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Maori at Te Aroha after the opening of the goldfield in 1880 (mostly through Pakeha eyes)

As the Maori population continued to decline, the aged rangatira admired by Pakeha (even including those who had fought against the Crown) gradually died off, to be replaced by Maori more noted for their drinking and occasional violence than their prestige. Although concerts and haka were popular with many Pakeha, much Maori behaviour was mocked, including by children. Many Maori were seen as being unsophisticated, unable to express themselves properly in English, and prone to drunkenness and laziness, whereas those who adopted Pakeha ways were praised. Some Pakeha sympathized with poverty-stricken Maori and regretted the decline of their language. There were many examples of close and friendly relations and of Maori assisting Pakeha in trouble, but in general they lived geographically separate lives. To earn money, Maori were forced to work at road making, timber cutting, gum digging, and farming what land remained in their possession. Most Maori struggled financially, their limited resources being stretched by holding expensive tangi and entertaining visitors – resulting in more land sales. They used the court system to defend their economic interests. Ngati Rahiri (including supporters of the Kingitanga) were seen as ‘loyal’ to the Crown, and visiting Maori kings received kindly treatment from Pakeha as well as from Maori. Poor health prompted some government assistance, but poor housing remained, although some attempts were made to improve it (partly to protect Pakeha from diseases). Before the twentieth century only a few children, mostly ‘half-castes’, were educated. Most Ngati Rahiri were members of the Church of England before being attracted by the new Mormon faith. Ngati Rahiri participated with Pakeha in horse races, sporting contests, and, especially, rugby, and a few joined the Volunteers. Much less desirable to most residents was their heavy drinking (encouraged by some publicans and their Pakeha drinking buddies), and occasional fights, very occasionally with Pakeha. Overall, Pakeha ways, both good and bad, of necessity were adopted, and Ngati Rahiri became inextricably a subordinate part of the Pakeha community, although still retaining some distinctive features. (Note: Unless otherwise indicated, all those named in this paper, both Maori and Pakeha, were shareholders in claims in the Te Aroha district.)
Working Paper
Type of thesis
Te Aroha Mining District Working Papers
Hart, P. (2016). Maori at Te Aroha after the opening of the goldfield in 1880 (mostly through Pakeha eyes). (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 27), Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart