Wednesday, 6 February 2013

KAAPO CLARK - Maungatautari near Cambridge, Born 1930


I am Kaapo Clark, I was born in 1930 in Maungatautari.  I am also known as Campbell Clark, and I am Ngati Koroki.  I grew up with both my Parents, all four of my Grandparents, my Auntie and Uncle also lived with us, along with their five children.  There were about fifteen children living with us in our home at Maungatautari.  I am the eldest surviving, as seven of my siblings died.

We had a long punga whare.  There was a kauta at the end of it; and a wood slat roof and a dirt floor.  We had one hole and that was covered with a flour bag.  We didnt have bedrooms, it was just one big room.  It was a normal whare in Maungatautari; probably one of the better ones - and our floor was very clean.  We ate on the floor, we lay out clean sugar bags and laid the food out on those.  Mussell shells were our spoons and we all ate from the one container.  Kids had one, and grown ups had another.  We ate out of the same Umu.  Breakfast was kanga pirau, parore or kororirori (we call it repirepi), or any leftover kai from the night before.  We always had heaps of fruit with our breakfast, apricots and peaches.  I hardly took lunch to school though, I eat my brother's lunch; the one that was adopted out.   Our staple meats for dinner was rabbit, pork, kereru and sometimes beef.  A lot of our meat was "huahua", cooked and covered in fat, and were then packed into kegs or kerosene tins.  That was necessary, we never had any fridges back then.  We had harore - the bush mushroom, when we could get it; and plenty of eels.  Most of the time we were that hungry by the end of the day, we would just eat anything, whether we liked it or not.  Never ever turned food down.

Our beds were old kapoks, and they lay on top of ferns on the floor.  I loved sleeping by my parents feet, when I was four or five.  We had shop bought blankets and feather quilts.  The quilts were patchwork - nothing was wasted, my parents would make everything into something.   We had drawyers for our clothes.  We had one tap where we got running water, but the creek was our bath tub.  All the washing was also done in the creek.  We didn't have a long drop until I was 8, I think before then a long drop was a luxury; I think we just "go" in the paddock.

When I was very young I remember the old people will get water from the creek in a taha.  They grew "taha" (hue) and when it dried out they used it for carrying water; we had kerosene tins to hold water as well.  Our house was very dark, and most of our light came from the fire - candles came much later.  We all slept in a communal "sleeping" space.

Our whole whare was Maori ! We had whariki on the floor, and kete hanging all on the wall.  We also had a "mere" that hung in our whare.  My Grandfather had a fob watch, and some of the ladies in my family had jewellery.

My Father was a labourer, farmer and a shearer.  He worked for Pakeha farmers up the road as well as maintaining his own farm.  We grew all our own kai, we had acres of potatoes, kanga and kumara.  My Parents were always at home, unless they were away doing contract shearing.  My Mother would go with my Father as the cook for his shearing gang; she also did odd jobs for Farmer's wives.  When she was at home, she took care of us; watching the children or washing the clothes in the creek.  All my people were hardworking people.

I'd help my father chop the wood in the bush, I think I was between eight to ten years then.  We'd bring the logs out, and then I'd chop it down smaller; all the other children took turns doing that.  We all help cart the water too.  We ate twice a day, morning and night; and we all helped with the preparation of the kai.  I didn't like any of the jobs - we just did them.  Karakia was important, we do this twice a day, every day.  When my family can afford it we have parties too.

When we first got the buggy for our horses, I got to go for a ride with my Mother to "Kakarau", my father was working there, and we went to see him.  When my Father goes to the bush, he takes me as well.  One time we went right to the top of Maungatautari, and he showed me Mt Taranaki from there.  I loved my Father, he was a kind man; and I never saw him get wild.  He was a humble person and a well respected Man.  I still remember his voice (in a karakia) - he is always in my mind.  Mum lived 20 years after my Father died.  She was a good mother.  In the early years I went with her. I think I was a spoilt rat. (he laughs).  I remember my Mother always being there, always counselling me to be careful of the things I do.  I was the only one really raised by them, from the beginning to I left home.  All the brothers were adopted down the road.  I hoped I was like my Father.  I always found it easy to communicate with both of them.
I had a sister also, she was adopted out.  I was still close to her and my brothers.  I think I was spoilt by my Grandfather, everybody else got a hiding except me.  Somebody told my Grandfather that we pulled all the leaves off the fruit trees, all the other kids got it with the walking stick except me.

