Category Archives: Memoirs

Reflections on ANZAC Day

This essay was republished in “Tell You What: Great New Zealand Nonfiction 2016” (Ed Susanna Andrew & Jolisa Gracewood, Auckland University Press, 2015).

A lot of money has been spent on commemoration, a lot of hype generated, mythology recycled, and there’s been a lot of criticism of the expenditure, the hype and the mythology on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign. There have been calls by Maori and others for the dead of the New Zealand Wars to be mourned as well as the dead of foreign wars.

What does ANZAC really mean?

Grandfather Whana of Ngati Kere (Porangahau) and Ngati Hikarara (South Wairarapa) didn’t enlist for World War I. At that time enlistment was not a popular option for Maori so he was not one of the approximately 2227 Maori who did enlist. By 1914 he was 35 years old, a dairy farmer, and the father of four of his eventual nine children. He had responsibilities at home. We don’t know what his views were about the British Empire but as staunch Mormons who regularly hosted Mormon missionaries in their home in South Wairarapa both he and my grandmother were members of a congregation that drew their attention and allegiance more towards the USA than towards England.

On the other hand as a dairy farmer he would have known that he relied on a buoyant New Zealand economy for his livelihood and that depended heavily on continuing sales of primary produce into a stable British market.

Grandfather Fred of East Clive in Hawkes Bay did enlist. He was about the same age as Grandfather Whana and he was a first generation New Zealander born at Waipureku a.k.a. East Clive. His father was born in Cornwall and his mother in Devon. They came to New Zealand in 1872 as economic migrants and they were steadfastly British with an abiding loyalty to Mother England. That loyalty was shared by their many children, most of them born in New Zealand. At the start of the war Fred was a single man working as a bushman. He tried to enlist but was rejected because at 37 he was too old. Over two years later when the NZEF needed more recruits he was accepted, joined the Third Battalion of the NZ Rifle Brigade on the Western Front, was badly wounded at Passchendaele in October 1917, was invalided to London and after he recovered was sent on light duties to the NZ Rifle Brigade rear echelon at Brocton Camp in Staffordshire. There he remained for the rest of the war, met and married Grandmother Gertrude and eventually came back to New Zealand with his wife and daughter towards the end of 1919.

Grandfather Whana died young just a few years before World War II a victim of metabolic diseases brought on by the too rapid adoption of the European lifestyle and the European diet, especially sugar, flour and milk. Ironically it was the European diet that did for far more of our people than the European wars, and continues to do so to this day. The 1918 European influenza epidemic brought home from the war also did for many more Maori than the war itself. Grandfather Whana was involved in local efforts to treat the disease and to contain the epidemic.

My father didn’t enlist for World War II. A few of his wider whanau did but not many. Most of his whanau did not get caught up in the fervour of Sir Apirana Ngata’s drive to recruit and reinforce the 28th Maori Battalion. Our whanau was still not into other peoples’ wars. His best friend, my godfather, did enlist and served on Norfolk Island and then in Italy but in the Army Engineers not in the Maori Battalion. Twenty years on I broke the mould on my Maori side and served in the NZ Army for just over twenty years including active service in Borneo and in South Vietnam.

I march on ANZAC day. But I cringe at the myth making and hype surrounding ANZAC these days. I wonder about the tens of thousands who now turn out to dawn services across New Zealand and Australia. Are they there to mourn or are they there to bask in the hype and to celebrate the mythology fed to them by politicians and media. How many of them really know or fully understand why they are there. I march for simple and clear reasons.

I don’t march in remembrance of the dead of the New Zealand Wars for reasons I will explain later. However I do mourn the loss of land whether through war and confiscation or through questionable sale. But I’m not sure how we might memorialise that, or even if we should.

Grandfather Fred was like a great many men who went to war for New Zealand and Australia who were either born in Britain or were the children of British parents. He would have felt it his bounden duty to rise to the defence of the British Empire. His generation were becoming New Zealanders but still staunchly British. The evolutionary process of becoming New Zealanders actually took us a long time. We didn’t gain NZ citizenship until 1948, thirty years after World War I and three years after World War II. Up until then we were British subjects and from 1948 onwards until 1983 we were British subjects and NZ citizens. I remember as a child in the 1950s that most of my Pakeha schoolmates were still proud to be British subjects.

It is easy to look backwards 100 years after Gallipoli and decry the folly of going to the other side of the world to fight a war that in no way threatened New Zealand’s shores, in campaigns that senselessly slaughtered millions of young men; often badly conceived campaigns. But I see World War I through the perspective of Grandfather Fred and through the perspective of his times. He went out of duty and loyalty to England and to his British Empire. It was his war not someone else’s war. I honour him for that.

He may also have gone for the adventure and to visit the land of his forefathers. Having signed up for a bit of travel and adventure myself 45 years later I can understand that too.

Too many of today’s talking heads who comment about the relevance of ANZAC and the mythology of ANZAC are walking in their own comfortable shoes instead of in the boots of those World War I warriors. Not that I disagree with all of the commentary about ANZAC mythology but to be understood history has to be perceived through the eyes of its participants or observers, not just from the distance of 100 years and through the lens of modern ideology. I try to see World War I through the eyes of my grandfathers.

So in this second decade of the 21st Century what do I think of ANZAC?

I grew up with ANZAC. As a school cadet in the 1950s and early 1960s I was proud to be a uniformed member of catafalque parties at country memorials on ANZAC Day. When I was a teenager in uniform World War II was just ten years gone, the Korean War had just ended and the Malayan Emergency was still going. Grandfather Fred, veteran of World War I, died about that time well into his eighties. ANZAC Day was a funeral, not a celebration of anything except perhaps the lives of those who died. It was a mourning of the dead including the very recent dead by families, comrades and communities.

All of those war memorials in cities, towns and villages were not erected to glorify war or to glorify sacrifice or to celebrate the defence of freedom and liberty, or to promote militarism. They were erected as substitute tombstones for the thousands of soldiers who lie buried in foreign lands, some in unmarked graves. Lacking graves and headstones and the ability to travel to where the dead lay they became the focus of mourning. ANZAC Day was not about celebrating a failed campaign in the Dardanelles, or the mythical founding of a nation or a celebration of democratic values or the gallantry of the ANZAC soldier. All of that is legend or mythology. ANZAC Day was a service for the dead. Its ritual was and is still the solemn ritual of a military funeral.

It was also and remains an annual reunion for those whose incredibly strong bonds of trust, brotherhood and comradeship were forged in war. Only the veteran knows the power and the strength of that bond. In that sense everyone else is an onlooker or a bystander.

That remains for me the meaning of ANZAC Day. I remember and honour the dead and the physically and psychologically wounded of all wars. I honour too all who fought in those wars especially those whanau and friends who have since faded away. Regardless of the strategic, political and economic necessity or futility of those wars I honour the casualties of the wars, both the dead and the living. I remember and honour Grandfather Fred.

I honour also Grandfather Whana’s and my father’s decisions not to fight other peoples’ wars. Their loyalties rightly lay elsewhere.

For me the debate about the necessity or futility of war, past, present and future is for every other week of the year. Raising that debate in ANZAC week even in response to the maddening hype and mythology is just as inappropriate as the hype and mythology itself. Like the tangihanga itself ANZAC week is a time for restraint and respect.

However in that larger debate I do decry the political and commercial appropriation of ANZAC for base motives that dishonour the dead. We should read the academic military historians to learn the unadorned facts about ANZAC. But their work does not seep into popular consciousness. Not many are interested. What does pass as fact is the work of popular historians who perpetuate and reinforce the propaganda and mythology of ANZAC and who along with politicians and the media distort reality and so shape false perceptions for the next generations.

So what about mourning say, the dead of the New Zealand Wars, as well as the dead of the more recent wars.

