Education. It was completed shortly before the opening ceremony and celebration.

Within Hukarere Foundation the three trustees agreed that Awhina Waaka would be Curriculum Director, Alyson Bullock would be Hostel Director, and Ross Himona would be Finance & Business Director. Alyson Bullock took annual leave to act as Hostel Matron until a permanent matron could be appointed. The outgoing hostel matron agreed to stay on for a short period to help. Hukarere could not afford to appoint a principal and Awhina Waaka fulfilled that role for over two years, in addition to her job at the Education Review Office.

We agreed that all decisions would be taken unanimously by the three directors when all were present, but that as all three of us had full-time jobs and it would not be possible for all three to be present most of the time, whoever was on-site would make all necessary decisions across all areas, The other two would unconditionally support whatever decisions were made in their absence. Consequently all three of us acted as Curriculum Director (Principal), Hostel Director (Matron) and Finance & Business Director from time to time. Contrary to what a few thought we were not paid either then or later.

Four teachers, one hostel supervisor and a cook were hired, and given just ten days to prepare both school and hostel to open.

The Opening

Hukarere was reopened as a private school and hostel as scheduled on 1st February 1993 and rededicated on Waitangi Day 1993. At the insistence of the two Old Girls on the team the keynote speech at the rededication was delivered by the writer and is attached. The school opened with a small number of pupils, many of whom had been members of Nga Ahi Kaa who remained at Hukarere throughout 1992.

Funding a Private School

On opening day Hukarere Foundation had a negative balance in its accounts.

Church Funding and Support

After the opening ceremony the writer was called to Bishop Turei’s office to meet with Bishop Vercoe. He asked how much the Foundation was in debt and on being told the opening debt was about $36,000 he handed over a signed blank cheque to cover the deficit. That was on top of the $96,000 Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa had paid to refurbish the classroom block.

At a later date Te Kahui Wahine O Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa (through Mrs Doris Vercoe and Mrs Mihi Turei) provided a loan of $50,000. It was later repaid.

The St John’s College Trust bursaries were paid to Hukarere. They were initially worth a total of $50,000 pa reducing later to $30,000 pa.

Te Pihopatanga O Te Tai Rawhiti and Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa worked closely with Hukarere Foundation. Ministry was of course provided by Bishop Turei, Archdeacon Joe Akuhata-Brown and local minita-a-iwi. Bishop Turei’s whanau was also intimately involved and they gave unstintingly of their time and expertise.

Boarding fees were charged for the pupils but the balance of the costs of the hostel, and most of the costs of the school were covered by fundraising until the school was integrated in April 1995, a period of two years and four months.

Koha — Cash and Kind

For the whole of that period Hukarere was funded mostly by koha of cash and kind. The Foundation’s bankers were sympathetic and allowed a generous if not large overdraft.

Much of the curricular and non-curricular activity was provided by volunteers. Some local teachers taught classes in their spare time, and members of Te Whanau O Hukarere relieved in the hostel when required. Community volunteers (including the NZ Police Youth Aid officer) ran various extra-curricular programs including sport. Medical and nursing coverage was provided free of charge.

The Maori Wardens were provided with a patrol base at Hukarere, and they patrolled the dormitories and grounds from time to time every night to ensure that the girls stayed in and the boys stayed out. The Wardens also came to know all of the girls and were able to pick up those who broke out of dorm and were seen at parties and other places.

Te Taiwhenua O Te Whanganui-A-Orutu, the local branch of Te Runanganui O Ngati Kahungunu rallied behind the cause and provided much voluntary assistance.

Many businesses also provided assistance. Tradesmen reduced their charges, Carter Holt provided building materials at cost, Levenes provided paint below cost, and all suppliers were generous in approving credit facilities over an extended period. A nearby gymnasium agreed to provide their facilities at a charge of just $1 per girl per visit. A local supplier of electronic office equipment sourced good quality second hand equiipment for us and installed it at cost.

Service groups such as Rotary and Lions took on projects to help Hukarere. The Presbyterian Ladies Auxiliary ran cake stalls to raise funds.

Napier City Council provided free library facilities in a special section within the Napier Public Library, including buying books specifically for use by Hukarere. The Council also provided free access to all of its sporting facilities.

The marine scientists at the National Aquarium on the Napier Foreshore provided part of the science curriculum and involved the girls in their onshore and offshore projects with dolphins and seals. Massey University donated a quantity of laboratory equipment for the science programme. Various schools donated books and other classroom resources.

Food for the hostel was provided at reduced rates by local suppliers and from a number of other sources.

Moteo Marae collected all of the scraps from the Hukarere kitchen for their pigs. In return they raised pigs for Hukarere. Local orchardists and market gardeners provided good quality seconds free of charge. A local fishing company occasionally donated kaimoana. Whanau also contributed whenever they could. The writer would sometimes return from visits to Waikaremoana with a boot full of donated trout and venison.

Many others not mentioned above provided cash and kind.

Major Funders

Throughout the whole period the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust were very supportive providing grants as they were able, and helping the Hukarere Foundation to cover some major expenditure at critical times. The reopening of Hukarere would not have been possible without them.

After the Trust Board and Ministry of Education decided in March 1995 to integrate Hukarere, the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust and other members of the Williams whanau took me aside. They told me that they had not been funding Hukarere, or a project, or Maori gilrs’ education; but that they had been funding the vision, faith and commitment of three people. We three were of course supported by a large number of other volunteers who subscribed totally to the vision, faith and commitment that drove the project.

Other Funds

At financially crucial times two residential sections owned by Hukarere were sold, against our better instincts, but without those sales survival was not assured. One sale was necessary to pay $90,000 for the removal of asbestos from the Hukarere buildings. Without that Hukarere would have been closed before integration could be achieved.

As a private school Hukarere received operating funding from Ministry of Education equivalent to 25% of the operating grant to state and integrated schools.

Funding Priorities

Throughout the whole of the period as a private school the main financial priority was to provide food for the girls and salaries for the paid staff. Every cent of expenditure was rigidly scrutinised before being approved.

Consequently there was very little money available for classroom resources, including class sets of books. The teachers were required to develop innovative strategies to compensate, and they coped magnificently. Notwithstanding the financial constraints Hukarere did manage to slowly acquire a range of resources for the classrooms.

The Foundation missed paying salaries only once, and then only for about five days until funds were raised. On one other occasion there was no money in the accounts on the eve of a payday but the necessary $12,000 was raised overnight.

As is normal in boarding schools the girls complained often about not having enough food but they were weighed periodically as part of the medical service to Hukarere. None lost weight and most put on weight.

The Hukarere Business Manager

Late in 1992 Hukarere Foundation hired Mr. Des Lanigan, a staunch Presbyterian and a retired banker, as business manager. He served in that capacity through the private school period and for a few more years after integration.

His was an enormous contribution in closely managing the Hukarere finances, building and maintaining an excellent relationship with Hukarere’s bankers and with the Napier business community, and personally overseeing a great deal of the fundraising.

 A Dilemma — Insolvency

By August 1994 Hukarere Foundation was technically insolvent and owed about $250,000. We three trustees were under considerable stress and in danger of losing a large part of our collective private assets, mainly homes.

Awhina Waaka left for a short holiday in Australia and told Alyson and myself that she would support whatever decisions we made. We met at Hukarere to decide what to do. After studying the financial situation in detail we concluded that whilst there was a large deficit on one side of the ledger, there was still faith & hope & prayer on the other.

We decided to continue whatever the consequences. Remarkably the debt was cleared within six months.

The Total Cost

The total cost of opening and operating Hukarere until it was integrated has never been calculated. The full cost would take into account the funds raised, the value of koha in cash and kind, and the voluntary performance of many duties that would normally be paid as part of the operating costs of a school and hostel.

The actual cost would amount to several million dollars.

And even though that was enough to reopen Hukarere as a private school, and later to see her integrated, the real capital costs of opening a school whose buildings and teaching facilities fully complied with Ministry of Education standards were only deferred.

Academic Performance as a Private School

The school roll gradually increased over the first two years as a private school to about 50 pupils. In both of those years Hukarere was inspected by the Education Review Office (ERO) and received excellent reports, although the curriculum was quite limited. ERO also commented favourably on the organization of Hukarere into four whanau, in which managers, teachers, non-teaching staff, parents and whanau participated with the pupils. Each whanau was led by elected pupil leaders. It was not just a whanau concept but a total school concept.

Integration – 1995

The goal was always to integrate Hukarere so that the full operating costs and salaries of the school (but not the hostel) would be met by the Ministry of Education. To do that the Te Aute Trust Board had to agree and the Minister of Education had to approve integration.