Most of the time, my Grandmother prepared the kai.  My Grandfather and Father were good cooks though, and they cooked quite often.  We kept our potatoes in the pits, also our peaches were preserved in the ground; they would keep through well into the winter.  My Family dug big pits in the ground.  They also stored kamikami in the ground.  Cooking, using Hangi was sometimes a necessity - when you have a lot of people in the one whare.  We had a big family, so Hangi was normal.  The women prepared it.  Women weren't allowed to dig the earth, nor were they suppose to be in the garden much.  The hole was already dug by a Man, then the women could just use it.

I learnt about Christmas at school.  My Grandfather was the biggest Sunday School adherant; he was always the one ringing the bell.  We didn't have Christmas at home until I was ten.  My Grandfather had died by then.  I saw Guy Fawkes down at the School.

I never wore shoes until I went to High School ! My Father bought me my first pair of shoes then.  They were black ones. No underwear, no wears at all and no togs.  A lot of my clothes were hand me downs.  My Father's old clothes were cut down for us.  Mum made things for us out of the flour bags as well.  We never thought much about them being hand me downs.  It was great to have something warm.  We wear anything, except girls never ever wear pants.  Those black shoes were my favourite, they clip clop on the road when I walk.  Right up until then I was a barefoot ! I would run into the cow mimi and teko and stand in it because it was warm, and then wipe my feet on the grass.  I had very hard feet !

When my Grandmother got the pension, we got a lot more things.  It was five pounds she use to get.  We'd come home with a 200lb flour, butter !, and fresh meat.  Nanny got the pension when I was about ten.  I remember the first time, we got a ride to town, it was just Nanny and I.  I had a orange fizzy drink out of a bottle and had cakes from in town; and luncheon sausage from the butcher.  It was the first time I had tasted any of those things.  All of those things came from that 5 pounds; and then we caught a taxi back to the Pa. About every six months, we would go to the pictures.  We got to go to the matinee, mainly cowboy films in the afternoon.

I never had any shop bought toys, but we made toys.  I had a spinning top that I made.  The girls played knucklebones with the tiny potatoes.  I made a kite from newspaper and the frame was made of fern stalks.  We already had the string, that was flax string made from muka.  I made a whip from the muka string once, to crack the tail - it made a noise.  We make canoes from the green part of the flax, the leftovers after the weaving.  Kids never went near flax, we heard too many Ghost stories, and our large grove of flax was too scarey.  We played a lot down at the creek.  We'd catch eels and crayfish.  We always had our friends over - they were all our cousins anyway.  I remember when I finally scored a bike; it was from my Foster brother.  I was suppose to double my sister to school on it, but I would make her walk and pick up my mate instead.  I always wanted a toy-gun.  Some of the pakeha boys had water pistols.  I never got one. My Parents had a 303. shotgun though !  I had a pet dog as well - I can't remember his name now.

We sang a lot of Waiata Maori when I was young, all by the Piano.  We had a Piano at the Pa.  The Pa saved up, then when we got it, the Pa paid it off at 10 shillings a month. I was always with my Father, and I always sat by him, at his feet when we go to Hui; or sometimes I go off with my cousins, playing running games or wrestling games.  We had a lot of freedom really, we knew when we had to be home - we also ate just before dark.

My Father had Tuberculosis.  He was an old man at forty - well I thought he was an old man ! I was as healthy as a horse, and fit as a buck-rat.  I was the fittest in my Rugby team.  My brother was sickly and frail.  If we sick, we get taken to the tohunga.  On immunisation day, I lied to the Nurses - I told them my parents said I couldn't have it.  No thought of asking for parents permission.  They still gave it to me.  Some kids were allergic, and they swelled up, and they rushed them to the Tohunga.  He even cured Pakeha.  A Pakeha lost his arm, and Heke took him to the swamp; he put water on it and joined it back.  The tohunga can even cure tooth ache.  I always had a tooth ache.  "Homai te rongoa, ki a pai ai i toku waha" (calling to the ancestors, that have passed on).  The tohunga could take away pain. I saw Heke fix a young boy and a huge absess.

