Category Archives: Memoirs

Healthy Lungs, Healthy Hearts and Kapa Haka

Day Whatever + 2

I reckon if you don’t keep count of the days in lockdown the days pass much faster.

57 cars in the New World carpark this morning. No one at the pharmacy. No one at the dairy that has reopened on High Street. A few more walkers this morning including a few mothers walking the excess energy off their children. Fathers probably on the couch watching rugby replays.

So what was I thinking about on this morning’s constitutional? Healthy heart, healthy lungs and kapa haka.

On Day Whatever of these musings-in-public my (real) friend Robin Payne commented that I still need to write about Borneo. I’ll get to that Robin. Soon.

Robin was the Director of Toi Whakaari / NZ Drama School when I joined the board back in the 1990s sometime. Among her many dramatic talents is that of voice tutor. She is an outstanding voice tutor.

Watching her work, I remember back then being reminded of my own voice training in the military; being trained to throw our voices the length of a parade ground, and to pitch the voice above the noise of battle. You need strong healthy lungs to do that.

A few months ago I reconnected with Toi Whakaari at the invitation of the new director Tanea Heke. Tanea was a student when Robin & I were at Toi Whakaari. I was overjoyed to see her become Director. I spoke to her about kapa haka.

COVID-19 has put a stop to kapa haka regionals and has probably postponed the national competition, Te Matatini. But have you noticed that most performers at regionals and nationals have not been voice trained. Some of those groups are almost screeching. Quite a lot of those groups actually. They need professional voice training. It would make a tremendous difference – to borrow a superlative from the Cockwomble-in-Chief in the White House.

I remember once being blessed to be in an ope with Keri Kaa, Rose Pere and Tungia Baker as our kaikaranga. Those three deliberately started the karanga a good 500 metres before any others would, such was the power of their voices, coming from deep down in the puku, off the top of powerful diaphragms. It was an awe inspiring performance that I will remember for the rest of my days.

So I talked to Tanea about how she might become involved in kapa haka. Another string to the Toi Whakaari bow. By working with one or two kapa haka to train all of their voices to the same high standard achieved by our acting graduates. From such small beginnings the impact on performance at Te Matatini could be quite dramatic.

But the best results are gained by those with healthy lungs and healthy hearts. The best defences against COVID-19 and any future viral pandemic are healthy lungs and healthy hearts. Which finally explains the connection between my daily constitutional and random thoughts about Toi Whakaari and kapa haka.

And a wistful thought that maybe kapa haka could become the main health promoting vehicle for our people. Most everything else that has been tried hasn’t lived up to expectations. With our Pasifika cousins we’re still most at risk of death by virus.

Advice from my Grandmother about COVID-19 Bullshit

Day Whatever + 1

56 cars in the New World carpark this morning. You’ve discerned by now that one of my strange little lockdown routines is counting cars at the supermarket. Don’t scoff. We all have these odd little rituals and routines in our lives. You too. It’s an intrinsic part of the human condition.

The 10k walk you know is not only about exercise and health. Quite often i will arrive home with an essay or article fully composed and ready to be written. Like this morning. And yesterday of course.

Anyway. In July 2016 I presented testimony at a Waitangi Tribunal hearing concerning Maori and war service. I was debunking some of the mythology about our Vietnam service, mainly about Agent Orange. I mentioned in passing that I did not myself at that time have any medical, physical or mental ailments that could be attributed to Vietnam. Except for one.

The many Vietnam veterans present had read my Brief of Evidence and had unanimously diagnosed me as a pain in the arse. Tribunal member Dr Angela Ballara then suggested that I apply for a veteran’s disablement pension for the condition.

Over three years later I’m still seriously considering doing just that.

I’ve always been a pain in the arse, one way or another, and I blame it on my grandmother Galloping Gertie.

You see, when I lived with her in 1948/49 she told me lots of her stories and histories. Even at that young age I worked out that some of them were pure fantasy and were meant to entertain rather than educate, but mixed up in it were some serious lessons.

One that has stuck with me for the whole of my life is about bullshit. She told me that I should never believe anything I read in the newspapers, or heard on the radio, and that I should only believe half of that which I witnessed myself. It has led to a lifetime of fact checking, long before the era of the Cockwomble-in-Chief in the White House. Google it – go on !!!

I challenge opinions and beliefs and debunk mythologies, ancient and modern. I have variously been labelled a smartarse, a pain in the arse, a contrarian, a dissident, a sceptic, a non-conformist, and an iconoclast, among other not-so-nice things. Sir Wira Gardiner once called me the Thomas Paine of Maoridom, which says as much about his obsession with military history as it does about my obsession with knocking over icons. And other peoples’ opinions and beliefs.

It is said that opinions are like arseholes in that everyone has one. Some wit added however that unlike arseholes our opinions should be taken out regularly and subjected to close scrutiny. Changing our own opinions and beliefs in the light of new evidence is a tough call, but if one is inclined to challenge the opinions and beliefs of others then one ought to regularly inspect one’s own metaphorical arsehole.

Which finally leads me to the point of these musings.

Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Tik Tok, Telegram, and every social media platform, are all being inundated with instant experts, false prophets, conspiracy theorists, confabulating commentators, meme generators, and just ordinary people who pick up on it and pass it around. I take my advice from Jacinda Adern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield, who take their advice from their teams of experts, and in the face of every instant expert demanding more of this and more of that, have to balance what is desirable with what is possible, and to determine how to do it within what timeframe.

As Galloping Gertie taught, we should not believe anything we read in the newspapers, or hear on the radio, and only believe half of that which we witness ourselves. Without checking the facts. She would have added TV and social media of course.

By the way. I neglected to tell you that Grandmother Gert lived by the sea. and that over the Ditch the West Islanders have memorialised her in a little song that they sing all the time. Listen carefully. to my grandmother’s song.

Power Walking the Lockdown With Galloping Gertie

Day Whatever.

They say we need to adopt a lockdown routine. I patrol the neighbourhood.

So. At 7.30 each morning I’m out the door for my 10k power walk around the neighbourhood. Walking out the door is the hardest part of a 10k power walk. Our grandmother Gertrude was a power walker. Walked everywhere. She would stride off to the shops about two miles away at a great rate of knots. She was known affectionately to everyone in her Hawke’s Bay village as “Galloping Gertie” or “Goldrush Gert”. I must have inherited my power walking from her.

Along with a bit of hayfever. The whole Nicholls/Kemsley clan inherited asthma, eczema or hayfever from Gertrude’s father Frederick Kemsley in England. Called in at the Pharmacy on my way home this morning to get some anti-histamine.

So. Out walking, cops on patrol don’t seem concerned that a Septuagenarian is loose on the streets. Streets are mostly deserted. Seems that Dannevirkians are studiously avoiding the Exercise bug as well as the Covid-19 virus.

I caught the Health bug from my grandmother as well. Touch wood. She instilled in me from the tender age of 5 that my most precious asset would always be my health. She grew up in England in the perilous times before disinfectants, antiseptics, antibiotics and vaccines. And hand washing and social distancing.

50 cars in the New World carpark at 8.30 this morning. Long queue waiting outside. Ordered my food and groceries online yesterday. Long lead times though. Delivery about 9 days. Pickup about 6 days. Opted for pickup with mask and gloves between 5 and 6pm on Monday 6th.

Not urgent anyway. Got plenty of vegan kai in my pantry.

Onwards. Old folk in their cars queueing at the hospital for their influenza vaccination. Better get mine soon.

April 1st. Not long before ANZAC Day. Maybe on April 25th I’ll put on the medals and beret and power march the daily 10k. Stop on the way at the Cenotaph to lay a poppy in remembrance of the grandfather who came home from the Great War with a war bride – Galloping Gertie.

Tomorrow’s Schools Yesterday.

Rigged policy and a shocking abuse of power.

So we’re finally getting an overhaul of a failed neoliberal education policy (“2018: System review ofTomorrow’s Schools – 2018 Tomorrow’s SchoolsTaskforce Report”).

It was rigged policy anyway.

“The Government sought a response to the [Picot Task Force] report both from the general public and from educationalists. The Associate Minister of Education and other colleagues joined me in conducting a series of inquiries throughout the country. More than 20,000 responses to the report have been studied.

“The need for reform was generally accepted.”

  • David Lange, “Tomorrows’ Schools: The Reform of Education Administration in New Zealand”, August 1988.

That was a lie.

Following the 1988 Picot Report a nationwide consultation process was carried out. But the report of that process was ignored. The Tomorrow’s Schools policy had already been written before the consultations were complete, analysed and reported. 20,000 responses indeed. It was sham consultation.

In 1986/87 I had engaged a communications company to measure attitudes and opinions in a range of community and government sectors about a sometimes controversial programme I was running.  A senior consultant whom I shall call “Peter”did the work and I was impressed by his professionalism. I later engaged him to tutor me through the principles and practices of his profession, and to teach me as much as he could over a long weekend. We discovered that in a previous life as an intelligence analyst I had employed those same principles and practices as part of the military intelligence process. We got a lot done in a single long weekend. He was very good.

We became friends.

The Picot Task Force report “Administering for Excellence” was published in April 1988. New government policy was published as “Tomorrow’sSchools” in August 1988. There was so much neoliberal policy reformation going on at the time that I did not take much notice.

Until Peter turned up on my doorstep; agitated, depressed, and extremely frightened.