Well, down our way Grandfather Whana’s father and grandfather didn’t go to war to try to keep their lands. They didn’t have a strong enough military base. They lost their lands mostly but not always by reluctant sale. The New Zealand Wars like the later World Wars were other peoples’ wars. Indeed some of the tribes who did fight actually fought on the side of the settler government. And some of those were also the tribes who made the greatest contributions to the Maori Battalion of World War II. No doubt they had their reasons but it might not be profitable to mine that seam too deep.

Some forty years before the New Zealand Wars our rohe was infested by marauding hapu during the Musket Wars attempting to dispossess our many hapu of our lands. They initially succeeded but were eventually repulsed as we acquired muskets and as the missionaries intervened. No doubt some of my tipuna would not have been at all inclined to mourn the dead of those invading hapu in the New Zealand Wars. We don’t all share a common history.

So I’m a bit ambivalent about commemorating other tribes’ wars whatever side they fought on. But if those tribes want to set aside their own day of mourning that’s OK by me. Mourning the loss of land might be something we could have in common. It would be a bit like mourning the loss of lives in war I suppose. It sounds like a good idea but it’s a bit more complex than it sounds.

Should we really set aside a day to mourn what divided my two grandfathers, or seek instead to celebrate what joins us. Much modern day ANZAC belief lies in the myth that New Zealand came of age, or achieved nationhood on the World War I battlefields, especially Gallipoli. Of course it’s pure rubbish. Grandfather Whana’s people were here in this land for some 700 hundred years before Gallipoli. Grandfather Fred’s people were here for about 150 years before Gallipoli. We try to celebrate the joining of these two strands of migration on Waitangi Day, not very successfully because we are still divided over what Waitangi means to the nation as a whole. Grandfather Whana seems to be pulling in one direction and Grandfather Fred in another.

They never met but as men of the land I’m sure they would have found much in common. A shared love of the land perhaps; the farmer and the bushman. Neither of them was much interested in politics. Grandfather Fred like most of his generation didn’t much like Maori. He did change his attitude a bit after he acquired a Maori son-in-law and Maori mokopuna. Incidentally he didn’t much like Catholics either and didn’t ever approve of his Pakeha Catholic son-in-law. Those were his times. Grandfather Whana didn’t go to war but I’m sure he would have understood and honoured Grandfather Fred’s decision. He did after all name one of his daughters Lemnos Mudros after the island and its harbour from where the Gallipoli campaign was launched. It’s a mystery. I’ve no idea why but he did.

I’ve no idea either how we might celebrate the real birth of this nation formed primarily from twin strands of migration through a clash of cultures, a short period of armed conflict in some parts, a long period of inter-cultural political and economic turmoil in most parts, and an even longer aftermath through which we are still finding our way. Perhaps if we’re patient the answer will in time reveal itself. Perhaps it will be in finally cutting the ties to monarchy and all it represents and in the birth of a new republic. Our day of celebration of nationhood might lie not in the past but in the future.

In the meantime let ANZAC Day remain simply a mourning for our dead in the conflicts where a lot of us fought on the same side, for whatever reason.

Lest we forget.

A Longhouse in Borneo

Hunting, gathering and living with the Dayak.

In the time before the Pakeha, in the time before colonisation, before settlement, do we really know how we were. In the time before Abel Tasman sailed into Mohua (Golden Bay) in December 1642.

What do we really know about how it was over 300 years ago. Our only term of reference is the here and now, and our own imaginations about how it might have been, based perhaps on a few stories and maybe on some old books, drawings, paintings or even on early photographs. But we don’t know do we. Sir Peter Buck and other anthropologists have documented the material culture of those times and Elsdon Best has descibed the old religion and a great deal more. F.E. Maning and others wrote about the experiences of “Pakeha Maori”. But mostly I think we just imagine what it might have been like.

My term of reference is a longhouse in the jungle in Borneo, the home of a group of indigenous hunter gatherers who were still living a mostly traditional lifestyle. I lived with them for a while in 1966. The Dayak are part of the Austronesian people, a broad ancestral grouping  that includes the Malayo Polynesians.

Although the Dayak people are distantly related to Maori their life and lifestyle were not the same as those of our ancestors. To start with they live in a tropical jungle whereas here in Aotearoa we have the seasons to contend with including the sometimes harsh winters and the winter shortage of food. So food resources are different and food is central to the life of the hunter gatherer. Although similar in origin their religious and cultural practices have evolved on a separate path for a few thousand years. Despite that however there are many similarities in the lives and lifestyles of hunter gatherers everywhere.

I was in the state of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo with the 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment on active duty during Indonesia’s “Konfrontasi” war against Malaysia. Our job was to protect part of the border between the two countries to prevent any incursions across the border by regular Indonesian troops or by irregular insurgents. Three of our rifle companies were in defended positions near the border and patrolled along the border. Our company was in reserve with battalion headquarters. We were used on various tasks throughout the whole battalion area of operations. As a rifle platoon commander one of the tasks I was given by the battalion commander was to live with the local indigenous Dayak people on a “hearts and minds” mission to gain their confidence as well as to act as a guard platoon across the area I was allocated. The area was thought by Intelligence to sit across an incursion route used by irregular insurgents.

There were four longhouses or Dayak villages in that area and I split my platoon into four patrols each one based in one of the longhouses. A longhouse is just that. It is a long narrow house on raised hardwood stilts about six to eight feet high off the ground. It is usually about 100 metres long but there are some that are much longer; up to 500 metres. The longhouse I stayed in was built on a slightly elevated terrace above a small river and about 50 metres from it. A longhouse consists of a row of individual family rooms. There were about 15 families and 15 rooms in our longhouse. Running the complete length of the longhouse in front of the family rooms was a verandah about six feet wide. Each family room had a door onto the verandah. At one end of the longhouse the verandah widened out onto a community deck in place of a family room where various gatherings were held. At the other end and removed from the main longhouse was a balai or round house on stilts. It was the trophy house and single men’s quarters.

I sent my other three patrols off to their allotted longhouses and with my six man patrol walked into the jungle to our longhouse. When we arrived later in the day we were greeted as is usual in Borneo by a small ceremony that involved drinking tuak or rice wine. Too much of that stuff can give you a powerful hangover.

After the formalities and introductions we were made welcome and shown to our sleeping quarters in the balai. I mentioned that the balai was a trophy house. The trophies were human heads. The Dayak of Borneo had for generations been head hunters and had only in recent decades, we hoped, given up the practice. But they still kept their trophies. During World War II the Japanese treated the indigenous people in Borneo very badly and many of them fought on the side of the allies. We thought that a few of the heads looked Japanese.

They would remove the skull then smoke the head until it was preserved and shrunk to about the size of a softball. Then the teeth were sewn back in. The heads hung by their hair all over the rafters, hundreds of eyeless heads looking down upon us. There were too many to hang on the rafters so the rest were in big cane baskets hanging high on the walls. The walls were made of atap or palm leaves and in the evening the breeze would blow through and cool the balai. And set thousands of teeth chattering.

We were four Maori and two Pakeha. When we saw where we would be living the Pakeha weren’t the only ones who were white. My guys refused to stay in there. They decided to stay out in the jungle where we usually lived when we were on patrol. I wasn’t very happy about it either but we were there to live with the Dayak according to their tikanga so we had no choice. I was not a popular officer until we got used to it but we slept in there the whole time we lived in the longhouse. No-one got much sleep for the first few nights.

The people of the longhouse

Once we were settled in we joined in the routine of the longhouse and became part of the clan. The tuai rumah (rangatira) and his manang (tohunga) took us under their wing and helped us to settle in and get to know the people.

In our battalion area there were a lot of Christian longhouses of various types. None of the four longhouses in my platoon area had converted and they were all described as animist or pagan. Their religion was the old indigenous religion. One of the clear differences we noticed between the two was that when we arrived at a Christian longhouse the patrol leader would usually be offered the hospitality of one of the tuai rumah’s daughters. They never seemed offended when I declined their kind offers. That offer was never made in a “pagan” longhouse. Which I thought was an enlightening difference between Christians and “Pagans” in Borneo.