I started school when I was seven, at the Maungatautari Public School. It was a public school so there were both Maori and Pakeha going there.  There was a little bit of animousity between Maori and Pakeha, especially when Pakeha kids pimped on us; but most of the time we were all friends.  We were careful to each other.  Sometimes we call the Pakeha kids "keha".  I never got the strap.  My teacher, Mr Bird, threw a chalk at me once for daydreaming, and I cried from the "shock of it".  It hit me on the forehead.  Sometimes I spoke Maori at school, but I never got caught.

We had teeth inspection at school, and finger nail inspection.  At high school, they checked our uniform.  We had to have our cap folded a specific way, and tucked into the belt.  I always liked our School uniform, and I liked the discipline. My favourite teacher was Mr Burr.  I liked him.  He always boasted that he had the best academic children - they were, my brother and Tom Tauroa.  Mr Burr told me that when I left school and grew up - that I would be a chief.

We had Maori culture at school.  We werent allowed to speak the Reo, but we could have action songs.  They were taught by the teacher; Mehe Manu Rere, Pokarekare ana and other national songs of Maoridom. They taught us English history.  We had nothing to compare it with.  They filled us with what they wanted us to know.  They showed us pictures of our ancestors in the canoes.  We observed the English flag, and we stood in front of it and sang. "God Save the King".  I heard of Queen Victoria, there were figures on the walls at school and other monarchs.  I definitely heard of Samuel Marsden. I never heard about the Treaty of Waitangi though.

My Father went to the same school as me.  I think the school was built in 1915.  He was at school wehn his Grandfather died.  Mum also went to school for a little while.  They were very much interested in my education.  They provided the money for me to go to High School and for the uniform.  I loved going to school.  Those were enjoyable years, athletics, school band and military training were the things I enjoyed the most.

I heard about Raupatu a little bit later - in my teenage years; I didn't hear that from school though.  I knew Pakeha came from England, and I knew about Ireland; because there were a lot of Irish kids in our area.  My bestfriend at School was Irish.

I went to Sunday School every Sunday; they were held at our house or at the Marae.  The main karakia was Pai Marire, but we would have other Ministers visiting who were Methodist and or Anglican.  Pakeha went to another church.  Pai Marire was our main haahi.

There were other Pakeha in our childhoods too.  The Pakeha farmers that lived up the road. I worked for a Pakeha Farmer, I use to cut their lawns for a shilling. That was enough for me to go to town, buy fish and chips, a bottle of drink and the pictures.  To us, it was normal; all Maungatautari adults worked for the Pakeha.  My Father was very careful with Pakeha.  He'd never let them come into the house.  Once only, a Policeman just "walked in", they were checking to see if Dad had beer in the house. He never found anything so he left.  After that, Pakeha were never allowed inside.  My Father was suspicious of Pakeha and suspicious of Police.  He treated Pakeha correctly and politely and with respect.  We never went to our Pakeha friends house's either.  It wasn't normal.  It was okay at school, but thats all. At School, Maori dominated Pakeha 5:1.  Some times Pakeha people would come over and try to lease our land.  My Father knew that "once a Pakeha moved in, you had no way of moving him out - no safe way, they had the law on their side".  They didn't come to our Marae much either, only by invitation.  If a Pakeha comes to the marae, the old people will say "He aha te mahi o te Pakeha ra ?" - the feeling of suspicion toward Pakeha was always there with the old people. I suppose us younger ones broke down the barriers.

Kids are kept away from the Marae proper, I mean the Marae area in front of the Whare.  There was always an old man with a walking stick to keep kids away.  At night, I would go by my Father's feet. I met Piki and Julia when I was at Primary School age - they holidayed at Maungatautari.  We knew they were Kahui Ariki; and we knew we were Waikato. I learnt most of our Waikato things from my Grandparents.  My Parents were first cousins, my Grandmothers were two sisters. I would say they were the best part of my childhood.  I loved the stories at night, when the old people are relaxed, we all sit arund the open fire, its the only light - and we are all roasting huhu.  I absorbed all their stories, some were Ghost stories about people who were dead.  Us kids were frightened at night, it made sure that none of us ever went outside by ourselves at night.  Too scared.

1 comment:

  1. I just loved reading this about my papa. Thankyou. Would u know where can i read more online?

    ReplyDelete