His company had been engaged by Government to advise and participate in the consultation or inquiry process following the Picot Report. Peter was the lead consultant on that contract. The cause of his extreme anxiety was that he had the evidence that the inquiry process had been totally ignored, that he had expressed his concerns about that, that it was thought he might turn whistle-blower, and that the Government had thrown the full weight of the State at him to frighten him into silence. It worked. The Government and his company also tried to recover any evidence he might still have had in his possession.

He ran to me, as the one person he thought he could trust, other than his wife. That was partly because I’m Maori, and partly because I was known to be a critic of government policy making, and not easily intimidated. He actually said he didn’t know any Pakeha he could trust to support him against the government machine. I supported him through an alarming abuse of state power over the next weeks and months.

His company had summarily dismissed him, repossessed his company car, and tried to retrieve any evidence he might have kept. He was fitted up with false criminal accusations and was confronted, searched and interrogated by the Police Fraud Squad over a period of weeks. His wife was also subjected to that attention. Either his company or the Government had hired a former policeman turned private detective to investigate him. It seemed to me that was intended to further intimidate him.

The private detective eventually turned up on my doorstep. I invited him in and he tried to interrogate me about Peter. Instead, he got severely grilled about why he was intimidating my friend. He did not enjoy the experience.

Eventually the intimidation and harassment subsided without any charges being laid but it was a terrifying experience for Peter and for his wife for the month or two that it lasted. And it achieved its purpose. They moved away and started a new life out of the limelight.

And for the next thirty years we lived with a policy based purely on predetermined ideology. I served on school boards of trustees under that policy.

And Peter quietly disappeared from sight.

I got a Google Home for Christmas

A personal journey in technology.

Google Home:

  • I can tell the thing to play whatever music I want to listen to, streamed from Spotify, and even tell it to play it through my home theatre sound system.
  • I can ask it how old Lorde is.
  • Or whether the nearest supermarket or café is open.
  • Or where I can buy a new smartphone of a particular make and model.
  • And loads of other shit.

My son told me about these things a few months ago when he was thinking of getting one. But I looked at it and asked myself why I needed something like that, unless I get senile and can’t do all those things for myself, like doing a Google search on the computer, or tablet, or phone.

I was also concerned in this age of the Internet-of-Things about new technology that might be able to be hacked and used to eavesdrop. I wasn’t going to buy one. But now I’ve got one.

We’ve come a long way.

I was born in 1943 and for the first five years of my life we lived on a farm in the coastal hills of Hawkes Bay, miles from civilisation. We didn’t have electricity, or any of the things that ran on electricity, like electric light. But we did have a valve radio that ran off a 12V car battery. We didn’t have a telephone, or a car. None of the workers on the station had a car. My dad had a horse. On summer weekends all the families would pile onto the only motor vehicle, the farm truck, and head off to the beach for swimming and a picnic. That was fun.

When I was five I went to live with my grandparents who lived only a couple of miles from a school, just a short walk away for a five year old. I lived with them for about fifteen months. They were only about six or seven miles from both Napier and Hastings but they didn’t have electricity either. Or a radio. Or a telephone. Or a car. My grandfather had a bicycle and he was well known for biking for hours to get to where he was going. He biked four miles to work every day, eight miles a day. My grandmother was a power walker who would storm off two or three miles down the road to catch a bus to get to where she wanted to go.

My parents must have missed me because they moved into civilisation, or near enough, still out in the country. We were country people through and through. But we were just a couple of hundred yards from a country school. We still had a horse paddock at the school because half the kids rode to school. We didn’t have a school bus. Not even for the Pakeha kids.

And we had electricity and a telephone. But the phone was on a party line and you could guarantee that all the kids in a five or six mile radius would be listening to your conversations. We had electric light and electric hot water and the old radio now ran on electricity. But we didn’t have any other appliances like a washing machine or vacuum cleaner. The washing machine and vacuum cleaner came later, much later. Our mother did all of her cooking on the big old coal range until she finally got a small electric stove in the pantry to do some of her baking. The small stuff. Rather than firing up the big old coal range. And we got a car, an old 1937 Chevrolet coupe. We were technologically advanced at last. Nearly.

Mum didn’t need a vacuum cleaner. She just banned all cats and dogs from the house, and banned all boots and shoes. She banned all the men she didn’t like too. Standard country stuff. Mind you she loved her vacuum cleaner when she got one years later. We upgraded the car to an old Chevrolet sedan quite a few years later when the family outgrew the coupe.

But I was proficient in using country technology. My grandfather taught me to use a scythe and a sickle and a crosscut saw. He’d been a bushman in his younger days and even in his seventies could still cut down and cut up trees faster than men half his age, before the invention of the chainsaw. My father made sure I was proficient with a spade, shovel, rake, lawn mower, hedge clippers, hammer, saw, and all that stuff. Including the fence building and shearing shed stuff. Country technology included the all-purpose knife we all carried, the shotgun and the rifle. Ducks and rabbits and possums, and deer and pigs, you know.

That was it until I left home to join the Army when I left school. That brought on a technology revolution in my life. Well, I’d already used rifles and machine guns and wireless sets in the school cadet unit, but this was full on weapons and technology. I did that stuff for twenty years.

I did my training for a few years in Australia. That meant my first flight. I think it was the first flight anyone in my whanau and hapu had taken. When I got there in 1962 I discovered TV. They had TV in the barracks – black and white – we few New Zealanders were mesmerised by it.

Anyway, I became proficient in the use of HF and VHF wireless/radio and how to erect aerials to get communications out of out-of-the-way places, like deep in a South East Asian jungle. I think the main technology in the jungle was the boots, pack and rifle, and the radio. Carrying the heavy spare radio batteries was a pain. The world was moving on and in 1968 I did my first computer programming course as part of an Army mobilisation plan we were aiming to shift onto a mainframe computer at a university. About the same time I bought a very expensive state of the art electronic calculator. Wonderful new technology. It cut a lot of time and effort out of some work. Today much more calculating capability is a small part of every phone.

In 1970 I went back on attachment to Australia for a few years and got to work with a mainframe computer. Not me personally, but to use it to make short work of a lot of what we were doing. With its card readers and storage and printers and other peripherals it filled the basement. Today much more than that basement full of computing power is in my pocket.

By the late 1970s my technology had grown. Whereas in the mid to late 1960s I had one or two radio operators carrying my radios, I now had two, three and sometimes four radio operators carrying my radios through the jungle. But they were the same radios we had used in the mid to late 1960s.

It wasn’t until 1980 that the Army got a facsimile machine. We had one at our HQ in Wellington, but only the operator was allowed to use it. It was a big old, clunky old thing too. Well brand new actually. But clunky.

So I left the Army and in 1982 got a desktop computer. In my last few years in the Army I hung out for desktop computers to seriously cut back on the paper work we had to do, but they didn’t get them before I left. After I left the Army I taught myself to use a PC and computerised the management and finances at a place I worked for a couple of years. I’ve had a computer on my home desk ever since 1982. I remember when I bought an 8Mb RAM card to upgrade the memory on my first desktop, and when I got 64Mb of hard disk. This laptop is running 4Gb of RAM and 500Gb of hard disk storage. There’s another 14Tb of storage on the desk. And it’s an old laptop.

Back in the day we had Chief Clerks and hoards of filing clerks to keep track of the paper, and we had typists’ pools to create all that paper. The head typiste was the gatekeeper to happiness and if you displeased her your work got pushed to the bottom of the pile and you got into trouble for not meeting your deadlines. True happiness was doing your own typing, and keeping only electronic files. Your electronic messages were handwritten, then passed to the Communications Centre where they typed up your message and sent it electronically on the Telex. SMS is great. Depending on the classification of those messages they might be encrypted by the operators before they were sent. Messages sent by WhatsApp, Signal, Wikr, Telegraph and Facebook Messenger are all encrypted these days. Straight off your phone.

!n 1986 Sir Wira Gardiner and I were contracted to the Board of Maori Affairs working alongside the Department of Maori Affairs and running a new programme. I had the only desktop computer in Maori Affairs. It caused a bit of a stir. They had a mainframe computer but you had to be one of the IT elite to use it; never for mundane day-to-day stuff. Then we decided we needed a fax machine. Maori Affairs didn’t have one. They communicated by telephone mostly, and by letter and telegram.

Remember the telegram?

We asked Maori Affairs for a fax. They said no. So off we went and leased one from the Post Office, and put it onto the Maori Affairs telephone account. They spent a fortune on telephone calls so we figured no-one would notice fax hire and fax calls. They never did. But we had no-one to send faxes to. So we started sending faxes to Maori Trust Boards and heaps of other organisations via the Post Office Bureaufax service. The fax would say “please ring so-and-so on such-and-such a number and ask him or her to call and pick up a fax”. We sent them far and wide. And very soon they all started buying their own fax machines. We sent faxes to all the Maori Affairs districts and they started asking Head Office if they could have fax machines. Head Office said “absolutely not” so the districts went out and bought them anyway. Soon Head Office was the only office in the Department without a fax. So we started getting faxes for Head Office on our machine. We’d read them of course and take a copy of the interesting ones before passing them across the road. Then Head Office staff started coming across the road to send their faxes. We’d read them of course and take a copy of the interesting ones. Some of the so-called “Maori Loans Affair” scandal of December 1968 passed across our fax machine.

Well, soon I got a call from the private secretary to the Minister for Maori Affairs, Koro Wetere. He said the minister wants a fax machine. I said ask Parliamentary Services or Maori Affairs. He’d asked them and they both said absolutely not. So off I went and leased one from the Post Office and booked it up to Maori Affairs. They never noticed that one either. Then I told everyone what Koro’s fax number was so the whole of Te Ao Maori could fax him direct. And they did.

Remember the fax machine?

Then the Board of Maori Affairs asked me to oversee the installation of a PC network, in one of the sections of Maori Affairs Head Office. The opposition from the IT department and from senior management was huge. But we got in the experts and built the first PC network in Maori affairs. It was magic.

A couple or more years later Wira Gardiner became CEO of the Iwi Transition Agency (Te Tira Ahu Iwi). I’d long since stopped working alongside or with Maori Affairs. Anyway in his first week on the job he rang me from his office (the old Maori Affairs) on a Sunday. He said how do I get into this PC network. I said I’m no longer authorised. He said you built it, how do I get in. So I relented and he was logged in in no time at all.

It must have been in the late 1980s or 1990 when I got my first cellphone, a Motorola Brick. It cost a fortune, had a short talk-time and took forever to charge. But it was magic. I was on the road a lot and my kids could call me wherever I was, and I would never miss a call from a business client. It was clunky though and I carried it in a small kete one of our whanaunga had woven for me.

The Brick

That’s twenty seven years ago. I’ve had dozens of mobile phones in that time, including a lot of Blackberries. I got a Blackberry as soon as they came on the market in New Zealand. Now into Android though, and interestingly, the current phone is a Motorola Moto G, the same make as my very first phone. That computer and communications device in my pocket has more computing power than a 1970 mainframe, and more communications power than I ever had in the military, which functions on communications networks.

The Internet came on stream. I hooked up to the Net about 1994 or 95. Got into email, and chat rooms. We chatted in chat rooms or on bulletin boards, or in the Use Groups. Remember those? Course you don’t.

The World Wide Web had been invented but it took the development of the browser to make it available to the ordinary user. I used the Web without a browser and was glad when Netscape arrived to make browsing easy. Then I noticed that there were hardly any Maori online, and that Maori stories and news were being appropriated and told through a Pakeha lens. That pissed me off.

So I went on a crusade to challenge all of those purporting to tell Maori stories, and built the first Maori website at . It’s still there although I haven’t written any new stuff for ages. And I started Te Whanau Ipurangi / Maori Internet Society and built a few other websites and started a few other online initiatives.

Me and my small group of Maori Netizens were the first Maori into a lot of the social media, just having an ihu, watching as more and more Maori came online and subscribed to the various offerings.

Now in 2018 the Internet is old hat, email is old hat (none of my mokopuna use it), the World Wide Web is old hat, hardly anyone builds their own websites any more, social media stuff is getting to be old hat. President Trump governs via Twitter and the media sucks it up.

We’ve got solar panels on the roof, broadband to the home, we check what’s happening on the roof over the Internet; we’ve got wifi, satnav built into the car, a phone and tablet full of apps, online shopping, electric cars, portable bluetooth speakers, smart TVs, Fitbit things, VOIP telephones, VPNs, and all the rest. Coming at you is the Internet-of-Things; fridges and stoves and dishwashers and light bulbs and home security systems and teddy bears, all connected to the Internet. All with lousy security and easily hackable.

We’ve got mass surveillance by governments and corporations, and breaches of privacy, and identity theft, and online scams and fraud, and cyber-bullying, and a whole lot more besides.

But I wouldn’t be without my technology. And I do use the secure Tor browser, end-to-end secure cloud storage, end-to-end encrypted email, and end-to-end encrypted messaging and voice.

Now I’ve got Google Home waiting for me to say “Hey Google, stop eavesdropping”.

Silly Bugger Kiwi

A few days ago I watched a You Tube video of the 2015 Kea World Class New Zealander Awards where Helen Clark won the supreme award. Right from the beginning some of these “world class” New Zealanders were calling themselves “Kiwis”, over and over and over again. To me it sounded absolutely ridiculous. World class silly buggers more like it.

And at a wedding recently an Australian guest thought he had offended me when I told him I was a New Zealander, not a Kiwi. It was a conversation stopper but he was just being friendly. I suppose I ought to be kinder to Australians who don’t know better. New Zealanders though, world class or otherwise, deserve my opprobrium.

I’ve been doing it for years now. I do it all the time, regardless, just a gentle rebuke to those who compare me to a nocturnal, flightless and fat-arsed dumb little bird with a sticky beak. Or perhaps to an egg-shaped furry little greeny-brown fruit that used to be called a Chinese gooseberry back in the dark ages when I was a child.

I’m an oddity. One of a minority it seems who doesn’t appreciate being likened to a ridiculous bird, or to a minor ingredient in my breakfast smoothie (fruit, greenery, herbs, nuts, flaxseed oil, coconut yoghurt, spirulina, turmeric, ginger, lecithin, water and ice cubes – in case you’re interested). I’m a Maori vegan oddity as well. Or a vegan Maori oddity.

It’s probably the Maori heritage in me that gets me going on about being called Kiwi. I’m not so vegan that I object to being called Kiwi out of political correctness.

For me it’s about whakapapa or genealogy. You see, I’m tangata Maori, a Maori person. I’m not manu Maori, a Maori bird. Nowhere in my extensive whakapapa going back over thirty generations and across multiple lines into multiple hapu or tribes can I find a single bird let alone a kiwi bird. Try as I might, not one. There are a lot of distinguished rangatira or chiefs in that whakapapa and not one of them is a bird. Or even a foreign fruit. Strictly speaking my early ancestors were indeed foreigners who migrated here from Eastern Polynesia. But colloquially they would have been called coconuts perhaps, rather than Chinese gooseberries.

But I can see why most New Zealanders don’t mind being called Kiwi, and even describe themselves as Kiwi. It’s easy to understand. There’s a simple explanation. They’re silly buggers. New Zealanders are silly buggers. Except for me. And my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

On the other hand, in this highly urbanised society more and more divorced from the natural world where heaps of people don’t know that milk comes from a cow’s tit and bacon is pig’s bum, maybe they just don’t realise any more that a Kiwi is actually a flightless, nocturnal, fat-arsed and dumb little bird with a sticky beak. Mind you there seem to be a lot more fat-arsed dumb New Zealanders with sticky beaks around these days. Maybe the distinction between New Zealanders and Kiwis is not as great as when I was growing up and being taught the difference. Maybe there’s a genetic evolution in New Zealanders towards fat-arsed dumb bird-persons. I think I’d rather my descendants became intelligent fruit.

Nah. I agree with you. That’s all a bit far-fetched. I think I’ll stick with the silly bugger explanation.

Which sort of leads me to the inevitable conclusion that my forebears in the New Zealand military were silly buggers. Don’t get me wrong they were soldiers not bears, and there were a lot more than four of them (in case you’re getting confused) but they did originate this silly Kiwi stuff. In the Boer War and then in World War I a New Zealand regiment and then all New Zealand forces adopted the kiwi as their regimental then national logo.

Don’t ask me why. It defies logic. Who in their right mind would choose a nocturnal, flightless, fat-arsed and dumb little bird with a sticky beak to represent New Zealand’s finest? Some stupid bloody staff officer for sure. Or perhaps it just started as a joke in the workshops and a vehicle mechanic or a sign writer with a sense of humour painted a kiwi on the staff officer’s car. In these more liberal days it would be a likeness of the officer’s head shaped like another part of his anatomy.

Now I can vouch for the fact that military vehicle mechanics and sign writers have a sense of humour. All of the Australian vehicles in Vietnam had a small red kangaroo painted on the door. Overnight they all had white kiwis painted on them, mounted on the red kangaroo, in flagrante delicto. True story.

And you never know, that staff officer might have had style and a sense of humour himself. He might have turned a soldier’s mockery into a national symbol and had the last laugh. He’d still be laughing in his grave. Maybe the whole bloody New Zealand Expeditionary Force was in on the joke. Surely the flower of New Zealand’s manhood didn’t seriously compare themselves to nocturnal, flightless, fat-arsed and dumb little birds with sticky beaks. Or to a Chinese gooseberry.

Anyway, New Zealand soldiers used to be called Maorilanders, EnZedders, Fernleavers (after a badge they wore), Diggers and Pig Islanders, but by about 1917 they were being called Kiwis and were calling themselves Kiwis. The original silly buggers were our WW1 heroes. It didn’t take long to catch on and by the time the war ended in 1918 all New Zealand soldiers were being called Kiwis. I suppose it was better than Pig Islanders.

By the way did you notice that we used to be called “Diggers” too, until the Aussies stole it, like Pavlova and Phar Lap and Crowded House and Jo Bjelke-Petersen.

Then sports teams picked up on it and pretty soon all those silly New Zealanders were calling themselves Kiwis. Except for my grandfather, and my father, and me. In fact, growing up in Ngati Whatuiapiti I never once heard anyone refer to themselves as Kiwi. I guess we all knew we were tangata persons not manu birds. Either that or there were no silly buggers in Ngati Whatuiapiti. Which is stretching credulity a little. Believe me.

For me it’s about mana – dignity, self-respect, mutual respect, prestige even. In Ngati Whatuiapiti we all descend from our illustrious tipuna (ancestor) Te Whatuiapiti; the red-haired one who won many military and economic battles, regained the lands stolen from his father and grandfather, and held off marauders from the North trying to take them again, without doubt Hawke’s Bay’s most outstanding leader, warrior and statesman, ever. We bask in the inherited glow of his mana. None of us descend from Kiwi. Ours is mana tangata not mana manu. Ngati Kiwi is some other tribe, a tribe for silly buggers who think of themselves as nocturnal, flightless, fat-arsed dumb little birds with sticky beaks. Or Chinese gooseberries.

I didn’t get called Kiwi until I left school, took leave of Ngati Whatuiapiti, joined Ngati Tumatauenga (NZ Army), and went off to Australia for officer training. There we were called Kiwi and Pig Islander and a whole lot more besides, including “Shaky Islander” which I didn’t mind. We were also called “Sheepshagger” which I did mind of course, although I did quietly admire the sheer audacity of the pot calling the kettle black. The inventiveness of Australian nomenclature has never ceased to amaze me. Yet somehow they have avoided being called Kangaroos or Wallabies or Dingos or Wombats or Galahs or Cockatoos or Dingbats. Except for their sports teams and their politicians of course. “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” seems to satisfy their sense of nationality. “Oi, oi, oi” their finely tuned sense of the ridiculous.

Aussie. I suppose if I had to choose between “Newzie” and “Kiwi” I’d have to go with “Kiwi”, much as I hate to say it. “Newzie, Newzie, Newzie”? Nah. The bloody Australians would laugh us out of the stadium.

I served in the New Zealand Army for twenty years “Under the Kiwi” as it were. I have to admit it. I wore a hat badge with a kiwi on it for most of those twenty years, and I’ve still got my cravat that we wore when we deployed to Vietnam in 1967; a black cravat with a small white kiwi that I never wear any more, not for decades. And I’ve still got a very artistic kiwi lapel pin that I never wear any more, not for decades. I used to wear them once upon a while ago.

A sense of humour goes a long way in the military. A joke in the form of a nocturnal, flightless, fat-arsed dumb little bird with a sticky beak is the legacy of my military forebears.

What does it say about the Royal New Zealand Air Force that they still sport a kiwi in the middle of their RNZAF badge and in the middle of the roundels on their aircraft. Silly buggers. Or are they just perpetuating the joke. My beloved Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment still sports the kiwi in the badge. That’s OK though because they’re not silly buggers; they’re good jokers.

That’s all behind me now. But I suppose a film about my own life might be called “Once Were Silly Bugger”. Ah well. I’m definitely a New Zealander now; Ngati Whatuiapiti and New Zealander. I’ve returned to my roots and there ain’t no kiwi there. Just a few stray pukeko running across the road into the swamp.

So don’t you dare call me “Kiwi” you silly bugger you. Or “Pukeko”.

Hikoi ki Afrika: A Maori in Mali

Birthplace of the Blues

In 2005 when UNESCO asked me to go to Mali of course I said “Yes”.

It was to a pan-Afrikan conference that was one of a series of regional UN conferences leading up the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) at Tunis in 2005. The first WSIS had been at Geneva in 2003. In May 2003 I had attended and spoken at the UN Asia Pacific WSIS Pre-Conference in Tokyo. I challenged the conference orthodoxy and got myself noticed.

It wasn’t that I was important at all. I’d been a member of the local NZ UNESCO Communications Sub-Commission and managed to be part of the NZ delegation to Tokyo where I’d spoken briefly as part of a panel discussion. Someone in UNESCO thought my korero might be relevant to the Afrikan conference. Right place at the right time. The UNESCO conference at Bamako, the capital of Mali, was themed “Multilingualism for Cultural Diversity and Participation of All in Cyberspace”. I spoke on “Fostering the Creation of Local and Indigenous Content”.

The conference was not the main event for me. It was very interesting and I met interesting people from all over the globe but it was my first (and only) time in Afrika and I saw it as a small pilgrimage to the birthplace of humanity. It was only a short visit confined to a single city in West Afrika but a visit that remains vivid in memory.

At The Travel Doctor in Auckland they treated me like a pin cushion with multiple vaccinations. It reminded me of our deployment to Vietnam in 1967 when they pumped into us every vaccination known to mankind; except the one that would prevent death by blast or bullet.

Getting there was a bit of a hassle. We had to get visas from the Embassy of Mali in Paris but because of the short lead time quite a few of us didn’t have time to go through the three month bureaucratic process. So UNESCO HQ put us on a plane from Paris hoping to sort it out on arrival in Bamako. A leading Afrikan academic involved in the conference got it sorted and we were all shepherded through border control sans visa and boarded a bus for the city.

Bamako is like a lot of the world’s cities. Impressive boulevards and buildings in the centre, leafy suburbs in the inner city, a market or markets located near the city centre, the rich and powerful living in the cooler hills, and most of the population living basic lives in basic houses and huts on the outskirts. My first impression of Afrika, apart from the airport, was driving through those outer less endowed suburbs.

The smell hit me first. I don’t mean a bad smell. A different smell. Well it probably smells bad to people who haven’t travelled much. Have you noticed that different countries and different cities have their own distinctive smells? Sometimes the smell changes as the country or city develops and modernises. A long time ago, the early 1960s was when I  first made the trip, the pungent smell of tanneries on Botany Road was the first smell of Sydney on the way from the Airport to the CBD. The tanneries have long since been banished. Singapore today smells nothing like it did in 1965 when I first went there. They’ve both been sanitised.

Driving into Bamako I was instantly reminded of the first time I arrived in Malaysia in 1965, forty years earlier. That was my first time in a different country other than New Zealand and Australia. We were driven by bus from Singapore to Melaka and our Commonwealth Brigade base at Terendak and it is the smell that I remember most from that night as we drove through the tropical countryside. Steaming decaying vegetation, steam rising from the road, the lingering scent of exotic fruits and flowers, muddy rice fields, mud wallowing buffalo, and the pigs, dogs and chickens ubiquitous in South East Asia and Oceania. The smell of diesel fuel from the trucks and buses and Mercedes taxis. And in the villages and towns the smoke from cooking fires and the strong aroma of strange new foods.

The smells of Bamako were different but the impact was the same. Dust rising, it smelt a dry land, the base smell something like the smell of the Australian outback in summer but different. Dogs and chickens. We drove through ramshackle rows of shops. Open drains and uncollected rubbish. Old Mercedes and Toyotas and diesel fumes. Smell free handcarts. And a whole new and interesting assortment of cooking smells. This was an older smell than the smell of Asia and Oceania and Australasian cities. Like the smell of old people and their lived in houses but different. It said, “Welcome home pilgrim. This is what you will smell like 60,000 years from now when your new lands have grown old and dry. Don’t wrinkle your nose. Welcome home”.

That’s what happens when you let your nose hear for you. You hear unsaid things.

As if to counter the dryness and brownness of much of the landscape the women of Afrika set the place alive with colour. Strikingly rich colour. Their dresses and headscarves ablaze in reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos and violets. The browns too are rich browns. The streets and shops and markets are set alight by the women of Afrika. And as if the lightness of colour creates a lightness of spirit the public spaces are alive with the beautiful smiling black faces, the cheerful chatter and gentle laughter of tall, sinuous, slender, graceful Afrikan women. The men are colourful too by the way.

How much richer we would be if our streets were alive with colour instead of the blacks and browns and dark blues of our streetscape.

I brought as much of that colour home with me as would fit in my suitcase. A pile of different Afrikan materials. My London domiciled daughter waylaid me in Paris on my way home and carried away as much as I could bear to part with. I still have it, my treasure trove of colourful cloth, taken out of the drawer in moments of reflection upon my hikoi ki Afrika. I hear still the chatter and the laughter. I hear too the music of Mali.

In modern musicology mythology West Afrika is said to be the birthplace of the Blues. It may well be true. The Malian bluesmen have indeed had an impact on modern world music but I think they got their new version of their ancient music from Amerika. I love the Blues and the music of Mali. Boubacar Traore and the late Ali Farka Toure, Salif Keita and Toumani Diabate were already some of my favourite musicians before I went to Mali. I didn’t get to see them perform but I did manage to get to two concert performances, one modern and one traditional. It is one thing to listen to your collection of recorded Malian music but something else again to be at live performances in the place of origin. Quite magical.

The Jeli (French griot) of Mali are a traditional caste of professional orators and musicians and singers. Their kora is a stringed instrument usually accompanied by a variety of drums. It is from these instruments that it is said the Blues originated, and that the call and response Blues style of music originated in West Afrikan singing. Since the 1950s they have added the guitar, both acoustic and electric, to their repertoire. Modern Afro-pop is very popular in Europe. The men don’t have it all their own way for the Malian divas are also hugely popular.

There is deep sadness in this music as well as joy and exuberance. From here in West Afrika came a large number of the 12 million poor souls who were sold into slavery in the New World from the 15th to the 19th Century. They were robbed forever of their heritage, their languages and cultures and kept only the remembrance of their music. It became the Blues, the R&B and the Rock ‘n’ Roll of my youth that reached out to the world and travelled back again to Afrika.

In this former French colony French is the official language and Bambara the most widely spoken. There are about twelve other indigenous languages that are considered “official” languages. The modern songs are in both French and Bambara. Although only about 20-25% of the people speak French the music is also aimed at an appreciative audience in France. On the streets of Bamako the language is mostly Bambara but you can get by with your rudimentary French, and mine is indeed rudimentary. Communication is part of the delight of travel. In the market some speak English but not many.

After the people it is the sights, the sounds and the smells that set different places apart. I hadn’t really met any people yet.

Apart from hotel staff the first I got to know was a really nice guy. After a good night’s sleep the first thing I did was to hire a driver with an old Toyota to show me the city. He wanted to take me along the standard tourist route but I pointed to the highest hill overlooking the city and asked him if he could drive to the top. He didn’t know, so with much encouragement and financial inducement he set out to find out something new about his old city. Initially reluctant he soon got into the swing and became a willing participant in my adventure. He was still worried about his car’s suspension though. We eventually found a track and wound our rocky way to the top.

Bus Station & City

A view from the lower slopes. Bus depot in the foreground and the city centre far beyond in the hazy background

Far below our feet was the main bus depot with dozens of parked green buses and stretching away from us into the distance was the quite beautiful and relatively modern city of Bamako sitting astride the ancient Niger River. Down there was a teeming mass of modern humanity and up on the hill almost total silence and as I wrote in my journal the “remembrance of a timeless land”. Down there were just over 2 million people who had evolved from ancient hunter gatherering bands who had roamed across and lived lightly upon the ancient land beneath our feet.

These modern West Afrikans descended from the same people as the East Afrikans who were the ancestors of all of the rest of us on Earth.

Across the way on another hill was the luxurious abode of the President, surrounded by the buildings of government agencies. One could imagine the French colonists appropriating to themselves the best hill in town, to look down upon the seething masses. And on another hill a hospital in splendid isolation. I wondered how many of the people down there had access to that hospital or was it reserved for the wealthy, the great and the powerful. The Mosque, clearly visible in the middle of the city, was down on the flat among the people.

We watched as women slowly climbed their way around the cliffs and up the steep hill laden with the day’s shopping from the market. My guide didn’t know where they lived or where they were going and we couldn’t see any houses.

There were cows and goats foraging for food amongst the stunted straggly dry country trees clinging to life in the dust amongst the rocks. The country reminded me a bit of summer in the Canberra region of Australia, and of the dry country where we did our military manoeuvres when we were training at the Royal Military College so long ago. Australia too is an old land and the culture of its indigenous people is said to be the oldest living continuous culture on Earth. What then of these Afrikan cultures in this even older land, in human terms.

You can learn a lot about a city from its highest hill.

It was just a two day conference. Most of the speakers were from out of country telling us mostly about the latest linguistic and technological innovations in creating multilingual content for the Internet. The Afrikan delegations by comparison spoke mostly about their specific needs. Apart from the Afrikan korero I’d heard most of it before and I amused myself by trying to follow the French translator rather than the English. Until the leader of the French delegation spoke.

He was a French government minister and he started speaking in English because he said English was the most common language at the conference. Almost immediately one of his bureaucrats interrupted (in French) and roundly chastised him for breaking French government protocol by not speaking French at an international event. She was quite severe in her criticism. He told her to sit down and shut up and delivered the rest of his speech in English. I thought it was hilarious.

Later that day I met her in a workshop event. She greeted me in French and I responded in Te Reo Maori. She said “Je ne comprend pas”.

So I asked in broken French that as France had colonised East Polynesia perhaps she spoke Tahitian, a sister language to Maori. “Non”.

I then told her I was fluent in Bahasa Indonesia and asked if that was one of her languages. “Non”.

So I asked if English might be a language we had in common. “Let’s speak English” she replied.

We got on well and she was a nice person beneath the French chauvinism. She saw the humour in our initial exchange.

Many of the out of country speakers spoke to or at the Afrikan people or to each other. In my korero I tried to speak with them; Oceania and Afrika being similar continents in a way. You’ll have to read the speech to work that one out. It seemed to strike a chord and I was befriended by a senior Malian delegate, the professor who had smoothed our way into the country. He taught at a university in another Afrikan country but was obviously closely in touch with affairs in Mali. He was a gentleman in all respects, and an intellectual of mana in his own country. He was great company and it was he who directed me towards the musical performances I attended in the evenings.

I don’t know that the conference achieved anything or if the main World Summit (WSIS) in Tunis achieved anything either. I think many international conferences are for the benefit of the people that attend rather than the countries they represent. They flesh out resumes.

It was soon over and we had a day to spare and to explore the city. A multicultural and multilingual group of us led by a small but intrepid Malaysian professor with a big camera set off. We made sure we had enough fluent French speakers in the group to smooth our way. After a bus tour of the city we arrived at the market. It was alive with crowds of local people buying anything and everything they might need. Perhaps a thousand stalls. Wending our way through the many alleys we were immersed in a sea of colourfully clothed people and they seemed to have a heightened sense of respect for personal space despite the crowding.

In some places in the world people intrude into your personal space and in others no less crowded they don’t. Voiceless rudeness and politeness sort of.

A short walk took us to Marche des Artisans, the Artisans Market close to the Grand Mosque I had seen from the hill. This was less crowded and seemed to me to be a place mainly for tourists. Hundreds of stalls where artists created and sold jewellery, paintings, carvings, musical instruments, leatherwork, sculpture, ironwork and every other form of art to be found in Bamako. It was very interesting but touristy and I bought nothing. I went back instead to the main market to a fabric shop I had noticed and bought a large and stunning piece of fabric I had seen earlier. And a whole pile of different fabrics. My remembrance of the colours of Afrika.

My Malaysian professor friend got us into trouble with some of the locals by trying to photograph their Grand Mosque without permission and after a bit of a standoff the Police rescued us. That was the end of our excursion. He was from a Muslim country. He should have known better.

I would love to have visited and stayed at the legendary Muslim city of Timbuktu to the north. I would love to have met up there some of the nomadic Tuareg people of the Saharan and Sub-Saharan region. It is said that their skin has a blueish tinge from the indigo dyed clothing they wear. All I have instead is a piece of indigo dyed cloth.

In 2012 in three separate developments Tuareg rebels declared a new state, there was a coup d’etat in Bamako, and Timbuktu was overrun by Al Qaeda and other Islamist groups, some of them pushed out of Libya and Tunisia after the Arab Spring. There was fighting between the Tuareg and the Islamists and in 2013 the Islamists were defeated by French armed forces. Peace was brokered with the Tuareg but life in Northern Mali is still fraught. Much sadness in a beautiful country.

I had trouble leaving Mali because I didn’t have a visa to be there in the first place. My new friend the professor came to the rescue again and saw me onto my plane.

Back home, from the sublime to the mundane.

The trip helped get rid of a bad case of sciatica. For months before I was in constant pain and there was no way I could travel like that. I found a very good physiotherapist and he gave me an exercise regime to realign and strengthen my core musculature. He told me that he couldn’t fix it but that I could. He also said that 90% of his clients were too exercise averse to fix their own problems. I got the point. I hit the Swiss Ball for a couple of hours every day and was soon in a fit state to travel. After the trip I continued with the regime and haven’t had any lower back problems since.

It’s amazing what the right incentive will do. Mali attended to my soul, and fixed my back. And ten years later I still haven’t decided what to do with all that fine cloth. Perhaps it’s time to deck out my granddaughters in the colours of Afrika.

Mud Cloth

A table cloth or bedspread perhaps. I still haven’t decided.

I dream a dream

“I dream lofty dreams,
and as I dream, so I become.
My vision is the promise
of what I one day am;
my Ideal is the prophecy
of what I at last unveil.”

– James Allen

I dream a life given to Io-Matua
Whose works great and small I perform,
seeking to stand hour by hour
in His presence.

Moment by moment I seek
to make this world a better place,
guided by the God-Force,
within and without.

Striving to discover my unique gifts;
and to use the greatest,
that which gives me happiness
and untold pleasure,
for the purposes most needed
in all the world.

To become the best me
I can be;
to help others become.
To give, to serve,
to promote peace,
healing and prosperity.
To unconditionally love
all creatures
and all things.

To passionately mine
the Wisdoms of the ages.
A lifetime of learning and contemplation,
knowing and becoming;
and so to write and teach others
to know and become.

And I dream a journey into serenity,
a journey of the fulfilled spirit
to Hawaiki and beyond;
to Io-Matua-Kore.

“I dream lofty dreams
and as I dream, so I become.”


Copyright: Ross Nepias Himona

Racism – A Personal Recollection

A few weeks ago I was in Waipawa visiting with my eldest daughter, my grandchildren and great grandchildren. I spent my final evening in town in the company of two daughters, one grandson, four granddaughters, two granddaughters-in-law, one grandniece, and nine great grandchildren. Apart from making you feel your age that context tends to give you a multi-generational long term view of life and its challenges. Racism is one of them.

During my stay in Waipawa I went uptown to the Central Hawke’s Bay Settlers Museum to look at their Gallipoli exhibition. It was interesting in a local sort of way. But their display of local history books caught my eye, particularly “Opening the Gate, The Story of the Te Aute District” published by the Te Aute and Pukehou Historic Book Trust in November 2006. In the acknowledgements I noticed immediately that I was one of the contributing writers, which was news to me!

They had filched a piece called “Te Aute, Te Aute, Te Aute” that I wrote in “Te Putatara in 1997.  However I long ago realised that in Tikanga Maori “copyright” means that any Maori has a right to copy your stuff without asking, and even without acknowledging that you wrote it. In this case I assume that one of my whanaunga gave permission, and they did attribute it to me. So that’s all right.

The book was about my home district and apparently I had contributed so I bought it. It was a goldmine.

The Maori history, the settler history, the geological history, Maori families, Pakeha families, schools, hotels, shops, farming and other businesses, community organisations, even a record of all those buried in the local urupa – it was all there. This was my home district and my home villages and my home people. It brought a rush of memories of my childhood and teenage years growing up in this rural paradise. Good memories, mostly.

It also brought back memories of growing up with racism.

Like almost all Maori I have spent the whole of my life living under the shadow of racism in the New Zealand I know. The other New Zealand has mostly officially and unofficially denied the existence of racism, but continued to practice it, overtly and covertly. Two different countries in the same land, wrapped in the same flag.

Which is not to say that I have become rabidly anti-Pakeha; just mildly anti-Pakeha from time to time. After all, half my relations are Pakeha and half my friends are Pakeha. In fact I was brought up in the two worlds of my family, Maori and Pakeha, and still have close relationships on both sides.

I grew up in the 1940s, through the 1950s, and left home to join the Army in 1962. We all knew and accepted that racism was just part of life for us. We were not really shocked when Dr Henry Bennett was refused service in a Papakura hotel in 1959 because he was Maori. It was much publicised and even condemned but it was the sort of thing we expected in the New Zealand of those times. I was 15 or 16 at the time and had already been personally exposed to racism. At that young age we were already veterans in the ongoing battle of the races.

My Pakeha mother taught me to read and write in 1946 when I was three. According to her it didn’t take much teaching and I got it straight away. I remember sitting in the sun outside the kitchen window of the farm cottage reading and reading, and reading. By the time I started school I’d read everything in the first two years’ curriculum, and much more. My first teacher didn’t know what to do with me and didn’t challenge me at all. I remember sitting around doing nothing for a whole year, and being regularly punished for being bored and distracted, and distracting others. At the end of that first year her two top pupils were Chinese and Maori. I’m told that she was somewhat offended that a Maori was top pupil although I didn’t know it at the time.

Six years later, having been academically challenged by two excellent teachers at two different schools, I was about to be made Dux of Pukehou Primary School. I had spent the final four years in the headmaster’s classroom being pushed to my academic limits by WW2 veteran Arthur Harold William Thompson. I was his star pupil. A few days before the final prize-giving he took me aside and told me that I was not going to be Dux. The school committee, all Pakeha, had decided to stop awarding medals for Dux because they could not agree to award it to a Maori. At the prize-giving I got a special Headmaster’s prize that he bought from his own pocket; a book called “The Pale Grey Men”. The book wasn’t up to much but the title said it all.

You might understand how this single incident has coloured my attitude to New Zealand society ever since. It was the first time that I consciously realized that to be an intelligent Maori brighter than many Pakeha was to be deeply resented. We were supposed to be dumb buggers. Happy, promiscuous, guitar playing, sheep shearing, lazy dumb buggers. That was our station in life. Pakeha were the ones with the brains. Get over it I hear you say. Well, we move on but I don’t think many of us get over it. It sits there in the unconscious mind forever, gets dredged up occasionally and now written down for the first time.

My path through secondary school was mostly smooth and still high achieving until towards the end. I ran up against a science and mathematics teacher who hated having a Maori at the top of his class. He was a small man in all respects [biased opinion] nicknamed Chook. His wife also taught; tall, stern and imposing. We used to say that his wife was the rooster in the family. Between us, me and Chook, we conspired to conduct a running battle of wits [well my wit and his cane] and to drop my academic performance several grades. I suppose he achieved his aim, albeit an unconscious aim [speculation]. I did have the satisfaction of threatening to break his cane over his bald head if ever he tried to use it again. He used to send me to the Principal to get caned after that. Thankfully an outstanding teacher the next year encouraged me to produce outstanding results in science and mathematics.

On the rugby field I was doing quite well, pushed hard by my father. In the local third grade I was without doubt the best player in my position in the competition and looking forward to selection to the Central Hawke’s Bay representative team. Then my father warned me not to get my hopes too high. The father of a Pakeha player in my position was connected to the Rugby Union and my dad thought he would probably get the nod. My dad’s Pakeha friend who was also connected to the Rugby Union thought the same. They were right. He who was not a very good rugby player [widely shared opinion] got the nod the next year as well.

I read later that All Black selection at the time wasn’t a colour blind process either.

I was by then about 16 or 17, or both, and had become as interested in girls as I was in rugby. She was Pakeha, blonde, beautiful and intelligent. We both excelled in the classroom and in sport and spent a lot of time together at school. Eventually we decided to go to a dance together. All our classmates were going. I stayed in town with a Pakeha classmate. On the morning of the dance his sister told me that my girlfriend-to-be was sorry but her mother had told her she was not going out with a Maori. So I went on my own and she wasn’t there of course. And that was the sad wistful end of that. That’s life. You move on.

About ten years ago she introduced herself to my eldest daughter and told her she once had a crush on her father. I thought that was nice.

I left that school moments before I got expelled by a racist [opinion] cane-wielding principal and went to Te Aute College into a Maori-friendly environment. The main event there was when I got six of the best across the arse with a plum stick wielded by the Maori chaplain after getting caught smoking. “This will hurt me more than it hurts you my son”, he intoned in the liturgical manner. “Bullshit”, I replied. He miscounted and the legal limit of six strokes became seven; the seventh an “Amen” to the prayerful Anglican practice of beating. Couldn’t accuse him of racism though.

By his actions and attitude my father taught by example how we should not ever accept racism.

At one time during the shearing season he was contacted by a local big time sheep farmer, racehorse breeder and knight of the realm. The said Knight was in a bind and didn’t have a gang booked to shear his sheep. So we went out to meet him, my Dad and I. They sorted out the business details then we went to inspect the shearers’ quarters. They were atrocious; filthy dirty. My Dad said we’re not living in those conditions, you’ll have to pay extra for us to travel every day. Sir objected strongly and said it was good enough for all his previous (i.e. Maori) gangs and it was good enough for us.

Here comes the brilliant bit.

So my Dad said I tell you what, you put your horses in the shearers’ quarters and we’ll live in those lovely clean stables. He paid us to travel.

At about that time my father brought home a highly controversial book by a despised visiting American academic, David Ausubel. We both read “The Fern and the Tiki” (Angus & Robertson, 1960) and discussed it at length.  Ausubel had correctly pointed out that there was a widespread colour bar in New Zealand and that most Pakeha vehemently denied its existence. This was the first and only serious discussion my dad and I had about racism, virtually on the eve of my journey into adulthood. He told me of the barriers his professional cousins had encountered in their careers, and the advice one of them, Dr Manahi Nitama Paewai, had told him to pass on to me. A professional career as a Maori would be challenging to say the least.

So what did I learn in my early impressionable days from these and many similar incidents? Some hard lessons about being Maori; that’s what.

I decided to join the New Zealand Army. Well, I didn’t decide really because I was headhunted to become a commissioned officer and jumped at the opportunity to go to Australia for a few years to be trained. I was told by Staff Sergeant (later Major) Roly Manning who recruited me that army recruiters had been unofficially told to actively recruit high achieving Maori to become officers. The Army at that time had a lot of Maori soldiers and only a few Maori officers. Made sense to me. And the trip overseas was alluring. I had hardly been out of Hawke’s Bay, except to travel with my father to Athletic Park in Wellington for the odd test match.

When I was an occasional teenage larrikin occasionally let loose on the streets of Waipawa town the local cop, WW2 veteran Sergeant Stan Brown, would kick my arse and send me packing back to my Maori village. I reckon it could have been because his daughter was sweet on me [wishful thinking]. Just after I was commissioned as an officer in the NZ Army he saw me on the street and demanded in his usual stern voice to know what I was up to. When I told him I was a commissioned officer he saluted and called me Sir, genuinely pleased for me. Some cops, maybe a lot of cops, are good guys.

The level of racism I encountered in the NZ Army was a lot less than in everyday civilian life. There were a lot of Maori in the army but mostly in the enlisted ranks. There were about thirty Maori commissioned officers around my rank and seniority, dwindling to about 10 by the time I retired in 1982. In the main we were free from racism but I found that there were some officers who had no problem working with Maori so long as they weren’t their superiors, in either rank or intellect. As I became more senior and posed more of a potential threat in the promotion stakes I went head to head with a few of them.

I did have some wins in the racism battle though. I arrived back in New Zealand at the end of 1967 as a young war veteran after operational tours in Borneo and Vietnam. My British wife and I travelled around the North Island for about a month before I reported for work in Wellington. During our travels we noticed that hotels and motels often didn’t have rooms available when I went in to book, but always did when she went to the desk without me. When we arrived in Wellington we encountered another hotel with racist attitudes. She made the booking.

A week later I went back to that hotel in full uniform, introduced myself to the manager and told him that I was now the officer in charge of the staff that made all travel and accommodation bookings in Wellington. I knew that his hotel was a preferred supplier so I had come to meet him. We chatted amiably and I didn’t tell him about the booking incident. His hotel did not get a single booking from Army for the next two years. How cruel was that? Not cruel enough probably.

And some losses.

In the early 1970’s I was in Melbourne attached to the Australian Defence Department as an intelligence analyst. I used to enjoy working in Australia with Army or Defence. As soon as I landed in Australia, every time I went there, I was no longer Ross Himona, Maori and professional soldier. I became just Ross Himona, professional soldier, judged only on my ability to do my job. It was as though an invisible burden was lifted as I got off the plane.

My bosses in Intelligence in Australia were experienced WW2 veterans who had built the organization they now ran. They greatly appreciated my talents, trained me and gave me a variety of job experiences with the aim, they said, of keeping me in the business for the long term. They even approached New Zealand Defence to try to keep me in Intelligence. But that was not to be.

Near the end of my time in Melbourne we were visited by a senior naval officer from NZ Defence Intelligence. On the weekend a few of us NZ Defence people entertained him at a poolside BBQ. While I was chatting privately with him about my work he asked me out of the blue what I thought about Nga Tamatoa, the newly formed Maori protest group based mainly around Auckland University. I was honest and said I agreed with their aims but not necessarily with their methods. No more was said. A couple of weeks later a friend in Intelligence in Wellington told me that the conversation had been noted and that it was unlikely that I would have a career in Intelligence in New Zealand Defence. Another door closes.

