The Autobiography of a Maori
I Attend Wai-o-Matatini School
I Attend Wai-o-Matatini School
It was arranged that I should attend the Wai-o-Matatini school and that I should stay with a family at Te Horo. Tuta and Maraea were exceedingly kind to me. My father supplied flour, which at the time was not in general use among the Maori people, so I always had bread for my lunch, but without butter. All the other children of the pa had potatoes baked in hot ashes. The potatoes were strung together and hung over one's shoulder. During the lunch-hour the children went into the scrub to cook the potatoes and there would often be a number of fires burning at the same time. A stick was pushed through several potatoes and one end of it was stuck into the ground so that it slanted over the fire. I immensely enjoyed this mode of cooking and often exchanged my bread for some potatoes thus cooked. The only children who had bread and butter were those from the small white settlement at Port Awanui.page 64
Although I enjoyed going to school and Tuta and Maraea were exceedingly good to me, after a while I began to be homesick. So homesick did I become that often, on the way home from school, I would ascend a little hill from which I could see the Pukeamaru Range, for somewhere in that vicinity was my home. Finally, my father had to take me home to Te Araroa.
Wai-o-Matatini was one of the earliest schools, if not the earliest, on the East Coast. About the year 1876 a school was established at Te Hatepe, my grandfather's old pa, but the conduct of the children was so bad that it had to be closed down and the teacher was transferred to Wai-o-Matatini, where he opened a school in the Native Land Court house.
Paratene Ngata, father of Sir Apirana Ngata, told in the Native Land Court, how my grandfather, Mokena Kohere, restricted Ngati-Porou lands from alienation. The chief would not even have the lands surveyed, for he contended that a survey led to the Land Court and this went on to the land sales. When the court house was built at Wai-o-Matatini, Mokena Kohere threatened to set fire to it. He was compelled to narrow down his reserved area to the lands across the Waiapu River, and, finally, to Marangairoa No. 1. The imputation1 that Mokena Kohere wished to sell Marangairoa is, therefore, the more malicious.
When I returned home, Sir Apirana Ngata had already been to Te Aute College and education was such a rare thing among Maoris, that exaggerated stories about the wonderful performances of Te Aute boys were quite common. One such story was that an old Te Aute boy was keeping the books on a cutter, in fact, he was said to be the purser. I later met this same "boy" and am sorry to say he is not as he was reputed to be when he was a boy.page break
Canon A. F. and Mrs. Williams. Canon Williams prepared Te Aute College pupils for confirmation.
A group of old Thornton boys. Back: Sir Maui Pomare, M.D., D.S.O.; Ven. Archdeacon H. Hawkins, L.Th.; Sir Peter H. Buck (Te Rangihiroa), Kt., D.S.O., M.D., Ch.B., D.Sc., M.A. (Yale), F.R.S.N.Z., F.R.A.I. Front: Hamiora Hei, LL.B.; Sir Apirana Ngata, Kt., M.A., LL.B., D.Litt.; Rev. R. T. Kohere, L.Th.