Apart from the trophies in the balai there were a few other things that took a bit of getting used to. They kept pigs, dogs and chickens as they traditionally did all over South East Asia, Melanesia and Polynesia. The chickens were eaten but the pigs and dogs weren’t. The dogs were actually sacred animals and were never laughed at or mistreated in any way. It took us a while to work out the role of the pigs but we cottoned on. There were no toilets at all. When you wanted a tutae you went out behind the longhouse and after you’d finished the pigs and dogs would have a kai and clean up after you. Very practical and hygienic.

The day would start with a small meal and then everyone would go about their daily duties. Some of the women would sweep and clean the rooms and the verandah, and clean up around the outside of the longhouse, and some would go out gathering food. The men would also gather food and might go hunting once or twice a week. That only took up a few hours each day for the jungle is rich in foodstuffs. The rest of the day might be spent in conviviality or maintaining the longhouse by repairing walls and thatched roofs. Late afternoon we would all head down to the river and bathe before dinner. In the evenings we would all gather on the verandah to eat followed by talking, singing, story-telling and dancing.

We were there as a guard platoon so we would also go out on patrol most days for an hour or two. After we got to know and trust our hosts some of them would come with us as our eyes and ears. It was their territory and they knew it intimately. After a while we realised that we didn’t need to patrol because they knew when anything moved in their territory and they would let us know if strangers were coming.

Gathering food was the main activity during the day. The two staples in their diet were the tapioca root and sago starch from the sago palm. They were not processed into the small balls like frogs eggs that we buy in the supermarket. Tapioca is also known as cassava, yuca and manioc. It was the only crop that they grew. The root had a purple skin and when they boiled the root for a meal it ended up like a purple slimy jelly that was difficult to eat with your fingers. It was nutritious and a source of energy. For a few days while we were there we helped them clear a patch of jungle and prepare the ground for planting tapioca. It was probably the hardest work we did while we were there but it wasn’t too hard.

The sago palm grows wild and about once a week the men would go into the jungle, cut one down and bring it back to the longhouse. The trunk was then split and we scraped out the white pith. It was generally used as a type of flour. Apart from the two staples we ate just about anything that moved including monkeys, snakes, bats and fish. Red ants were a delicacy. We would hold a flaming torch under the ants nest in a tree and catch them in a big banana leaf as they fell out. They would be fried as a crunchy treat for the children and for curious soldiers. But the real delicacy was the juvenile larva that looked like small white huhu. They would be picked off the leaf and eaten straight away.

We ate the bananas of course. The women would gather a variety of fruits and berries from the jungle. Our favourite vegetable was kangkong which is a cross between a spinach and water cress that grows near swamps and creeks. When we were on patrol in Borneo we carried our food with us in 24 hour ration packs. It got boring and there was no fresh food so we would always stop to pick kangkong when we came across it.

One time we were talked into going on a big hunt. The Dayak men were armed with blowpipes and old shotguns and they wanted us to take our military rifles and the Bren light machine gun, especially the machine gun. Mostly they wanted to see our weapons in action but they thought we might be able to shoot more game than they could with their shotguns. We all headed for the top of a valley and all the young people from the longhouse started down in the valley and drove the game up to us. We shot a few monkeys and when a bear appeared they insisted that we shoot it with the machine gun, so we did. That was the highlight of their hunt. The next night they boiled up that bear and the whole longhouse had a feast. It was really tough but they seemed to enjoy it.

One of my guys had done a cooking course. He had brought a supply of flour and a steel ammunition box with him. He made an oven out of the box. His first loaf of bread was greeted with amazement. Not just by the Dayaks.

The evenings were enjoyable. The Dayak had two main dances. One was performed by the adult men and it was a fighting dance with their parangs. The parang is a long steel jungle knife very useful for chopping in the jungle and also a lethal weapon. The dance was elaborate and choreographed a fight with the parang. As a dance it was ceremonial but was also used to instruct in the techniques of parang fighting. We learnt how to do it but nowhere near as proficient as the Dayak. The women’s dance was the bilangi and it was a bird dance modelled on some long extinct big eagle. It involved quite an intricate dance step and the women were amazed that I could do it straight away. It was the same as one of the steps we used to do at the local rock and roll dances when I was a teenager!

The music was provided by a set of brass gongs hung from a long branch. They ranged from the big one almost as tall as a man down to the small one about 12 inches across. In full performance they could be heard in neighbouring longhouses. The gongs were part of all ceremony, ritual and celebration. The drinking of copious quantities of tuak was also part of ceremony, ritual and celebration.

The first ceremony we participated in was the one in which I was granted the status of tuai rumah to sit alongside their tuai rumah. They were probably just flattering me but the ceremony was real. My group sat on one side of the verandah facing the adult males on the other side. The gongs were gonging and the Dayak people were chanting. A live chicken was brought onto the verandah and waved over my head then it was killed and prepared straight away to be cooked. All the while we were served tuak. The drinking went on while the chicken was cooked and while we ate it. During the ceremony they decked me out in a headdress with feathers and with a few other items including a sash I had seen the tuai rumah wearing.

A few years later I read an account of a ceremony in Vietnam, 1000 kilometres away, that was exactly the same ceremony. An Australian Army officer was raising and training an army of Montagnard hill tribesmen to fight against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. He was working with the Rhade people who lived in longhouses and his induction ceremony was exactly the same as mine. The two groups of indigenous people were separated by 1000 km and a perhaps a thousand years of separate evolution but had retained exactly the same ceremonies.

The next ceremony of note was a marriage ceremony. Ours. I mentioned that the so called “Pagan” Dayaks did not offer their daughters as hospitality. But they did have their eyes on us.

This evening we were lined up sitting on one side of the verandah, the six of us, and the tuai rumah sat the seven young marriageable women in the longhouse on the other side of the verandah facing us. The ceremony proceeded with the gongs gonging and the young women serving us our food and tuak. Then the tuai rumah sprung his surprise. We were being married and we had to choose a wife each! Quick thinking Ross. So I said there were six of us and seven of them and one would be left out and we couldn’t offend her so thank you very much but no thank you. The old guy just laughed and said you’re now a tuai rumah, you choose two for yourself.

A couple of my guys seemed quite willing to comply but I managed to get us out of that predicament without offending the young women or the rest of the longhouse.

This whole ceremony was not really about us. In stationary or nomadic hunter gatherer groups there is always a need to refresh the gene pool to prevent inbreeding. To do that the young women would be exchanged with women from other groups in arranged pairings. We presented an opportunity for our young women to be partnered without leaving their longhouse. I don’t think any of my guys later took advantage of the offer but you never can tell. I can guarantee that I didn’t. True e hoa ma, true.

The author right rear with two patrol members, Norm Smith and Bruce Purdom, and our volunteer interpreter, Tuai Rumah front right, Manang front left, and six of the seven young ladies

While patrolling in Borneo we always carried our medical kit and at the longhouses we visited our platoon medic would treat any minor ailments and wounds. It was a popular service. Any serious cases we came across would get sent out by helicopter, or vehicle if there was a road nearby. We provided the same service at our longhouse.

One night a midwife sent for me. I woke up and went to one of the rooms where there was a woman in labour. She was in difficulty and the midwives couldn’t help. So I sent for my medic in the balai and for my radio set. We radioed back to battalion headquarters and had the doctor woken and brought to the radio. The medic described what was happening and the doctor proceeded to diagnose what it was over the radio and to explain the history and frequency of the condition. The woman was in severe muscular spasm around the birth canal and the baby was prevented from birthing. Basically the medic had to massage in exactly the right places until the spasms stopped, and the midwives had to help by encouraging the mother to relax and reassuring her that all would be well. We had the doctor on the radio for about two hours and in the end it was a successful birth. The midwives were amazed. Such is the life of a soldier.

We lived in the longhouse for a few weeks and when the time came to leave it was quite sad. We had grown to like each other. I asked the battalion commander to send in a 44-gallon drum of kerosene and a hand pump to fuel their lamps and stoves for a few months. It was winched in by helicopter and was much appreciated.

We left a short while later after a ceremony of farewell. As we were leaving the tuai rumah approached me with an offer. He wanted to buy one of my soldiers. He was a tall, young, blonde and handsome Ngai Tahu and the longhouse wanted to keep him to breed from. Tuai rumah offered me 100 ringgit or Malaysian dollars. I accepted and sold him. I don’t know why but Mac would have none of it and insisted that I give back the money. He came out with us. To this day I still give him heaps about reneging on my deal.

Some of the longhouse people came with us for a few hours until we reached the road head where we were picked up by truck. The seven young women were among them. Our packs and weapons were carried all the way for us and the parting was genuinely sad. We went back to our regular operations and got on with our patrolling duties and never went back to our longhouse.

Just over six months later we were in another war in another country; Vietnam.

Borneo and our stay in the longhouse was the highlight of my 20 year military career. I was just 22 years old at the time. Many years later as I hear Maori pontificating wisely on traditional life before settlement and colonisation I smile and remember my real experience living the hunter gatherer life as it really was.

Operation 8: The police raid at Parnell that got stopped in the High Court

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

We were raided at Parnell in Auckland on Monday October 15th 2007, exactly six years ago. It was part of the NZ Police’s Operation 8 “terrorist” raids at Ruatoki and elsewhere. There were raids on approximately 60 houses and premises around the country.

You can read about fifteen of those raids in a book edited by Valerie Morse, one of those raided, arrested and imprisoned that day (“The day the raids came: Stories of survival and resistance to the state terror raids“, Rebel Press, 2010). It includes the stories of the four known in the media as the “Urewera Four” who were the only ones who eventually went to trial in 2012.

Like many other raids all over the motu you didn’t read about this one in Parnell or see it on the TV. There was a good reason you didn’t see this one on TV. We took the police straight into the High Court, stopped the raid, and got a suppression order to prevent any publicity.

We had been in Tuhoe country for a few days before the raids, at my brother’s tangihanga at Tuai near Lake Waikaremoana, and got back to Auckland fairly late on the Sunday. At the time our company’s office was in Parnell and I had a small apartment downstairs from the office. I made it upstairs to the office about 9am. Some of my staff were already at their desks. It was a normal Monday morning at work.

Then I took a phone call from Wellington and was told to turn on the TV and watch a police operation in the Urewera. My caller also asked after one of my staff who had connections down there. He wasn’t at work and it didn’t take long for me to realise that he was probably one of the targets of Operation 8. Like thousands of others we watched that very public operation unfold. It seemed to me that a professional media campaign was an integral part of Operation 8 and that the police were deliberately imprinting their narrative into the public mind as part of the operation, before any other narrative could emerge. My media advisors agreed.

Just after midday three carloads of police drove up and parked outside the office. I saw them from my office window and went downstairs to meet them. They were CIB detectives and personnel from the Electronic Crimes Laboratory rather than the heavily armed faceless paramilitaries we were all watching on TV. They were led by Detective Wayne Bailey and Detective Joe Tipene, both Maori. Wayne showed me their search warrant and assured me that they were not armed. They were wearing the usual protective stab vests. I led them upstairs to the office.

The search warrant was a huge 20 page document. It listed all the items that the police were searching for including weapons, military equipment, clothing and computers. There were pages and pages of lists of things they were looking for. It was obviously an “omnibus” warrant that they were using right across the country. Most of it could not have been relevant to the raid on my office. There was no evidence at all that any of that stuff was in our building. It was a ridiculous warrant. It was also a lazy warrant and a shoddy piece of staff work, with nothing specific about what they expected to find at our location. There was this short paragraph about seizing computers.

  • All computer hardware and software necessary to gain access to data or programs contained on the storage media,
  • All computer storage media including ‘floppy’ diskettes, tapes, hard drives, and other devices containing programs or data,
  • All leads/cables and peripheral equipment necessary for the proper operation of the computer system,
  • All documentation including manuals, guides and other references which provide information necessary for proper operation of the computer hardware, software and peripheral equipment.

They herded us into our boardroom and told us that’s where we were to stay while they searched the premises. Wayne Bailey was in charge of the operation and he sat with us at the boardroom table taking notes. A policewoman photographer took photos of everything, including all the Maori art on the walls and tables. She seemed especially interested in the art. Maybe she was an art lover too. Or thought we were art thieves.

It soon became obvious that they weren’t looking for any of the weapons, clothing and equipment that made up most of the warrant. The detectives were there to allow the electronic crimes people to attack our IT network and computers. The first thing they did was turn off our connection to the internet and forbade us from going anywhere near our network. I realised then that only the one short paragraph of that voluminous warrant was applicable to us. The bit about computers. The rest of the 20 page search warrant was absolute rubbish, and they knew it. It was a fishing expedition, looking for anything that might justify what they had enacted at Ruatoki and elsewhere.

I also thought that in that case the warrant might have been illegal and that whoever had obtained the warrant from the Court might have perjured himself.

The electronic crimes people were not sworn policemen and were led by a German fellow. He seemed to us quite nasty. We found out later that he had been a NZ policeman before joining the electronic crimes laboratory and that even some of his colleagues thought he was a nasty piece of work. We nicknamed him and called him “Fritz” to his face, which didn’t endear us to him at all. Fritz’s real name revealed in the Crown Indictment of 2012 was Juergan Arndt.

It came to me that this was the same Fritz who had a score to settle with one of my employees. About three years earlier Fritz had tried and failed to have my man charged with computer hacking, a benign petty offence about defacing a political website on the information super highway. My man would never do that of course. But it would be about as criminal as defacing a political billboard on any other highway but the police have convinced the parliament that it is a serious crime. It gives them something to do. So Fritz might have had another agenda apart from Operation 8 – a little bit of unfinished business.

We found out that Fritz planned to seize every computer and hard drive he could find. That would have been over twenty five computers and servers and would have put us out of business. I did my calculations and worked out that with our offsite data backups I could recreate the network but that it would cost over $70,000 and take weeks to get back into business.

In the meantime we amused ourselves poking fun at them. Part of police method is to impose themselves, physically and psychologically, on the people and situations they are dealing with. Intimidation is another way of describing it. We saw on the TV and heard later from the media and from the Tuhoe people how that tactic had been applied in extremis down there. In our case it was mild by comparison. But being who we are we were having none of it anyway.

One of my sub-contractors arrived and was directed into the boardroom. He was the only Pakeha who worked out of our office. My business manager introduced him to the detective and told him that he was a Pakeha, and to be careful because Pakeha were dangerous. He was not amused.

Then we heard loud voices coming up the stairs and recognized the voice of Te Awanui Reeder of the Nesian Mystik band (now the famous entertainer Awa). His father worked with us and was in the boardroom. I’d known Awanui since he was a small boy. When he strode into the boardroom he saw Wayne Bailey, greeted him warmly “Hey Bro” and shook his hand. Then he told us that he and Wayne were drinking buddies! Awanui then pointed to his father and told Wayne to arrest him because he was very dangerous. It was hilarious.

One of the Nesian boys was with him and they had come to get my signature on his passport application. Awanui told me that they needed a kaumatua to sign and I was it. I asked Wayne if he realised that I was the Nesian Mystik kaumatua. The look on his face was priceless. They left with my signature after much banter about us being dangerous criminals.

At some point, probably a bit later, I went to my library and got my copy of “Mihaia: The Prophet Rua Kenana And His Community At Maungapohatu”, by Judith Binney, and gave it to Detective Bailey. He said he hadn’t read it and I told him he needed to.

It went on with Detective Bailey doing his best not to laugh or even smile. Eventually he gave in and left the boardroom. He was replaced by a young Pakeha policeman in civvies. I asked him why he wasn’t wearing a stab vest and he said he’d left it at the office. I told him he’d better get one because we were dangerous criminals. He was totally confused by our lack of respect. I felt sorry for the young man.

Throughout the afternoon Detective Bailey tried to get me and my staff to give statements about what we might know about the activities of our co-worker but he met with a wall of silence and outright refusal. And he couldn’t get my people to take the raid seriously.

While all this was going on Fritz and his people were busy locating and labeling every workstation, every server, and every portable hard drive they could find, including equipment downstairs in my apartment. After I realised what they were after and how it would affect my business I tried negotiating with the detectives to get them whatever files they might be after without taking down the business, I knew they were fishing anyway and wouldn’t find anything they were looking for. They consulted by phone with their supervisor Detective Sergeant Mark Gutry and the answer was an emphatic “No”. They were seizing everything.

So I rang the lawyers.

My lawyer was one of the partners in a big law firm and he quickly found another partner to represent me. This one was a former prosecutor, was highly experienced in criminal law and was an expert in the law regarding warrants. I faxed him the warrant. He thought the warrant was probably illegal and was certainly unreasonable as defined in the legislation. He recommended that I go to the High Court to obtain an injunction and I gave him the go ahead. He obtained a hearing for that afternoon, rang Detective Sergeant Gutry to tell him that the operation should stop until the High Court decision was made, and asked me to be at the Court for a hearing at 5.00pm.

My lawyer and Mina Wharepouri who was representing the police met in chambers with Justice Helen Winklemann. Detective Sergeant Gutry and I waited in a waiting room. I gave him an earful and he left to wait somewhere else.

    Detective Inspector Mark Gutry resigned in 2014 as he was being investigated for unlawfully accessing the Police National Intelligence Application twenty times seeking information on a woman who had laid a complaint against him.

It didn’t take long for an interim injunction to be granted with a full court hearing set down for 10.00am the next day. The raid was to stop until the court heard the application. I was to have no access to my technology and a police guard was to be posted in the premises overnight to ensure that I didn’t use it. The police were ordered to produce to the court the next morning the affidavit they had used to obtain the search warrant. We were attacking the warrant.

I went back to my office. A junior lawyer from my legal firm came with me to ensure that the police complied with the terms of the injunction.

By the time we got there the detectives and Fritz and his people had left and were replaced by a uniformed sergeant and a few constables. The sergeant was setting up an overnight guard with two constables in the premises at all times. He had placed one of them in my bedroom where there was a workstation and also a portable hard drive on my work table. I went into the bedroom and started to unhook the computer. The sergeant ordered me to stop but I told him there was no way I was allowing a policeman in my bedroom overnight. I told him I was ex-army and I didn’t trust sailors or policemen. He was not amused. My young lawyer was. So I handed him the computer and the portable hard drive and told him to put it upstairs with the rest of the equipment.

I had a bit of a laugh as well. Sitting on the table next to the labeled portable hard drive was a 60GB iPod. There were no files on the hard drive but all the personal and business backups were on the iPod. Fritz the computer forensics expert hadn’t realised that an iPod is also a hard drive and hadn’t labeled it to be seized.

There was another plainclothes policeman there. We hadn’t seen him earlier. He was big and intimidating. He asked my quite petite lawyer what she was doing there and she let him know she wasn’t intimidated at all. He then took an intimidating stance in front of me and asked me who I was. I looked at the nametag on his chest “Phil Le Compte” and said that’s a Hawke’s Bay family isn’t it. Taken aback he asked me how I knew that. I told him I went to school with a Le Compte and he asked me who that was. He was even more aback when I told him it was Alan Le Compte because it was his father. I said something uncomplimentary about father and son and he left.

You won’t see Phil Le Compte mentioned anywhere else in connection with Operation 8. Detective Sergeant Le Compte was at the time with AMCOS (Auckland Metro Crime and Operations Support) based in Harlech House with the Auckland SIG (Special Investigation Group) which was the lead agency in Operation 8. Le Compte did have a role in Operation 8 and that will be explored in a later article.

The next morning at 8.15 I got a call from the lawyer to say that the police wanted to negotiate an agreement before the full court hearing. They claimed that they didn’t have enough time to redact (blackout) confidential parts of the affidavit before they had to produce it in court. They had about 16 hours to do that between the hearing on 15th October and the full hearing on 16th October, so that was no excuse at all. It was bullshit. I knew then that they absolutely did not want that affidavit to be scrutinized by a high court judge lest the warrant be struck down. That was the same warrant that they were using all over the country and that would have been disastrous for Operation 8 (from their point of view).

My reaction to their raid had obviously taken them completely by surprise and they were scrambling to contain the situation.

Emotionally I was inclined to ignore them and to go straight to court. I was in the right sort of mood to take them to the cleaners regardless of the cost. But logic and reason prevailed as I had a business to protect and staff and their whanau to think of. So we went into conference at 9am at the High Court. My lawyer and I sat down with Detective Sergeant Gutry and his lawyer Mina Wharepouri. The two lawyers had already drawn up an agreement which we signed. Under the agreement:

  • They would not remove any of my computers and drives except for the one computer on my staff member’s desk; the staff member they had already arrested and imprisoned.
  • That computer was to be returned to my office within 72 hours (the police usually keep seized computers for months or even years).
  • The electronic crimes people would be permitted to inspect my file server, under my supervision, to locate and remove any files relevant to Operation 8, specifically files related to an encrypted online chatgroup called AoCafe (I knew that there would be none).
  • The police would facilitate contact with my man in prison so that I could obtain any passwords I might need.

We went into court to wait for the judge.

A feisty woman lawyer walked in for another case entirely. She looked around and remarked that the only criminals she could see were my lawyers, given the outrageous fees they charge. She was right in a way because High Court injunctions don’t come cheap and you have to be prepared to pay whatever it costs to stand up for your rights. Justice doesn’t come cheap.

We sat there twiddling our thumbs waiting for the judge. I told my lawyer I had his waiata ready. Then I asked Mina if his clients were going to sing his waiata. They were not amused. No sense of humour the cops.

It was Justice Winklemann again. She endorsed the agreement we had negotiated. Mina Wharepouri declared in court that the police had no interest whatsoever in me personally. We applied for blanket suppression of anything and everything that would indicate the identity of me or my business, and the location of my business, and it was granted by the judge. That was it.

In writing this piece I have unilaterally lifted that suppression order.

My lawyer remarked to me that it was rare indeed for anyone to bring a police operation to a grinding halt.

Back at the office Detectives Wayne and Joe were back and were very friendly. They seemed quite relieved that things had turned out as they had. Couple of good Maori those two. Then a new more senior contractor from electronic crimes arrived. He was businesslike and courteous and we got on with it. He found five files that he thought might have had some bearing on the case. I knew they wouldn’t and was quite happy for him to copy them. He restored our internet connection and we were in business again. We chatted and established that his father and I had both been majors in the Army and had worked together for a couple of years.

Wayne and Joe came over to hongi and they all left. My man was still behind bars of course.

My lawyer suggested that we ask the police to pay $2,000 towards my legal fees. I would have preferred to sue them for the lot but they would have contested that and it would have cost me a small fortune to recoup a tiny fortune. That same day the police agreed to pay the $2,000. Strategically it was a good move as it was an admission of some sort of liability.

That was almost that. We had some trouble with journalist Jonathon Marshall who was working for the Sunday Star Times. He was trying to get around the suppression order and was hassling me over the phone and had appeared at my office and tried to intimidate my business manager. A phone call from my lawyers to his editor put a stop to his shenanigans, before I got to him with a big stick.

We got the seized computer back from the police within the 72 hour timeline. I was a bit suspicious that they might have loaded it with a bug or two. We took it apart and didn’t find anything but just to be sure we cleaned the hard disks and got rid of it. We donated it to a needy community group!