And twenty years after I left Pukehou Primary School without my Dux my past looped back to confront me in the Army.

One day back then at Pukehou, about 1955, a classmate brought to school a photo of her older brother who was in Malaya with the army or about to deploy to Malaya. He had just been promoted to Lance Corporal, the first rank on the ladder. She was very proud. Twenty years later I was a Major at Waiouru in an executive role. That very same Lance Corporal from Pukehou had risen through the ranks to Warrant Officer Class 1, at the top of the ladder for enlisted men. He was experienced, competent and well respected, and he now worked directly to me. He was fairly autonomous in his role and I didn’t interfere at all. He didn’t realize exactly who I was but I knew his lineage. We got on quite well, I thought.

He marched into my office one day, stood to attention in front of my desk, saluted, and said he had something to discuss with me. I invited him to relax and take a seat but he remained standing. Then he told me straight up that he could not work for a Maori officer, was not going to another day longer, and how was I going to resolve the issue.

I knew he was eligible for retirement, and I knew that he was planning to build his retirement home back in Pukehou. So I told him that I wasn’t going anywhere, that the New Zealand Army could no longer provide a haven for people with his attitude to Maori, and to submit his retirement papers that very day. He did and was retired on a pension within the week. I preserved his dignity and respect (and his pension) and didn’t tell a soul the real reason for his sudden retirement.

He went back home to Pukehou and built his retirement home. Then he tried to put himself on all the committees in the village including my old Pukehou Primary School, and started behaving as though he had the authority of an army warrant officer. But things had changed in Pukehou since he and his family had left. My Maori relations ran all the committees and much of the business of the village, and they gave him short shrift. Eventually he sold up and moved away. A few years later he died.

I felt genuinely sad for the man who had a long and distinguished career in the army and was a respected senior soldier. But he was a product of his time and his village, a village that had imprinted itself upon both of us, on opposite sides of the racial divide.

In the Officer Corps at the time there was little in the way of racism, although it was always made known in subtle and sometimes no-so-subtle ways that a commissioned Maori officer should abide by the values and culture of the officer corps rather than being overtly Maori. So we were officers on and off the job, and Maori in private. Which was basically the advice given to me years before by my whanaunga Dr Paewai.

Alcohol could unhinge the façade of camaraderie though. I had a friend in the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment slightly senior to me who I knew to be racist. But as infantry officers and trout fishermen we got on just fine and he respected my feelings by keeping his racism under wraps. Professionally we worked well together as we should have. Occasionally in the Mess he would get a skin full and start ranting, at which stage I would discreetly withdraw. On one occasion however another Pakeha officer and friend took offence on my behalf and punched him out. Sadly that seriously impaired the working relationship.

You’re in the Army for a serious purpose and you have to trust each other and work together despite your differences.

In the last five years of my career in the army I started having a few problems with a few people; a small minority. At first I thought it was just me, being my usual smartarse self. However a Pakeha officer quite senior to me, wise and friendly, told me in the bar one night that I was too bright for my own good. I got the message. He meant as a Maori I was too bright for my own good. Another more senior officer told me that I was making enemies of some people who would soon have an influence on my career, and that the generals who were looking after me for the moment would soon retire. The way he put it was that I was backing the wrong horses. The reasons were the same; too bright and too Maori, and rightly or wrongly thought to be under the patronage of the senior Maori, Brigadier and soon to be Major General Brian Poananga, and others of that generation.

I respected both of those officers and had earned their respect in return. I took their observations seriously.

And as I always acknowledge – I was a bit of a smartarse. One of my mentors the late Sir John Mokonuiarangi Bennett was to tell me years later that one of my failings is my genetically programmed hard wired inability to suffer fools gladly. It suited me to regard that as a strength but he did have a point.

I was to find out over the next five years that they were right. There were just a few racists but they were becoming influential. And I was a target. And I didn’t react with passive equanimity. Although I enjoyed the soldiering aspects of the army I’d had enough of living within a rigid hierarchy anyway so in 1982 I retired, having completed twenty years loyal and faithful service to Queen and country, some of them as a spook.

In defence of the NZ Army I have to record that most of the officers I served with and under were top people without a racist bone in their bodies, and I have a deep and abiding respect for all the soldiers, non-commissioned officers and warrant officers who served under me and with me. Three friends who each later became Chief of Army (Tony Birks, Piers Reid and Maurice Dodson) radically changed the army which became a tribe known as Ngati Tumatauenga and actively embraced Maori culture at all levels. Some of my old retired adversaries in the officer corps didn’t react favourably to that.

As a Maori, life outside the army was a return to the full impact of New Zealand racism. By then it had been moderated by race relations legislation and by the appointment of a Race Relations Conciliator but it was and is ever present as background noise to almost every aspect of life.

An event that brought this home to me was on a trip home to Hawke’s Bay. I walked into a shop in Napier and stood in line to be served. I didn’t get served until the two Pakeha in line behind me were served. At which point I loudly and unprintably abused the shopkeeper and walked out.

I also applied for a job at an RSA in Hawke’s Bay, recorded in this bitter poem, written shortly after.

Yours sincerely

Situations Vacant.
Secretary / Manager.
Our RSA invites
from suitable people.
Dear Sir,
Enclosed is my CV.
I believe I am
a suitable applicant.
Yours sincerely
Major R.N.Himona.
Dear Major,
We would be pleased
to interview you
for the position
of Secretary / Manager.
Yours sincerely,
Returned Services Association.
Dear Major,
We were impressed
but regret to advise
you were not
Yours sincerely,
Returned Services Association.
Dear Major,
I’m ashamed
of my RSA.
You were the best by far.
We didn’t select you
because you’re Maori.
Please accept
my personal apologies.
Yours sincerely.

© 1983, Ross Nepia Himona

That was the Taradale RSA. Nothing much had changed in 25 years in provincial New Zealand. I have to add that the Taradale RSA is now led by good friends from my Borneo and Vietnam days.

In business from 1982 to 2011, owning and running a Maori business, we found that almost without exception we were patronized and talked down to in our dealings with the Pakeha business community. Sometimes we played the game and watched and waited with delight as they slowly came to the realization that we were very smart and very capable, and sometimes knew more than they did. The good companies made the necessary adjustment in attitude very quickly. The slow learners got the flick and we took our business elsewhere.

In my writings in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s in my popular newsletter “Te Putatara” I often deliberately provoked racist responses from people who claimed not to be racist. After a few years I tired of the predictability of the response and let it go.

During that time I also used to take on the Maori elites as well and to poke fun at the then Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Koro Wetere. Nothing too personal. One day Mr Wetere came to Te Hauke to open a community centre in a big old homestead we had bought, with a Maori Affairs loan, near our Kahuranaki Marae. He asked me why we had bought a tired old homestead and I told him we hadn’t. I was having him on, just a bit. He looked a bit confused because he was right; it was more than a bit tired. Then I asked him if he had bought back the hill overlooking his marae, the one the Pakeha had perched on for over 100 years, and he got it.

The whole tongue-in-cheek exchange was witnessed by our kaumatua the late Sir John Bennett and the late Eru Smith. They took me aside later that day and told me they totally supported me in my tussles and sparring with the Establishment through my newsletter “Te Putatara”. They were part of the Establishment themselves and I asked them why that support was private, not public. They were totally honest with me. It felt to me as though that was the first time they had been that honest with anyone. They told me something that astounded me but explained so many things.

They were afraid, those pillars of the Establishment; with an inbuilt, deep-seated fear. For the whole of their adult lives their livelihoods and the livelihoods of their whanau had depended on their getting on with the Pakeha who employed them and with the Pakeha amongst whom they lived and worked. The Pakeha had the power to destroy the lives of themselves and their families. Until that moment I had never realised that racism can breed so much fear. In my whanau we had been raised to resist it and I had assumed it was so for all Maori.

Racism is an attitude of superiority based on skin colour and culture. To maintain that belief the other, in this case Maori, are thought to be an inferior race in all respects, especially intellectually inferior. There is no scientific justification whatsoever for that belief.

The observable tip of the human mind is the conscious mind in which we are sometimes rational and logical, most often to justify irrational behaviours, and just occasionally to modify outdated attitudes and beliefs. By far the most influential part of the mind however is the unconscious mind, or the adaptive unconscious. Within this unconscious mind are all the memories and passed down attitudes of a lifetime, stored, adapted and shaped into a narrative that shapes and contains our beliefs and our self-image. The unconscious mind makes millions of decisions every day, based on that narrative, and the stored experiences, and determines our reactions to events from moment to moment, without our being in the slightest bit aware of what is going on.

Research psychologists have shown that we can believe one thing in our rational conscious minds while the more powerful unconscious mind still believes exactly the opposite.

That’s where racism is today. Many New Zealanders continue to display overt and antagonistic racist attitudes to Maori. Many New Zealanders have genuinely moved on and accept Maori as equals. And in the middle are those who have made a conscious shift in attitude and in rational moments display non-racist behaviours. But lurking in the depths below is the unmodified racism that will come to the surface in unguarded moments, or in safe environments with friends, or when deliberately provoked by (slightly reformed) shit stirrers like me.

These days I mostly ignore it, treating it as part of life without ever accepting it. Indignation and anger don’t change it and are a waste of precious time and energy at my age. Change only ever happens over the generations, very slowly.

You might ask why, in an essay on racism in Aotearoa New Zealand, I have related my very personal history of racism, or highlights of it. To be honest I didn’t intend to but it’s the only way I know to show what racism does. The experience of racism is a very personal experience, reinforced over time, that burrows its way into the very core of your being deep in the unconscious mind, like a poisonous maggot, and it never goes away. As I found out from my kaumatua that maggot has sometimes given birth to deep seated fear.

It just goes on and on and on. It is also a shared personal experience among nearly all Maori. Academics have written objective treatises on the subject, and legislation has objectively outlawed it, but racism is not an objective experience and I can’t be objective about it. I can only tell you some of my personal history, and assure you that it is not at all unique or remarkable in Maori New Zealand. It is part of the background to everything about the lives of Maori. Unfortunately it’s not fashionable these days to talk about it.

I actually wrote most of this essay about ten years ago and had it stashed on the hard disk waiting for the right time to publish it. A conversation with another retired Maori Army officer a few months ago, and a book in a local museum a few weeks ago stirred the memories again. But I enjoyed the book despite those memories.

Not all of the Pakeha I knew then were racist. I was convinced that the girls all liked me. Later, for about ten years 1991-2000 I served on the Board of Trustees of Te Aute College and noticed some big changes in attitude in the district. I was also heavily involved in the re-opening of Hukarere and during that time had a wonderful relationship with the Williams family, some of them descendants of Archdeacon Samuel Williams who founded Te Aute College and also a farming dynasty in the district.

My whanau, the one we called the shearing gang, had a long and mutually beneficial business relationship with that Williams farming dynasty and with other farming families in the district, including the White family. An old friend Adrian White was on the organising committee for the local history and wrote the foreword.

Despite the differences our lives in the Te Aute and Pukehou district, Maori and Pakeha, were intertwined to a certain degree, as the lives of Maori and Pakeha throughout Aotearoa New Zealand are increasingly intertwined. We just have to keep working at eliminating the racial discrimination. There is no quick fix. It takes generations to change the powerful narratives in our individual and collective unconscious minds.

I know that it will still be there but I hope that it will have improved in the times of those mokopuna in Waipawa, my great grandchildren.

Memoirs of an Outsider

These are the memoirs of an outsider; of a left hander in a right handed world, an introvert in an extroverted world, a Maori in a Pakeha world, an observer by inclination and a participant by necessity; a bystander.

I’ve been consciously aware of being an outsider, a bit different, from an early age. As a teenager my favourite author was Thomas Hardy. His Wessex novels of social criticism, often in rural settings I readily felt at home in, portrayed outsider characters; bystanders looking on at society. I empathised with them. In the 1970s I discovered Colin Wilson and his 1956 classic “The Outsider” in which he investigated the experience of the outsider; a sense of dislocation or being at odds with society. He explored his theme through literature and through the lives of great thinkers, writers, artists and men of action. His “Outsider” was a person on a quest, experiencing life at and between the extremes of the nothingness of non-being and the highs that came in moments of great insight. The book was an instant best-seller, was translated into thirty languages, and has never been out of print. It sits still within easy reach in my study.

In the early 1970s I was also fortunate to be given time out from a full on busy military career to spend four years in Melbourne on attachment to Australian Defence. Melbourne at the time was a hive of intellectual activity during a period when many perhaps all of the social and political conventions of post-WW2 conformity were being challenged. It was the time of Germaine Greer’s “The Female Eunuch” and Dennis Altman’s “Homosexual”, two of the many books that directly challenged and upset the Establishment elites and their comfortable conservative worldview. I immersed myself in that intellectual environment; reading, attending lectures, talks and seminars, and following the performance and visual arts. I subscribed to “Nation Review”, an intellectually vibrant weekly newspaper of criticism and critique, and humour and satire, that later provided the model for my own modest effort “Te Putatara”.

The life of an outsider or a bystander is not a lonely life for it is still peopled by family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. And of course nowadays by all of those Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn digital friends, followers and contacts. The life of an outsider or bystander is however lived mostly in the inner world of reflection and contemplation. A good book whether fiction or non-fiction, a good movie, play or concert, a quiet dinner and conversation with friends, or a long walk in the countryside, is infinitely more satisfying than a night at the pub or a noisy party.

It is a life lived for all or most of the last thirty years as a vegetarian then vegan, and nicotine and alcohol free, free of both recreational and prescription drugs, enjoying only the natural highs of a well exercised body, an engaged mind and a settled spirit. Vegans and wowsers are outsiders by choice of course. But I’m a health nut vegan rather than a hard core animal rights political vegan. I’m not that much of an outsider.

My friend Wira Gardiner has described me as an iconoclast and as the Thomas Paine of Maoridom (displaying his knowledge of American & European history). Some in the Army called me an enigma which I thought said more about them than me. I always knew exactly who and what I was. One of my mentors the late Sir John Mokonuiarangi Bennett told me that my biggest weakness was my inability to suffer fools gladly and I told him he was right but that I always regarded it as a strength as well.

They are only partly autobiographical these revelations or memoirs of mine, keeping from you many aspects of myself and my life’s experience. I’m a private sort of person. Very private. So you should remember as you read that I am many things other than those I reveal. Much like the rest of you.

At this point though I should reveal that I was once a commissioned officer in the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, a veteran of the Borneo and Vietnam campaigns. A twenty year soldier. That much you can obtain from the public record. I was once also a spook. Those two occupations will provide some of the material for the memoirs.

These are memoirs but memory is a notorious and scientifically proven liar.

Firstly our powers of observation are not as good as we think they are and we often miss or misinterpret what is happening around us. Eye witnesses in court cases, including policemen, are by definition unreliable, for the eye and the ear are easily deceived. Ask any stage magician, or cognitive psychologist, or my late grandmother who taught me at the age of 5 never to believe anything in the newspapers, or on the radio, and to believe only half of what I observed myself.

The brain simplifies what it observes. Then it focuses on that which we understand and expect from our own experience and stored memories. In doing so the brain leaps to conclusions that fit that experience and memory. And it all happens unbeknown to us behind the veil of consciousness.

As the Talmud (and Anais Nin) told us, “We see things not as they are but as we are”.

Secondly, we all reconstruct our memories all the time. We adjust the facts to accommodate them within the narratives we have created for ourselves to make sense of our lives. We are constantly engaged in giving meaning to our lives through our mental narratives, within which we usually view ourselves as good and worthy people, and sometimes not. We discard or conveniently forget those facts that don’t fit our narratives.

When our unconscious narratives are too much at variance with the facts of our lives we are declared deluded or at worst insane.

With that in mind I have carefully avoided the perils of delusion and insanity, I hope, by checking my recollections as much as I am able without spending years in research. I have checked newspaper accounts of events, various books that have described them, and of course multiple sources on the Internet. I have plumbed the memories of others who witnessed those events. I have consulted my own papers, diaries and journals which are comprehensive, detailed and recorded close to the events described.

Like everyone but I hope to a lesser degree than most I am inclined to judge people and happenings against my own experiences and beliefs, sometimes out of context, and to draw conclusions and make observations; sometimes in error. I shall try in this memoir of mine to differentiate between fact and observation, and to faithfully observe the context, like the accomplished intelligence analyst I once was.

These memoirs are then a record of a journey of some seventy years, or more accurately, about some moments on that journey. They venture outside my own experience to add historical, political and social context to the stories they tell.

Whilst those stories are as far as I can make them factual accounts they may at times read like works of fiction, with elements of both tragedy and comedy. Comedy is an essential element in a joyful life; to be able to see the humour in almost any situation. Tragedy and learning to react stoically to tragedy is the balance in the well lived life. As the cliché goes – it’s not what happens to us that matters, it’s how we deal with it. The tragedic elements in some of these stories stem almost entirely from three main characters; Ignorance, Racism, and Paranoia.

In the first essay I open with an account of a few instances of the racism I have encountered in my own life, to allow the reader to feel the actual experience of racism rather than trying to define it or describe it. In the life of a Maori in a Pakeha world racism is just part of the background noise, mostly soft noise but sometimes loud and jarring.

Regardless of personality type and inclination Maori are by definition outsiders. Which is probably why we continue to preserve our own Maori insider’s world. Because of it some accuse us of apartheid. Some Maori choose to live there almost permanently. Others like me move between the two worlds the one providing a retreat from the other. Some choose to live entirely in the outside Pakeha world.

In my childhood, sixty to seventy years ago, we “half caste” children were a species apart, outsiders by accident of parentage and birth. We were loved and accepted by both our Maori and Pakeha whanau but never fully part of either Maori or Pakeha society. We participated in both, distastefully labelled “half caste” by Pakeha, and if we excelled at school labelled “Pakeha” by those Maori who used cultural difference, however slight, as an excuse for their own learning deficiency.

Those were the days when there were few Maori university graduates. I was the first in our hapu to gain School Certificate, then University Entrance and Higher School Certificate. An oddity if not an outsider. Now we have dozens of university graduates. Education once valued mostly just in our whanau and especially by the aunties, is now prized by the whole hapu. I have seen that happen in my lifetime; the slow but gradual then increasingly rapid movement of Maori out of the shadows of the underclass into the educated middle class. There is still a long way to go but with the advancement I have witnessed in my own lifetime we can look forward to the time when we Maori outsiders are outsiders by genetic programming and choice alone rather than racial discrimination.

I myself like being an outsider and will continue to be an outsider, regardless. I’ve gotten comfortably used to it. It wasn’t always so.