I grew up in Tuparoa, about five miles from Ruatoria (Ngati Porou). I was the 3rd eldest of a family of 5 boys and 3 girls, and along with my parents - lived in a two room house.
One of the rooms was my parents bedroom and the other room was a kitchen. We had a verandah outside that was covered with tin and we used that for another room. My sisters slept in one of the two beds that was in my Parents bedroom, and we - the boys slept in the verandah room. Our house was an average house, there were some that were bigger than ours - and flasher.
We didn't have much furniture in our house, there was a table, forms to sit on by the table, and kerosene boxes that we used as chairs too. Sometimes we children sit on the floor. We had spring beds, and our clothes were kept in suitcases that we kept under the bed. There was no room for a set of drawers.
Our kai was cooked on a small open fire that was in the house, and we used an outside tub. We had a long drop away from the house; and my Mother and sister done the washing in the creek that had been dammed up. We would cart water from the spring in 4 gallon tins twice a day.
All the stores came by boat around the Coast. My Dad use to off load the stores from the barge. He'd drive the wagon and horses out to where the waves break, and offload them there. This was his daily job.
My mother was a housewife, she spent her day washing clothes, ironing with the fire iron, sewing, weaving whariki and kete. She was also a member of the Maori Women's Welfare League. Mum used to go to the creek and bob the eels. She used a white bait net and put worms wrapped in a small basket and the eels get their teeth tangled in it.
The jobs we did were Milking the cows, scrubbing the floors, baby-sitting the younger children, go and get wood and cart it home. We had to bundle it up and drag it home ourselves until we got a horse. Our whole family would get wood everyday for the cooking. I didn't like milking those ruddy cows ! I liked fishing though. We would go down to the beach with Mum, play and get kaimoana and then after we have a barbeque at the beach.
I didn't spend much time with my father - very little. I was always with my mother, doing the shopping with her and helping her with the kids. She was always there when you needed her even though we had our odd moments. She taught us to be careful how we went, told us not to look for trouble and "kia pai to haere" - when you leave the district.
I always talk to my Mum, not my Dad. My Dad never liked me, he always had more time for the others than me, I always got the hiding. He'd take us to the beach to collect sea weed. We get paid a shilling for 1 lb of seameal - we fill it by the bail. Dad never came in the water, he just sat on the bloody beach; my Dad was an asthmatic, he didn't do bugger-all. I had asthma too - there was nothing to help for Asthma, you just suffer.
Our breakfast was Tea & Bread - Paraoa Koroua, with Golden Syrup and salted lard for butter. If there was enough bread left we take some for school lunch, sometimes dried shark, sometimes dried paua but sometimes we have nothing for lunch. For Tea we have stews, meat was pretty scarce, we have mostly bacon. When it was in season we eat tawhara, and karaka berries - you have to soak them for a long time. We ate a lot of kaimoana, crabs, crayfish, paua, kina; My favourite was crayfish. My Mum used to be the best diver, she get it by the sackful. At times, food was scarce, so you ate everything that was given to you. The best time was Christmas, there was plenty of meat and Puddings with threepence in it.
I didn't have many clothes. 2 pair strides, one for this week, one for next week. Shirts and maybe a pullover. Everyone had the same and they kept patching them up over and over again. When my older brother left home, he left me his clothes, I didn't like it, but I still had to wear it.
We never had toys, we made our own. We made a cart with old Golden Syrup tins and seaweed to skate on. My cousin had a toy boat with a propellor, I knew I couldn't have one. It was a "Miss Happy-Knack". He let me hang on to it, but not to wind it up. We never had much time to play though, we had too much work to do. I had a dog named Beau. We had a guitar, though I wasn't very musical, and we had a radio.
We don't get up to mischief much. But I remember pinching my Mum's smokes, I pinch the water melons and I pinched my Uncle's rotten corn; I got a good hiding for it - kick up the arse and a whack on the ear.
I started Tuparoa Native School when I was 5. 2 of my Aunties were school Mistresses. It was all Maoris at our school. There was one half caste boy there, he was real pakeha looking - he stood out. Sometimes he had a better lunch than us and we take it off him; but most of the time we all got on well. There was a Maori woman that came around and teach us Kapa Haka, and my uncle taught us the haka.
I got the strap very often. We cut the teachers strap up when he wasn't there. The teacher hit my cousin once and my cousin grabbed his stick off him and broke it. We were 13 then. Some times I have to write lines. I will not do .. (this), there was a dunce cap but I never got that. We get the strap for fighting at school; or when you talk Maori they grab your chin and say "No Maori in the School". My parents knew about it they just say we must've needed it. The rules were no Maori, full attendance and to be Prompt - on time; you get a whack for that, even with the best excuse. I thought it was a lot of crap in the first place.
I had a favourite teacher, he was kinder than the rest, not much thrashings like the other buggers. I hated the last bastard that I had. I finished school because of him, he expelled me for fighting. I got a good thrashing from Mum for that. I was in my last term of Standard 6, and I couldn't get my C.O.P [Certificate of Proficiency]. I swore that I'd string him up. I was fighting my own brother and it was none of the school's business. At school they taught us about Pakeha history and the British Monarchy and that we were under their protection. They taught us that our religion was no good. King George was the King then; but our leader was Api Ngata.
Going to church was important to my parents, we went every Sunday. In Ngati Porou theres a church house at every marae. We had the Anglican sermons in Maori. My Uncle was the minister. My Mum was a Methodist. My favourite stories were about the Good Samaritan, Ruth and the boy with the fish and loaves that never run out, cause we fished.
The only pakehas in Tuparoa was the policeman and the Pakeha teachers. The Pakeha policeman was also the football coach and hockey coach. He was one of the boys. I liked him.
My time around my Grandparents was very little. My Grandfather was a half caste. We weren't allowed near him, you only went to their house with a specific reason, and even then you're told to get out. My Grandparents were first cousins. We never got on with my Grandmother either. She was jealous of my Mother. Mum had run away from a pre arranged marriage in Waikato; they call her "Waikato bare-feet", "Waikato whaiwhai atu"; but when they want something they come to my Mother.
My Grandmother had no time for nobody. She'd just watch and guard her fruit trees. She was a cow, so we never went there. She always wore an over-coat, she was a big strappy lady 6ft 2, and she never came anywhere near the marae. My Grandfather did - he always spoke on the Marae. They were comfortable around Pakeha because they were both half castes. They lived in a big house, the biggest I've ever seen, like a big split level house. There was 16 in my father's family and I stayed with the lot of them. I know how a foster kid felt.
I lived with my Aunt for a while, her husband was a Taxi driver, he gave me a shilling a day, 5p for the Matinee and 1 penny icecreams. The pictures were in Ruatoria and I went by horseback. Night Picture at 8pm or Matinees at 2pm; Tarzan, Bull-Dog Drummond the Detective, Green Archer and Hop-a-Long Cassidy.
Pakehas come to the Marae now and then, mostly when a Maori marries a Pakeha.
Growing up I thought Pakeha were out to rip us off. When I worked for this Pakeha, he suppose to pay me 30 shillings a week. I rode to Ruatoria every day on horse back, until finally I had enough to buy my five pound bike. Looking back I remember, I worked for him for three years and they never once gave me the proper wage.