Monday, October 06, 2014

70 years ago - The downfall of Sir Apirana Ngata

Sir Apirana Ngata was a highly practical man who harnessed the resources of the state to develop Maori land; to get his people working and productive. But Pakeha weren't always happy with the flow of money going into his schemes. It's shame they didn't have a glass ball enabling them to see the future flow of money going into making Maori unproductive.

It was Alan Duff, in Maori:The Crisis and the Challenge, who highlighted Ngata's fierce opposition to Maori receiving welfare (then social security) fearing its corrupting affect on his people.

The following piece is from the NZ Herald 70 years ago today but I hesitated to categorise it under "The more things change..." firstly because the tone of the debate is exceptionally civil, quite unlike today. And I didn't want to give the impression that I thought Ngata was comparable with a few contemporary Maori who self-interestedly rip of government grants.


If you read that piece you will be interested in what happened next:

"By the beginning of 1932 Ngata and his department were being roundly criticised in Parliament and the press. He was required to accept a reorganisation of his head office, but the controller and auditor general refused to pass the accounts. Irregularities were found in some of the district offices of the department. A civil servant from the office of the public service commissioner was put into the head office in place of R. N. Jones, who was both chief judge of the Native Land Court and under-secretary for the department. But the crisis was not yet over, and one of Ngata's trusted lieutenants on the East Coast was found to have falsified accounts. Ngata offered his resignation, but instead of accepting it George Forbes, the prime minister, adopted a recommendation from the Public Accounts Committee to appoint a commission of inquiry into Ngata's handling of his department and the land development schemes. It reported in 1934 and was critical of Ngata's administration, especially his personal style and contempt for bureaucratic regulations, alleged that he favoured his tribe, Ngati Porou, and his family (although providing little evidence to support either allegation), and pointed, correctly, to the corruption of some of Ngata's subordinates. Ngata honourably accepted responsibility for the shortcomings and immediately resigned from cabinet. His downfall had a powerful impact on Maoridom, which regarded it as a Pakeha attempt to undermine the success of his land schemes."


Rick said...

Tau Henare mark one!

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Yep. Noticed that. Sounding a bit like a govt patsy then too.