Over the next few weeks a few right wing bloggers tried to get around the suppression order by mentioning that my man had been employed as an IT manager and inserting links to my company website. So we wrote a script, a small programme, that intercepted any traffic coming to my webserver from those blogsites, and diverted the requests to a spoof website. That website was pretending to be by one of the worst of the bloggers and it was lampooning him mercilessly. Some kind person had conveniently built it right at the time we needed it. We thought that was an elegant strategy.

After we had settled down and got the business back on track we had time to reflect on a few incidents leading up to the raid on 15th October 2007.

Our office cleaner usually arrived at about midnight. One night she disturbed someone in the office, near the computer server room, and whoever it was fled down the stairs and out the door. Which we realised in hindsight was a bit strange because our office was locked and alarmed. Whoever it was would have had to disable the alarm without setting it off. On reflection we thought it was probably the police and they had probably used a warrant to force our security company to disable the alarm for them. Whoever it was would have found that our server room was locked and alarmed as well.

In the week leading up to the raid my sister (who was my business manager) had noticed two suits sitting in a car in our carpark. She used to arrive at work very early and go for a walk. They were there when she arrived about 6am. They were still there when she got back from her walk. She challenged them and they left. However her red car was the one that spent most time in the carpark and we are now fairly sure it was bugged with a GPS locator.

In the few days before the raids when we went to my brother’s tangihanga at Tuai in Tuhoe country she came with me in a rental car. Her daughter and son-in-law drove her red car to Tuai and back. On the way back to Auckland on Sunday 14th October they followed us in the red car. Along the way they were stopped for no reason at all by a police patrol. They were questioned and explained that they were following their mother in her car. The police let them carry on. They thought it was strange at the time.

So we were also under police surveillance leading up to the raids.

I readily acknowledge that our experience was mild compared to others at Ruatoki and elsewhere. We for instance did not have rifles or submachine guns poked in our faces and pointed at the heads of our families. Ours was a minor episode in the whole shocking saga.

But this story is the starting point for a full analysis of Operation 8 in future articles. As a retired army officer and a former intelligence analyst I was very interested in the intelligence analysis that led to the “termination” phase of Operation 8. I then started to collect as much information as I could to analyse the intelligence operation behind Operation 8. I followed the case through the courts to the High Court criminal hearing in 2012 and thence to the Court of Appeal. I did some work for the defence team at the trial.

I early on came to the conclusion that the police operation was incompetent and unprofessional. I concluded that the detectives involved were total amateurs in the field of Intelligence and that their incompetence, and the incompetence of their superiors, had led to a debacle from which they scrambled to extricate themselves. They had the the help of a very professional and strategically canny prosecution lawyer, Mr Ross Burns. The courts have also established that the police had knowingly acted unlawfully in obtaining and executing warrants during the intelligence operation.

This series of articles will describe in detail all of that. And Te Putatara will raise a series of questions that have never before been asked, and certainly not answered.

Links: The Operation 8 Series


A Pilgrimage to Chartres Cathedral

A Maori at Cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

E haere atu na, titiro tonu mai nga kanohi.

The Hukarere Story 1991 – 1995

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

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

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

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

The Reopening & Rededication of a School 1993 – 1995

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What follows was written in 2009.

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

Te Aute Trust Board Group

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

During the period of this narrative the writer was:

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

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

Types of School

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

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

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

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

Short History of Hukarere

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organising to Save Hukarere — 1991/1992

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

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

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

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

Te Whanau O Hukarere

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

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

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

Hukarere Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application to Reopen Hukarere as a Private School

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

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

Reopening Hukarere as a Private School — 1993 to 1995

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Opening

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

Funding a Private School

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

Church Funding and Support

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

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

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

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

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

Koha — Cash and Kind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many others not mentioned above provided cash and kind.

Major Funders

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

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

Other Funds

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

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

Funding Priorities

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

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

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

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

The Hukarere Business Manager

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

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

 A Dilemma — Insolvency

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

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

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

The Total Cost

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

The actual cost would amount to several million dollars.

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

Academic Performance as a Private School

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

Integration – 1995

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early Days of an Integrated School

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Back

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


The Speech is included as a record of the occasion




Apologies & Messages from former Principals.

  • Ruth Flashoff
  • Lucy Hogg
  • Isla Hunter

Apologies from Others

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

Treaty of Waitangi

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

Marginalised and imperfectly observed.

History of Hukarere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hukarere Guarantee

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Nga Tauira

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

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

New Students

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

Old Girls Reunion

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

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

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


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

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

Kei raro.

The Origins of Corporate Iwi

This essay traces the origins of corporate iwi from 1984. The author was personally involved in the formation of the iwi and community provider network and its struggle to attain legitimacy. Much of the information that follows is sourced from the author’s personal diary and journal entries of the time, and from commentary in Te Putatara.

Based on that kaupapa the election of a Labour government in July 1984 and the appointment of Koro Wetere as Minister of Maori Affairs presaged a renewed impetus in Maori development in which were sown the seeds that grew into modern corporate iwi. It was the beginning of transfer of funding, power and responsibility from government agencies to both tribal and community providers.

Sir Apirana Ngata led an early Maori development initiative focused on land, culture, the arts and education. He advocated for the Maori Land Act 1909 under which previously established Maori land incorporations were legislated. Much of his work before and during his time in Parliament (1905-1943) including a period as  Minister of Maori Affairs (1928-34) was focused on land reform and development, including the formation of Maori land incorporations.

Prior to its abolition in 1989 the Board of Maori Affairs was heavily involved in land management  and development through its Maori Land Advisory committees and supported by the Department of Maori Affairs in both advisory and executive functions.  The Department was also providing Maori housing loans and running a very successful trade training scheme. The Maori Trustee had long been involved primarily in land management rather than land development.

The modern drive for economic and social development began in the Department of Maori Affairs and in the Maori Trustee in the early 1980s with further programmes such as Tu Tangata under Secretary Kara Puketapu in the term of a National government. The Department was enthusiastically supported by Maori communities. In 1982 Te Kohanga Reo was established by the Department with 100 kohanga opened in the first year, growing to 800 kohanga by 1994 with 14,000 mokopuna enrolled. The history of that ground brealing initiative is shown in the documentary “Let My Whakapapa Speak”.

However by about 1984 many in the Department and the Trustee saw themselves as the prime movers in development. That was the status quo but many in Te Ao Maori did not share that view.

For instance, when I joined the government development initiative in 1986 I was briefed by the kaumatua of my Wairarapa hapu on our mostly negative history of engagement with both agencies. They asked me to be alert to a repeat of that history. My hapu was not alone in its disquiet.

After its July 1984 election a Labour government convened an economic development conference in October that year; Hui Taumata . Hui Taumata recognized the need for Maori to move from welfare dependency, and for the government to assist Maori to participate in the economy. The conference communiqué, He Kawenata, called for a decade of development.

The Department of Maori Affairs presumption that it would take the lead role in Maori development post-1984 was a misreading of the mood of Hui Taumata. It also led directly to its ill fated and incompetent attempt to negotiate offshore development loans worth hundreds of millions in 1986 (Maori Loans Affair), and ultimately to its dis-establishment in 1989.

By 1986 Minister of Maori Affairs Koro Wetere had negotiated government funding to create a few economic initiatives.

The first was the MANA Enterprises business startup project designed to make low interest loans to fledgling Maori owned businesses. The second was a Maori version of a Labour Department training programme called ACCESS. The Maori version was dubbed MACCESS. It had been known for some time that two key requirements for development were access to capital and improved management and business capability. Both projects were funded by the Labour Department directly to the Board of Maori Affairs rather than the Department of Maori Affairs. The funds were held for the Board in the Maori Trustee account. A further economic development initiative was the Maori Development Corporation set up to act as a venture capital agency.

