Monday, April 26, 2010

First-hand account about Maori and social security post-war

The best way to find out what happened in the past is to read first-hand accounts. The following excerpt is from a book called Nurse in the North and is by Barbara Ancott-Johnson, She worked in the Hokianga with a well-known doctor G M Smith - "Jock" - and writes here about her efforts to enforce his expectations about social security in Maori communities. As you read try to imagine such an approach happening today. Oh the screaming over privacy rights there would be;


Anonymous said...


I don't think this adds much to what we already know. Historically there were problems for Maori as highlighted by this one report as there are now. The reasons are the same in the past as they are now - colonisation, theft of resources and the oppression of culture. The answer is self determination, giving Maori back their resources and giving them the right/ ability to make decisions on how to use those resources. There will be mistakes but so what! I know the outcome. We will get back what is ours and our people will be strong again,. If it does not happen in my lifetime, my children will make it happen, or their children.


Lindsay Mitchell said...


The Maori in this book are working their own farms or forestlands, speaking their own language as well as English and observing their own customs. The Pakeha doctor and nurse are trying to fit in with their culture while bringing them medicinal care and knowledge they wouldn't otherwise have had. And I am not necessarily talking about introduced disease. They saved lives by teaching the control of shock after accidents which were common. Prevented or treated infection. Ensured safer child birth. Performed life-saving surgery. They were welcomed by the Maori.

The women were being paid a family benefit on the same basis as non-Maori but generally had more children, resulting in larger payments.

So I am not sure how any of this equates to "theft of resources and the oppression of culture". That is not a denial that those things didn't happen but I think to apply them in this particular region would be an insult to the medical people who worked tirelessly and lived in very austere conditions to make sure Maori were cared for.

Tracy Harris said...

I think the problem that is highlighted here is one that Maori still face. They were throwen into a society that had very different values than there own and as they did then, Maori still struggle within these societal constraints.
The first hand accounts, although interesting, shows the level of 'care' or 'paternalism' that existed. This 'care' still exists today, and constrains and confines Maori in decision making and in many cases ensures that Maori as a whole stay within the lower ends of economic spectrum.
Did the level of 'care' described in the accounts teach Maori how to survive within society, or merely to exist?