The mainly male Trust Board was initially not willing to take on the role of Proprietor of another school other than Te Aute College. The trustees would have to be convinced but in the meantime Hukarere Foundation opened negotiations with the Ministry.

Hukarere hired a firm of educational consultants who had all been involved in writing the Integration Act and regulations when they were members of the former Department of Education. The owner of the firm had been a Deputy Secretary in the Department, responsible for the writing and implementation of the Integration Act. With their expert help and with a lot of goodwill from the Ministry an agreement was negotiated. Some innovative solutions to some thorny obstacles were found and agreed.

In reality Hukarere did not meet the full requirements to warrant integration, specifically building standards, and the Ministry (and Minister) bent over backwards to grant the application.

The main and potentially devastating requirement of the agreement was that Te Aute Trust Board (or Hukarere Foundation in lieu) would have to raise considerable capital to upgrade the classroom block within two years of integration. At that point in 1995 the capital was not available, and was never to become available, leading to negotiations with Ministry of Education for a number of years to extend the period beyond the required two years.

However Te Whanau O Hukarere and Hukarere Foundation decided to proceed and called a Hui-A-Iwi at Kohupatiki Marae in about March 1995 to discuss integration. All members of Te Aute Trust Board attended, as did the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust, five bishops, Professor Whatarangi Winiata, staff and students and their whanau, local iwi, and many other members of the broad grouping Te Whanau O Hukarere.

The case for integration was put and strongly supported by the hui, but the majority of Te Aute Trust Board members were still opposed. The members in favour were of course Bishop Turei, Alyson Bullock and myself.

Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe, Bishop Brown Turei, Bishop Murray Mills, Bishop Muru Walters, Bishop John Gray and Professor Whatarangi Winiata then deliberated and strongly advised the trustees of Te Aute Trust Board (who alone were empowered to decide) to proceed with integration. The Trust Board accepted their advice and agreed.

The integration agreement was signed in the Hukarere Chapel about a month later in April 1995. Ownership of the school passed from Awhina, Alyson and Ross back to Te Aute Trust Board.

Early Days of an Integrated School

Upon integration Hukarere Foundation was replaced by an appointed and elected Board of Trustees. The three trustees of Hukarere Foundation, and former owners of Hukarere as a private school, were appointed to the Board of Trustees as representatives of the Proprietor, Te Aute Trust Board.

However, as the Foundation trustees had been acting in a voluntary capacity for three years they decided to take some time out, and to step back from the day to day oversight of the school. Alyson Bullock continued in her role with the hostel for a time. To allow them to step back a paid school principal would have to be appointed.

Mrs. Kuni Jenkins then volunteered to take leave from AucklandUniversity and to act as principal until a permanent principal could be appointed. As the Ministry of Education was paying a full operating grant, and school salaries, Hukarere was able to pay Mrs Jenkins to take that role. She acted as principal for about six months until a permanent principal, Mr Kere Mihaere, was appointed.

The financial situation stabilized after integration but the Hukarere Foundation continued to play a role in raising funds, particularly for the hostel which suffered some financial difficulty for a few months. With the eventual appointment of a permanent principal later in 1995 the school and hostel settled down and set a path to expand and develop.

I continued on the Board of Trustees until 2000. Awhina Waaka and Alyson Bullock remained closely involved.

Looking Back

It has been my experience that there will always be opposition to community projects and the more ambitious and more worthy the project the greater the opposition. The reopening of Hukarere was a project undertaken against the odds and against the entrenched opposition of a majority of her owners, the board members of Te Aute Trust Board.

The Trust Board was intent on closing Hukarere in order to save Te Aute by transferring the girls to Te Aute, thereby increasing the roll. Many on the Te Aute College campus were also antagonistic as they thought that the survival of Te Aute depended on its becoming co-educational and to achieve that they too needed Hukarere to be closed. They were wrong, for the survival of Te Aute depended on much improved school and hostel management, on improved school and classroom leadership, on improved teaching and learning, on changing an outdated model and mindset to suit modern circumstances, and on ridding the school of bullying and intimidation in the hostel.

One of the major obstacles was the lack of funding and on the day Hukarere was reopened and rededicated on 6th February 1993 she was already $36,000 in debt. She survived on prayer, koha and hard work for the two years and four months of the establishment phase.

The seemingly insurmountable odds and the opposition were overcome through a shared vision, shared faith and shared commitment across the whole of the Hukarere community represented by Te Whanau O Hukarere Inc. That vision was also shared by three bishops, by major funders, by key personnel in the Ministry of Education, and by the descendants of the Williams churchmen and women who had founded Hukarere and Te Aute in the 19th century. The vision seemed to be infectious and as the project gained momentum the City of Napier got behind it and help was always there for the asking. The local Taiwhenua tribal organisation also committed itself to the vision.

Such was the power of a shared vision, shared faith and shared commitment.


On 27th April 2003 Hukarere moved to a new site in the Esk Valley just north of Napier. The site on Napier Hill was sold and some of the proceeds used to buy the new site. This was necessary to overcome or avoid the problem of substandard buildings at the original Hukerere site, and the lack of capital needed to upgrade them to Ministry of Education standards under the Integration Agreement.

At her new site the roll rose to over 100 pupils and in 2013 is about 80.

As this is published in 2013, more than twenty years after the revival of Hukarere, she survives and flourishes.


The Speech is included as a record of the occasion




Apologies & Messages from former Principals.

  • Ruth Flashoff
  • Lucy Hogg
  • Isla Hunter

Apologies from Others

  • Principal of Napier GHS,
  • Mrs Te Whetumarama Tirikatene-Sullivan MP for Southern Maori,
  • Mr Geoff Braybrooke, MP for Napier,
  • Mr Michael Laws MP for HawkesBay,
  • Rt Rev Murray Mills, Bishop of Waiapu,
  • Mr Alan Dick, Mayor of Napier,
  • Mr Bill Richardson, Ministry of Education, Wellington,
  • Mr Ted Ercolano, Ministry of Education, Napier

Treaty of Waitangi

On this day in 1990 at Waitangi, the Rt Rev Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, spoke of how we Maori have been “marginalised” in our own land, despite the Treaty of Waitangi. Queen Elizabeth, the descendant of Queen Victoria, in whose name the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, spoke too of the Treaty of Waitangi and of how it had been “imperfectly observed”.

Marginalised and imperfectly observed.

History of Hukarere

There are parallels between the history of the Treaty of Waitangi and the history of Hukarere. It would seem to many observers that the vision of the founders of Hukarere has also been imperfectly observed by their heirs and successors. Throughout its history Hukarere has been subjected to the ravages of both fire and earthquake, and has recovered from both. But for the last thirty or so years Hukarere has led a precarious existence due to the ravages of financial uncertainty, leading to its closure as a school in 1969, and to its closure as a hostel in 1991.There are many who were certain that Hukarere would or should die.

I know that a great many Hukarere Old Girls also feel deeply that, like the Treaty, the education of young Maori women has been marginalised in favour of young Maori men. Let us pray on this auspicious day and in this celebratory year, that the doubts about the viability of Hukarere, and that the fears of the Old Girls that Hukarere would be lost, are finally laid to rest. For this is the International Year of Indigenous Peoples, and this is the year in which we celebrate the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in Aotearoa/New Zealand; and on this Waitangi Day in 1993 we reopen and re-dedicate Hukarere as a full school and boarding establishment.

That this has come about is due almost entirely to a dream nurtured and borne forward in the hearts of Hukarere Old Girls for the last 23 years, and in their hearts those Old Girls never once gave up hope. I would like to pay tribute to them all, and to those many Old Girls who for 22 of those 23 years kept Hukarere alive as a boarding hostel for young Maori women, although they attended NapierGirlsHigh School.

In particular I pay tribute to a small group we know affectionately as Ngaa Ahi Kaa; those who kept the fires burning and who kept Hukarere warm during its year in complete recess in 1992. [The first and only year that Hukarere has not existed either as school or a hostel]. Mrs Irihapeti Te Moana (Betty) Prangnell and twelve of her charges stayed at Hukarere on a private basis during 1992 and it is due to them that Hukarere did not grow cold in that dark year. Most of Ngaa Ahi Kaa are still here with us today. Tena koutou wahine ma, kotiro ma. Nga mihi nui ki a koutou katoa, ka nui te aroha ki a koutou.

Betty Prangnell who has been Matron since 1982 has decided that Hukarere is now in good hands, and that she would like to retire and return to her whanau in Christchurch. After all, she just came up here for a holiday in 1982, and was made Matron before she could escape back to Christchurch.

Betty, from all of us of Te Whanau O Hukarere, students, parents, staff, Old Girls and Friends; thank you for your devoted service to Hukarere. We wish you every happiness in your retirement. Kia ora koe, Irihapeti, ma te Atua koe e manaaki, e tiaki.

I pay tribute and give thanks to the Bishops who gave their unstinting support to get Hukarere reopened. The Rt Rev Te Whakahuihui Vercoe, Bishop of Aotearoa, The Rt Rev Paraone Turei Bishop of Tai Rawhiti/Aotearoa and The Rt Rev Murray Mills Bishop of Waiapu. Kia ora koutou. Special thanks are due to Archdeacon Joe Akuhata-Brown who is also Chaplain to Hukarere.

I would like to thank all of my fellow members of Te Whanau O Hukarere who grasped an opportunity, and with faith and determination, brought about this reopening and rededication. In particular our Patron of Te Whanau O Hukarere, Aunty Ruruhira Robin, for her faith in us and in the righteousness of our cause. Kia ora koe, e kui. We thank also the Napier City Council for its support, and His Worship the Mayor, Mr Alan Dick, who has agreed to become Patron of Hukarere.

We should not forget the Trustees of Te Aute Trust Board whose members have leased Hukarere to Te Whanau O Hukarere.

And those at the Ministry of Education who took less than a month over the Christmas and New Year period to process our application and to grant us provisional registration as a Private School. We thank you sincerely and we look forward to a long and close relationship with the Ministry. We look forward also to being granted integrated status and full funding in due course, but not too far away, we hope.

And we give thanks to God whose plan it was and whose oversight guided our every effort to bring about this reopening.

Hukarere Guarantee

On this day in 1840 a Treaty was signed which gave a pledge or guarantee to the Chiefs and Tribes of Aotearoa/New Zealand. On this day in 1993 we of Te Whanau O Hukarere give this pledge known as the Hukarere Guarantee

  • WE GUARANTEE that, given at least three years to work with a young woman at Hukarere, she will become a confident, motivated, self-disciplined and responsible citizen capable of providing leadership and moral guidance in her community:
  • WE GUARANTEE that together we will have found her personal strengths, skills, abilities and talents whether they be academic, cultural, artistic or sporting; and that we will have fostered and developed those attributes to enable her to have access to a successful and rewarding future:
  • WE GUARANTEE that she will go out from Hukarere into a strong and supportive network based on her Iwi, the Church, the Hukarere Old Girls Association, and the network of Friends of Hukarere


To deliver on this guarantee we have a highly qualified and committed teaching staff led by Mrs Awhina Waaka, who are introducing many innovative schemes designed to achieve the best possible outcomes for each student.

Throughout this week they have been helped by many enthusiastic and highly skilled volunteers to assess and evaluate the strengths of each student, and we sincerely thank you all. We have not yet appointed a Matron to replace Mrs Prangnell, and we are taking our time and being very cautious in order to make sure that we find the very best person for this crucial appointment. In the meantime Mrs Prangnell is helping the Whare staff to get things settled down, and has agreed to stay just a little longer to help out. Thank you again Betty.

Our acting Matron is Mrs Alyson Bullock who has taken annual leave from her own job to hold the line until we find a new Matron. Alyson has been a key member of Te Whanau O Hukarere and has contributed much to the reopening.

Our adminstrator is Mr Des Lanigan who has worked tirelessly and has performed many small miracles to help Hukarere get started just ten days after receiving approval to operate as a school.

There are many others who have contributed, and who continue to do good works, and we thank you all.

Nga Tauira

The most important people here at Hukarere are the students. I would like you all to know that we have very high expectations for all of you, and we have enormous faith in your abilities. Women can do anything – and you can do anything you want in life. You just need to make up your minds to do it, and get on with it. We are here to help you do just that. Almost anyone can get a School Certificate, and almost anyone can get a University Degree. It’s only impossible if you think it’s impossible.

But most of all we want you to enjoy your life here; both in the Whare and in the Kura. Learning can be fun; living at Hukarere ought to be fun. Let’s see if together we can make it fun. I would like you to know that all of us in Te Whanau O Hukarere are here in your interests, and that we are here to serve you. Let’s achieve great things together. No reira kotiro ma, kia kaha, kia manawanui, kia u ki te pai.

