Nowadays most Maori live in European-style houses and their children go to English-speaking schools along with the children of their Pakeha neighbours. They wear European-style clothes, vote in elections along with the Pakeha, watch television and play rugby and netball. But they are still proud to be Maori and in some important things their way of life remains different. They prefer some of their old customs to those brought by the Pakeha.
Among the very young a new pride in being Maori is encouraged in learning nests, where pre-school children speak nothing but Maori, and imagery from tribal legends may decorate the walls. Many of the older people were not allowed to speak Maori at school. Be like the Pakeha, they were told. Some of them believed that this was best, and a few of them even tried to discourage their own children from speaking Maori. Today, more and more schools are beginning to teach Maori, to Pakeha as well as to Maori children. Some schools which once banned Maori are now using it in all their lessons, as the main language.
Unemployment among the Maori people is much higher than among the Pakeha. Alarming figures on Maori underdevelopment were given in 1982 in a booklet called Race Against Time. They showed that just over 67 per cent of Maori left school with no qualifications compared with 28.5 per cent of Pakeha New Zealanders. When the booklet was published Maori made up 9 per cent of the total population in Zew Zealand but 46 per cent of the prison population. Compared with the rest of the population Maori health was poor and many Maori were poorly housed. Steps have been taken to improve Maori education since then, but statistics still show the Maori to be worse off than the Pakeha in most areas of life.
Few Maori boys go on from school to become apprentices and to learn skills like plumbing and electrical repair work, and even fewer go on to higher education and to university. This is one reason why unemployment is high among the Maori.
Among those people who have jobs in New Zealand the average income of Maori families is a good deal lower than that of the average Pakeha. This does not mean that the Maori feel inferior to the Pakeha, however. They know that, given the opportunity, they can do anything the Pakeha can do. In New Zealand there are Maori politicians, doctors, writers, lawyers and engineers. There are also brilliant Maori artists. The Maori have never allowed themselves to become a servant class to the Pakeha. But the Pakeha run New Zealand according to their own values, which are often different from those of the Maori. To succeed in Pakeha society the Maori have had to turn their backs on their own customs. The best jobs, the best education and the best land in New Zealand have usually gone to the Pakeha.
Since the 1930s New Zealand has been a welfare state. There has been free health care, social welfare assistance and unemployment pay available to all the population - both Pakeha and Maori. So nobody starved in recent times. Indeed the country became very wealthy after the Second World War, when high prices were paid by overseas buyers for its butter, cheese, meat and wool. There was enough for everybody. Times are harder now, however, because it is more difficult to sell meat and dairy produce overseas.
Crime and street gangs
In 1982 New Zealand's Race Relations Conciliator published statistics which showed that 46 per cent of the prison population was Maori and nearly 50 per cent of all the criminal cases involved Maori. At that time only about 9 per cent of the population was Maori. More recent statistics still show the proportion of Maori in jail to be over seven times the national average. Crime among the Maori rose sharply in the 1960s and 1970s as people moved to the cities. Crime in may societies is highest among the young and the lower wage earning groups and the Maori population was very young and often poor.
The Race Reliations Conciliator said in 1982 that the New Zealand police had come under severe criticism from Maori and Pacific Polynesian communities. These communities felt they were being unequally singled out by harsh police methods. In street inquiries the police seemed to pick on Maori and Pacific Polynesians, who were more likely to end up before the courts for minor offences than the Pakeha.
A lot of young Maori in the city want the close companionship of tribal life, so they join Maori gangs, because they feel safer and more at ease in a group. The gang system began to develop in New Zealand after thousands of young Maori moved to the towns and cities. Many of these young people lost touch with their tribal roots. They had no elders in the cities and they felt ill at ease and even angry in a world where the Pakeha seemed to have all the money and power. The young Maori often had difficulty getting jobs. The gangs they formed were like the motor-cycle gangs of the US - the Hell's Angels. They called themselves the Stormtroopers, the Nigs and Junior Nigs, the Spades, Black Power, the Tribe, the Mongrels and the Panthers. Sometimes they lived together in houses whicht they fortified so they seemed to be like the old fighting pa.
The gangs frightened the Pakeha and they frightened and worried many of the older Maori in the countryside. They were not all bad and dangerous, however. There were many young men in some of the gangs who could see that the Maori people were poorer than the Pakeha, and that Maori health was often poor too. Maori went to prison more than Pakeha. These things made them angry.
Member of the Black Power gang Auckland
Street kids are young homeless people, mostly from Maori or from Pacific islander families. They are to be found in New Zealand's cities, sometimes sleeping in rough shelters. The street kids have often run away from troubles at home.
There may have been little room for them in crowded housing with unemployed brothers, sisters and cousins. Some Maori in the cities feel that they are surrounded by a culture that is different from their own. They cannot get a job or a decent place to live, and this makes them feel that they are worthless. Some of them get drunk to try to get rid of this feeling of worthlessness. Many street children have run away from homes where their parents or relatives drank too much.
Maori in Government
The Pakeha settlers in New Zealand were allowed their first parliament in 1852 by the British Government. In 1867 it was decided that four Maori members should be elected by the Maori people to represent the northern, western, eastern and southern Maori.
Nowadays there are still four Maori members of the ninety-five member parliament. Maori voters can choose to switch from the Maori to the general electoral roll if they wish, to vote for the same candidates as their Pakeha neighbours.
The Waitangi Tribunal was established in 1975 by the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975. It is a permanent commission of inquiry and consists of 16 members appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of Maori Affairs. The Tribunal\'s role is to make recommendations on claims brought by Maori relating to the practical application of the Treaty and to determine whether certain matters are inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty.