WORK FOR HONE?
Observer, Volume XXXVII, Issue 4, 30 September 1916, Page 3
WORK FOR HONE?
Ah! Anything But That! "The magistrate said it was extraordinary that a stalwart young Maori in excellent health could make no offer to pay his debts." THE ueual simple tale of an overclothed native who had been rushed with nearly £20 worth of clothes because hia father owned land. One could relate equally simple old tales of stalwart Maoris whose life is largely summed up in leaning, eating, drinking, billiards, land court loafing. Don't blame the Maori. He's a child of nature. We butt in, trade with him, get him to do anything with his land except work it, and permit him to walk through the years from cradle, to grave without a work blister on his pudgy hands. Now and again a brown saviour of the race arises whose enthusiasm sparkles for half a year and then sputters out in the swamp of taihoa. There is no Maori alive who can stop the rot, for every Maori on earth is subject to the pakeha, and the rot enriches the pakeha. The young Maori remains an obese peg on which to hang clothes, or a load for a motor car, a client for a billiard room, a filler of cash registers for the publican. The State applies laws to our brown brother. The only law it doesn't apply is the. Law of Work. The State doesn't swing the Adamic curse, on to Hone relative to the earning, of bread by the sweat of the brow, and a too large proportion sweat only from fatness. • • • As a tribute to their evident warlike character, many young bloods have laid down the billiard cue for the rifle and the pint pot for the bayonet, but the. return of the warriors from the fields, of Flanders will end the useful discipline to which they have been temporarily subjected. The intense apathy of the Maori we know is the result of his treatment as a large spoilt child by the white man. The white man prates that Hone is. the superior of all coloured subject races, and Hone would be a fool not to believe it as long as it gives him a right to sit with his. back against a post and sweat audibly. In every case of a subject dark race fitness and survival have been maintained because the dark man has been forced to work. The semi-communal habits of Hone are. his. greatest curse. In essence it is. kind for the weakly chief to allow his poorer relatives to live in idleness on him. In principle it is the first "spit" in the preparation of Hone's grave. Hone lacks interest in anything but wrangling and sport because the white man has never taken the trouble, to interest him. The present placid uselessness of the race has been prescribed by the white man. The white man shows no desire to employ the Maori's brains or brawn, to spur emulation in him, to bring his undoubted talents to the surface or to harness him to useful pursuits. He regards loafing Maoris as part of the scenery, but as a problem that he ought to solve, never. He ie willing to applaud, his death as a soldier on foreign soil, but not to make him survive by work in the only land he can properly develop in. When the State accepted Maori soldiers it set them to work—hard, continuous and compulsory work, and the power the State has in war over Maori soldiers should be usable in peace. • ■ • The Maori man who doesn't pay too foolish tradesman is not inherently bad. He's only copying, the. white man, and the white man is so flattered with the imitation that Hone finds himself in the dock. All the plans for the salvation of the Maoris that do not include work, deliberate daily work, precisely similar to that which the. white, man is. obliged to perform, have failed and always will fail. A Maori will not work if there is a chance of avoiding it. It is the business of the Siate to insist
that he shall not avoid it. The fat and affluent brown loafers who whirl /through the street in expensive motor ca.rs are a disgrace to the lack of discipline which permits it. The daily presence of large groups of, these people who loaf themselves to death is an acknowledgement of failure on the part of the pakeha. In many cases the Maoris, do conform to the pakeha work convention, and their utility as workers is indistinguishable from that of the pakeha. This is. because in the case of some Maoris work is necessary to live. Work should be made compulsory in every case. All the blatant twaddle about "this magnificent race" is useless in preserving it while Hone leans against a posit and daily loafs his life away. Loafing is, never regarded as a magnificent characteristic in a white man, and Hone will have to be forced into line, unless the State deliberately intends to push Hone underground. As. for it. being "extraordinary" that. a stalwart, healthy young Maori shouldn't be able to pay his debts, it is not only not extraordinary but very usual, and the fault lies with the State which punishes the Maori for the State's sins of omission.