Wira Gardiner and Ripeka Evans were the two principal consultants who worked with the Minister and the Board to design the MANA and MACCESS projects, to negotiate the funding from government, and then to establish the MANA and MACCESS project teams. In mid 1986 Ross Himona had joined the MANA team and became team leader towards the end of 1986. Ria Earp was recruited by Wira and Ripeka to lead the MACCESS team. MANA was the more controversial of the two and there was a procession of project team leaders.

The kaupapa called for funding for both projects to be delivered through tribal and regional providers. Prior to that all grant, project and programme funding for Maori had been delivered by government agencies, primarily the Department of Maori Affairs through its district offices. There was naturally some resistance within the department and the central and district offices to the creation of a new funding channel not under the control of the department. However there were also many in the department who supported the move.

Until that time the Department of Maori Affairs exerted widespread control over Te Ao Maori. It was the gateway to access to government. Because of its ownership of that gateway it controlled information flow to Te Ao Maori, augmented by its own in-house magazines and its network of community officers. When you control information flows you control everything. Te Putatara was later started in part to defeat that control of information.

Government required all providers in this proposed new funding channel to be incorporated bodies, preferably legislated organisations, to ensure transparency and accountability. At the time almost the only organisations that met the criteria were the existing Maori Trust Boards. An ad hoc delivery mechanism was established consisting of 17 tribal and regional authorities later expanded to 21. They were mostly trust boards, with a few incorporated societies including five urban organisations. The five urban organisations were at Tamaki, Waipareira, Manukau, Whanganui and Wellington. The Waipareira and Manukau organisations still operate in that role.

The Whanganui Regional Employment Board was headed by Tariana Turia. At the time, long before her conversion to the whanau-hapu-iwi construct, she was ardently opposed to tribal delivery. Pita Sharples was the inaugural chairman of Te Runanganui O Ngati Kahungunu, which has since transformed itself via insolvency into Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc.

From mid 1986 seed funding of about $150,000 was distributed to each of the tribal and regional authorities to pilot the MANA Enterprises programme. Between then and the end of 1986 the project was fine tuned ready for the first major distribution of funding. After the pilot the first $9 million was granted and was ready for distribution at the end of 1986.

The Department of Maori Affairs was still trying to gain control of the project to deliver the funding through its district offices. The Board of Maori Affairs project teams who answered directly to two committees of the Board were widely supported in their intention to bypass the department altogether. That was the beginning of a long struggle to remove the department from programme delivery. The department managed to delay distribution of the first $9 million for some weeks towards the end of 1986.

There was another group of very influential players, some of them members of the Board of Maori Affairs and close to Koro Wetere, who were trying to have the funding delivered through non-tribal regional boards to be established under the Board of Maori Affairs itself. They too had no love for the department but equally did not want a tribal system put in place. They persisted into 1987 but gained no traction.

In December 1986 the so-called Maori Loans Affair erupted in Parliament and in the media, fuelled by questions by Winston Peters. The upshot of that was that the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Maori Affairs, Tamati Reedy and Neville Baker, were sent on indefinite leave on Christmas Eve. I was at the hui at Maori Affairs late in the afternoon of Christmas Eve when the State Services Commissioner Don Hunn announced that decision to the department. That took the two main departmental opponents of the tribal and regional delivery channel out of play for a few weeks.

I immediately sought out one of the remaining senior officials who supported the new funding mechanism. Within the hour the $9 million had been moved out of the Maori Trustee account and was on its way to the 17 new providers, to reach their bank accounts ready for them to begin operating the MANA programme in the new year. Until that moment it was likely that the department would prevail.

From early to mid 1987 MACCESS funding followed through the same mechanism. There was much more funding delivered through MACCESS than through MANA and between the two of them they established what eventually became the present system of funding delivery to Maori through tribal and community providers.

A further threat to the new system was Winston Peters who attacked both projects, and of course their sponsor in government, Koro Wetere. Early in 1987 I rang Winston and did a deal with him. He agreed to give me 6 months grace to get MANA Enterprises established and to ensure that accountability and transparency were in place. At the end of that period of grace he resumed his political attacks on both MANA and MACCESS.

The department persisted in its attempts to regain control and did manage to move the MANA and MACCESS teams out of the Board of Maori Affairs into its own direct control.

It mounted attacks on a few of the providers including Tamaki Maori Development Authority, Te Arawa Trust Board and Tainui Trust Board. A few of the providers, including Tamaki and Te Arawa, had tried to establish trade ties in the Pacific. Their private trade missions were monitored by diplomatic and intelligence staff in the Pacific and they were defunded by the Department of Maori Affairs.

I was working closely with Tamaki Maori Development Authority at the time of the Department’s attack which was led by Neville Baker. Like most of the new tribal and regional providers Tamaki was a bit rough around the edges as it developed expertise but was not guilty of the allegations against it. John Tamihere was working for the Department in Auckland at that time. John has since of course carved out a career with Waipareira and is now facing his own real problems. Tamaki won the support of the courts in their case against the Department but were never compensated for the personal and organisation losses caused by the Department.

The attack on Te Arawa was under the guise of allegations of a “2nd Maori Loans Affair”. I was also working closely with Te Arawa at the time and the alleged offshore loan was news to us on the economic development project team. There were also groundless allegations of improper MANA loans being made.

The Tainui Maori Trust Board under the guidance of Robert Mahuta was resolutely heading in its own direction and making its own decisions, tending to ignore the Department.

The 1987 parliamentary maiden speech of Ross Meurant (Hansard, Tuesday October 6th, 1987), who until then had served twenty years in the NZ Police rising to the commissioned rank of Inspector, laid out in great detail the paranoia and fears of Maori terrorism in the police at that time. He named names and organisations, and described how they were funded. He also alleged that Maori had terrorist links with Libya, the PLO, Vanuatu and Fiji. This information and its paranoid interpretation was sourced entirely in police intelligence gathering . To his great credit Meurant, having educated himself and broadened his mind at university and in the real world outside the police and parliament,  has since recanted and explained that the allegations arose out of a police culture of paranoia that he called “Deep in the Forest” in which he had been immersed for twenty years.

There were also rumours circulating in the community, notably in the more fundamentalist churches, that MANA and MACCESS funding was being used to fund criminal and terrorist activity. At about that time a renegade officer from the NZ Security Intelligence Service, who was a member of one of those fundamentalist churches, illegally tried to recruit an informant within the MANA and MACCESS teams. The attempt was made despite his having being ordered by Director SIS to cease his surveillance of Maori. His attempt to infiltrate the teams was thwarted.

As well as fears of criminal and even terrorist infiltration of the funding network many believed that Te Ao Maori was being manipulated by the CIA to destabilise the Labour government. For instance it was reported in the media and believed by some in government that a large US defence industry corporation that was partnering with Te Arawa Trust Board to install IT systems was really a CIA front. There were fears, expressed in the media, that the foreign principals involved in the so-called Maori Loans Affair of 1986 had been CIA operatives.

Throughout 1987 and 1988 there were tensions in the Pacific that added to the overall paranoia in New Zealand. There were two coup d’etat in Fiji, bloodshed in New Caledonia, and there were fears that Maori were linking up with separatist movements in the Pacific. The US and New Zealand governments were also monitoring the activities of the Soviets and the Libyans in the Pacific, fearful that they might support separatist movements. There was also a suspicion that Maori were linking with South Africa and Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC).

Security threats were conceived out of thin air and believed, no matter how remote or ridiculous they might have been, and Maori were invariably woven into the narrative . The tribal and regional authority network was established in that climate, one of intense racism and paranoia.

The Department of Maori Affairs itself, or at least a few at the top, also became increasingly paranoid. As well as operating within the external climate of paranoia it was losing respect and authority and power. Te Putatara did its bit to refine their paranoia.

Tribal and community delivery of funding to Maori somehow managed to survive, and eventually to flourish. As the late Sir Robert Mahuta said at the time, “the genie had been let out of the bottle”. It all seems quite surreal, twenty five years on.