New Students

There are still a few places open at Hukarere for both boarders and day pupils, and you are welcome to send new students to us even though the Term has started. I am sure that there are many Old Girls who would like their daughters and grand-daughters to come to Hukarere, but who did not know that Hukarere was to reopen. Well, we didn’t really know either, until just ten days before we opened. We will be getting in touch with as many Old Girls as we can find over the next year.

Old Girls Reunion

There will be an Old Girls Reunion in 1995 to celebrate the 120th Anniversary, and before June this year we plan to hold a reunion planning hui for all those Old Girls who want to be part of the Reunion Planning Team.

Finally, Te Whanau O Hukarere asks all of you here today to spread the word. We would like all Old Girls to send us their contact addresses and phone numbers. We need to find them so that we may give Hukarere back to them.

On behalf of Te Whanau O Hukarere, thank you all for joining us today in this celebration. I am sure that you will all join with me in wishing Hukarere every success, and in giving all our aroha to these students of the new Hukarere, and to those many thousands to come in the years ahead. To end this korero, I would like to leave you with the Hukarere Guarantee.


  • WE GUARANTEE that, given at least three years to work with a young  woman at Hukarere, she will become a confident, motivated, self-disciplined and responsible citizen capable of providing leadership and moral guidance in her community:
  • WE GUARANTEE that together we will have found her personal strengths, skills, abilities and talents whether they be academic, cultural, artistic or sporting; and that we will have fostered and developed those attributes to enable her to have access to a successful and rewarding future:
  • WE GUARANTEE that she will go out from Hukarere into a strong and supportive network based on her Iwi, the Church, the Hukarere Old Girls Association, and the network of Friends of Hukarere.

No reira e koro ma, e kui ma, kotiro ma, rau rangatira ma,kua mutu aku korero mo tenei wa, tena koutou, tena koutou,tena ra tatou katoa.

Kei raro.

Spooks & Maori: Operation Leaf

Who was spying on Maori in 2004?

Following the Foreshore and Seabed Hikoi to the Parliament in April/May 2004 the Maori Party was formed on 7 July 2004.

On 11th November 2004 Scoop ran an exclusive by Selwyn Manning headed “Intelligence Sources Say SIS Investigating Maori Party”.

“Intelligence sources have revealed the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS) has launched a major covert operation investigating the Maori Party, co-leader Tariana Turia, its members, networks and associates”.

“Next year’s General Election could potentially see the Maori Party hold balance over what party leads a coalition government. Recent poll trends suggest if Labour is to emerge from an election to lead for a third term it would need support from the Green Party and the Maori Party. The later has yet to express a preference between a Labour-led or National Party-led government.

“This scenario has caused intelligence officials to consider what the potential consequences of a centrist Maori political force would have on the internal security of New Zealand.

“Scoop understands three people in particular have been singled out for thorough investigation: Brian Dickson, Whititera Kaihau, and Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia”.

On 21st November 2004 the Sunday Star Times led with this opening to an exclusive by Anthony Hubbard and Nicky Hager:

“The SIS has been involved in a widespread and probably unlawful campaign to infiltrate and bug Maori organisations, three spies have told the Sunday Star-Times.

“They provided a detailed description of a top-secret programme called Operation Leaf, a major SIS campaign targeting a variety of Maori organisations and individuals over several years”.


“The spies claim:

  • The SIS contracted “computer geeks” to engineer contact with Maori organisations and plant bugging equipment on their computers or change the settings to allow remote access.
  • They were told to gather intelligence on internal iwi business negotiations, finances and Treaty claims and inter-tribal cmmunications.
  • They were instructed to watch for “dirt”, including “personal information, relationships, money issues, family secrets” on Maori leaders.
  • Serious divisions exist within the intelligence community, with some spies believing the SIS is too deferential to Western agencies”.

There was much information about the activities of the SIS including this:

“The spies claim that the SIS targeted politicians and those active in the Maori Party. Peter says he was told by the SIS to cultivate a Maori MP. Another intelligence source says he was told in mid-2002 that another Maori MP was a “hot target’’ – SIS jargon for someone being bugged.

“Maori Party leader Tariana Turia, interviewed by the Star-Times, could cast no light on the matter. However, she did say that in about March this year she had had trouble with the phone in her ministerial house. When speaking on the phone in the kitchen, the whole conversation “would come through the radio in the bedroom’’.

She had hired a security company recommended by the Parliamentary Service to sweep the house, “and they found that in fact it [the phone] had been interfered with’’.

However, the company had also told her it was unlikely the SIS had done so “because they had more sophisticated means of tracking’’.

On the same day Scoop published a backgrounder about the claims written by Anthony Hubbard and Nicky Hager.

Murray Horton wrote it up in Peace Researcher in March 2005. 

And the next month on 11th April 2005 Prime Minister Helen Clark released a statement which began:

“I have received a letter and report dated 31 March from the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security about last year’s allegations by the Sunday Star-Times and Scoop that the Security Intelligence Service was bugging law-abiding Maori for political intelligence.

“The stories, signed by Anthony Hubbard and Nicky Hager for the Sunday Star-Times and Selwyn Manning for Scoop, were said to be based on reports by “dissident spies” involved in an alleged “Operation Leaf”.

“I can confirm today that the Security Intelligence Service had no operation called Operation Leaf, or anything like it. The same applies to a so-called Operation Weasel.

The Inspector-General’s conclusion, stated in his covering letter to me, “is that the reaction of the Director of Security when the material was published was correct: the story, apart from some base facts about dealings with one iwi, was a work of fiction on the part of the newspaper’s sources”. The Inspector General found no connection whatsoever between work done on the iwi’s computer and the SIS”.

That same day the National Business Review allowed itself to crow, just a little:

“It’s always a shame when a few stubborn facts get in the way of a great yarn but “Operation Leaf” was a story that required a suspension of disbelief on even its basic premises.

“Now it has been undone by no less a figure than the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Justice Paul Neazor, who found the tale to have been fabricated by “sources” that had no credibility”.

One of the hoaxers did make a public statement the next day.

And that was that. Operation Leaf was a hoax.

In Peace Researcher in March 2006 Murray Horton wrote a fairly full report on the hoax and the people who perpetrated the hoax.

Now I haven’t recounted this whole story in some detail just to embarrass my friends in the media. They were taken in and we still don’t know exactly why. I have recounted it in order to add to it an intriguing account of my own from seventeen years earlier, in 1987. It is relevant as you will see.

In 1987 I was in Wellington and had been out of the Army for over five years. For just over a year I had been working with two Board of Maori Affairs programmes, MANA Enterprises and Maori ACCESS (MACCESS).

In August 1987 I was told by an ex-Army colleague that he had been contacted by the father of a young Maori captain in the Army. The young officer had recently returned from the Middle East where he had served as a United Nations observer. A few days before his father contacted us his son had been picked up by two SIS officers, and accused of subversive activity by being present at a meeting of Maori radicals in Auckland with a representative of a Middle Eastern organisation. He was interrogated and intimidated. His father said he had been threatened and told that if he told anyone about the interrogation his career in the Army would be destroyed. He was frightened and told his father.

I got the officer to come to Wellington the next day and I sat him down, reassured him that he would soon be in the clear, and debriefed him. His story was just as his father had related, and he told me in detail exactly what had happened during his interrogation. He told me everything he could remember about the questioning and allegations, including the names of those Maori activists who it was alleged were at the meeting with him.

I knew some of those who were named. It didn’t take long to establish that two of them at least had not been at the meeting and that they were not even in Auckland on the day of the meeting.

I rang the late Brigadier Lin Smith who was Director of SIS at the time and asked for an immediate appointment. He agreed. I had known Brigadier Smith for over twenty years and had served with him in the Army. I knew him to be a man of honour and integrity. I knew that he would listen.

I started to tell him what I was there for and he stopped me. He then asked his PA to summon two of his officers and to fetch the file on the case. When they arrived he introduced them to me as two former RNZAF officers, and the two I was talking about. He asked me to start again and I told my story, including the fact that I had conclusively established that the young officer had not been at the meeting, and that two of the other named persons had not been there either.

In front of me Brigadier Smith then tore shreds off his two officers. He ordered them to cease their surveillance, saying that he had told them before that they were to stop what they were doing. He made it quite clear to them that the file was closed. Then he sent them packing. We sat and chatted for a while after that about old times in the Army and about what I was up to. Unexpectedly he gave me the identity of the Maori who was the SIS informant whose information had led to the interrogation of the young officer. He also told me that I could tell the other two people that I had cleared that the SIS had no interest in them either.

The next day I called the captain to my office and gave him the all clear and sent him happily on his way.

During the week after that I received job offers via two other former Army officers I knew to be SIS recruiters. I declined.

A month or two later a Maori Affairs officer working in our project office showed me a letter she had got from a person in her church congregation. It was a request for her to become an SIS informant and listed the sorts of information he was interested in. It was mostly to do with identifying all those who were getting funding from the MANA and MACCESS projects. He was also interested in what I was doing and who I was meeting. I recognized his name as it was one of the former RNZAF officers I had met in Brigadier Smith’s office. What was interesting was that their church was one of the more evangelical.

It was interesting because an evangelical couple John and Sharon Fawcett had been telling private church meetings about gun running, arms shipments and guerilla training camps involving Maori radicals. Unknown to them a tape of one of their meetings had been made and copies were circulating in church congregations. This was at a time when rumours were rife about probable armed struggle by Maori extremists with Libyan involvement. The Maori Affairs officer did not become an SIS informant but I learned more about my religious and paranoid new friend in SIS.

About that time I also became aware that defence reporter Roger Foley of the Evening Post in Wellington was occasionally reporting about the SIS. I put two and two together. He was also ex-RNZAF and his informant or informants had to be one or both of my disaffected new SIS friends. His information was definitely from inside SIS.

On 30th May 1988 Foley reported:

“Allegations to the Post by “members of the intelligence community”, that Lange had asked SIS for a report on left wing subversion of Labour Party in Auckland in lead up to 1987 elections”.

On 14th June 1988 he reported:

“Five past and present members of the SIS call for an independent audit of management and decision making”

They gave as their reasons:

  •  Low morale
  • Outflow of experienced or key staff
  • Inflexible management
  • Political interference
  • Maori activists not being under surveillance
  • closure of Wellington branch office
  • lack of internal complaints system

In relation to Maori activism Foley wrote:

“SIS previously took a close interest in Maori activists, in particular Waitangi Day celebrations. But according to one source field surveillance of activists stopped in 1984 because Brigadier Smith regarded Maori activism as legitimate dissent and protest and it was too sensitive an issue in which to involve the SIS. For information on this subject the service was told to rely on newspaper accounts”.

Some time after that Foley reported that two SIS officers had been dismissed. The SIS surveillance of Maori that Brigadier Smith had stopped was apparently named Operation Leaf.

Helen Clark said in her release on 11th April 2005 that “I can confirm today that the Security Intelligence Service had no operation called Operation Leaf, or anything like it”. Obviously the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Director SIS did not search far enough through the files to discover the real Operation Leaf back in  the 1980s.

Which leaves an intriguing question; how did the 2004 hoaxers know about Operation Leaf? None of them were former SIS officers as was initially reported in the media. Did one of them read and remember Foley’s article in the Evening Post sixteen years earlier? Did the one who used to be a Labour Party staffer know about the pre-1984 surveillance? Or was there another unnamed conspirator involved in the hoax, getting a little payback? One of my former RNZAF friends perhaps?

There are other questions arising from the 2004 hoax. 2004 was a strange year. It began with Don Brash’s inflammatory Orewa speech  on 27th January. Later in 2004 the police tried and failed to charge a person they believed was Bl@ckMask who had allegedly defaced a National Party website after the speech at Orewa. In April/May 2004 there was the Foreshore and Seabed hikoi to Parliament that resulted in the formation of the Maori Party. And the allegations made by the Op Leaf hoaxers was that the SIS had the Maori Party under surveillance.

However, at that time and before the Op Leaf hoax Te Putatara had independently established that someone was using IT contractors to gain access to Maori computers. Additionally a Maori IT person had also revealed that while working at an internet provider he had worked with the police to monitor internet activity by Maori. He had also been involved in monitoring activity related to the Seabed & Foreshore hikoi. It was well established that the police had since 1984 assumed responsibility for surveillance of Maori.

Did the Inspector-General for Intelligence and Security bother to investigate whether the police Intelligence people were doing what the SIS was alleged by the Op Leaf hoaxers to have done? Was it police intelligence that had the Maori Party under surveillance?

As the Indonesians say “There’s a prawn behind that rock”. Is there a policeman there as well? And a former RNZAF, former SIS officer? Getting crowded behind that rock folks.

Links: The Operation 8 Series