To retain its grip on Maori development the department tried to make all providers agents of the Crown, directly answerable to the department, rather than independent contractors, and for a time they prevailed. In the end they failed and the department was disestablished in 1989 when the Iwi Transition Agency headed by Wira Gardiner (now Sir Wira) was established.

Te Putatara was accused by some department officials of being responsible for their downfall, through a long running campaign in the newsletter. They were far too generous in their praise. Their own “Maori Loans Affair” was a big factor in their demise.

Both the MANA and MACCESS projects eventually went the way of all programmes to Programme Heaven (Whanau Ora has a priority reservation). However the principle was established and funding delivery had been torn from the grasp of the department.

Probably the next major and long lasting initiative was the establishment of the network of Maori health providers by the new and short lived Ministry of Maori Policy. The officials who set up that network had been involved in MACCESS. By that time MACCESS was on its way out or had already gone. The core Maori health network was built around those providers who had operated MACCESS. In the beginning many of them were short on health knowledge and expertise but they were intent on mission transformation and funding capture. To give them their due over time they and many new providers did transform themselves into professional primary health providers. The ropey ones fell by the wayside.

One of the little understood but important initiatives was the delivery of health funding by contract to independent and autonomous providers instead of by funding agreement to agencies of the Crown. That moved more control and independence to the providers.

The rest is history as that ad hoc network of iwi providers evolved quite rapidly into autonomous and independent entities.

On the back of those initial steps in 1986 and 1987 towards tribal and community programme delivery the legislative course of that evolution started with a discussion paper “He Tirohanga Rangapu” in April 1988, followed by the government response to that consultation “Te Urupare Rangapu” in November 1988. That outlined the proposal to establish a new Ministry of Maori Policy and an Iwi Transition Agency. The Runanga-A-Iwi Bill was introduced in December 1989, and the National Government’s policy was published as “Ka Awatea” in 1991.

Policy development and implementation during that period has been documented by Cherryl Waerea-I-Te-Rangi Smith in her University of Auckland masters thesis “Kimihia Te Maramatanga”. Chapter 5 is downloadable here.

The fisheries settlements followed by Treaty settlements required that tribal organisations transform themselves into mandated iwi. Today they are tribal businesses or corporate iwi. Together with a plethora of non-tribal providers, Maori fisheries entities, Maori broadcasters, and with the Maori land incorporations that were in place long before, they form a fast growing Maori employment and career sector that did not exist 25 years ago.

In retrospect I often think that given the present state of Maori development characterized by resource capture by the elites, and doubtful benefit to the majority of Maori, I would not again help in the process of establishing iwi providers. Given the choice I would instead focus on hapu, closer to the people. By hapu I mean both traditional hapu in the tribal homelands and new hapu in the cities where most Maori live. The ideology behind the reinvention of iwi lay in the whanau-hapu-iwi post-colonial construct. However at the time there was barely enough expertise available to establish iwi providers let alone hapu providers.

And at the time the main thing was to wrest control of Te Ao Maori from the Department of Maori Affairs. Its demise in 1989 was a welcome bonus.

Te Kohanga Reo was and is a project aimed exclusively at whanau rather than hapu or iwi, controlled and coodinated by Te Kohanga Reo National Trust. The Trust has been through its challenges but remains committed to that kaupapa. There have been attempts from time to time by the some of the new corporate iwi to wrest ownership of kohanga from the Trust.

Ironically the organisation that was displaced by corporate iwi (and the Iwi Chairs Forum and Iwi Leaders Groups) as the political voice of Maori  actually was representative of hapu rather than iwi, and also represented urban Maori. The NZ Maori Council with it’s Maori Committees in sixteen District Maori Councils was more representative than the corporate iwi network. The rural Maori Committees were mostly marae based (traditional hapu) and the urban Maori Committees represented the new urban hapu. Delegates from the Commiittees sat at the District Maori Councils and delegates from there sat at the NZ Maori Council.

If their language and focus had been on rural and urban hapu instead of committees they may well have flourished in the new development environment.

The NZ Maori Council did take the leading role in obtaining recognition of Treaty rights in the courts and in gaining national pan-Maori settlements.

The problem with the NZ Maori Council was that at the national level it was perceived as being prone to cronyism and controlled by the old generation Brown Table. It did not renew itself from 1984 onwards to bring into the fold the activists who were creating the new paradigm in Maori politics. It did not reach out to the rising new generation of Maori leadership. The exception was the Auckland District Maori Council under Professor Ranginui Walker which did reach out and include the new generation. Like the Department of Maori Affairs the NZ Maori Council assumed that it would continue as the representive voice of Te Ao Maori. They both seriously misread the mood of the times.

In the long run however nothing much changes. The new Brown Table is made up of corporate iwi represented by the Iwi Chairs Forum and its Iwi Leaders Groups. The difference is that it is much less representative at its flaxroots than the old Brown Table. A new more elitist elite has replaced the old elite. Ka hao te rangatahi.



The Maori Women's Development Fund

Yesterday Tainui Stephens posted a photo of himself and Dame Georgina Kirby on Facebook. I haven’t seen her in ages but it reminded me of the time in 1987 when the Maori Women’s Development Fund was started. It is now Maori Women’s Development Inc.

Back then Georgina was president of the Maori Women’s Welfare League and a member of the Board of Maori Affairs. The Board had started the MANA Enterprises business startup project in 1986 and in 1987 was in the process of rolling it out to a network of tribal and regional providers. At the time I was the project team leader. Occasionally Georgina would invite me (command me) to the League office in Thorndon, Wellington for breakfast and a korero.

This one time the korero was about opportunities for women in business. I was an attentive listener because I too had noticed that almost all of the low interest loan funding was going to men. Oftentimes the men were good at what they did but were lousy bookkeepers and we would urge then to involve their wives in the business because often the wives were smarter and would make better financial managers. None of them took our advice of course.

What Georgina wanted to do was use some of the MANA Enterprise funding to create a fund exclusively for women. I told her to write a proposal and send it to me. She had a better idea. So I wrote the proposal right there and then. It was a very good proposal even if I say so myself. Georgina had it typed up and packaged into a very smart proposal and sent it to me that same day.

Guess what. I got this excellent proposal from the president of the Maori Women’s Welfare League and processed it. That involved checking out the kaupapa, the criteria for loans, the transparency and accountability mechanisms, and all that stuff. Proposals from the tribal and regional providers were usually lacking in some respects and were often sent back for improvement. But this one was perfect; tribute I suppose to the greater insight and ability of our womenfolk.

I analysed it and added my recommendations. At the next meeting of the Board of Maori Affairs MANA Enterprises Committee, just a day or so later, Georgina spoke to her proposal and I spoke to my recommendations. I think the committee members were impressed. And it was approved.

Now I don’t take any credit for the Maori Women’s Development Fund (now Maori Women’s Development Inc). It was Georgina’s idea entirely. And it was her idea right from the start to make me write it myself. I think she might have applied a bit of subtle or perhaps not-so-subtle Ngati Kahungunu whanaungatanga to make that happen.

Dame Georgina went on to run the fund for many years. It has now morphed into Maori Women’s Deverlopment Inc. MWDI’s objectives include:

  • To provide loans to Maori women to enable and assist them to enter into and commence business and/or to expand and restructure their existing businesses.
  • To establish, maintain and conduct a society for the promotion, advancement and encouragement of Maori women and whanau into business throughout NZ.
  • To provide developmental training programs for Maori Women and their whanau to empower and enable them towards economic and financial independence
  • To empower Maori business women and their whanau through sharing information and knowledge
  • To assist, support and foster the development of business ideas, opportunities and up-skilling amongst Maori women and their whanau
  • To encourage and support Maori Women into general wealth through business development.

That was pretty much what Georgina told me to write. Well, probably a bit flasher but that’s what she meant. A most worthy organisation indeed.

Nothing about Maori entrepreneurs in there I see.