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Fostering te reo — and education

Joe Naden has a lot of history to share. He is from Tokomaru Bay and moved to Auckland in 1952, but over the years has been back and forth for various roles he has taken up in the rohe. Gisborne Herald reporter Matai O’Connor corresponded with him via email to learn more . . .

Joe Naden was among the many Maori who migrated to New Zealand's urban areas in the early 1950s. It was the start of a journey to gain educational qualifications and to pursue roles that focused on Maori issues.

Joe was born in the Tokomaru Bay District Nurses' home on January 26, 1938.

He attended Tokomaru Bay Public School and Tokomaru Bay Maori District High School for a year before leaving for Auckland — and Otahuhu College — in 1952.

Joe believes he was able to read before he went to school. He was always first to read The Gisborne Herald at home when it got delivered and school was heaven, he said.

He is the son of Frederick Nehu Naden of Te Whanau a Ruataupare, Tokomaru Bay and Mihinoa Kohere of Te Whanau a Rerewa, Ngai Tuiti Matua and Te Whanau a Tuwhakairiora of Rangitukia.

Joe's father got a job in the attorney general's office in Wellington in 1916 but later that year, at the age of 19, he enlisted in the Auckland Regiment for World War 1.

He was wounded at La Basse-Ville while the NZ Division was freeing the village from Germans. He went through the battle of Passchendaele and was awarded the Military Medal for Acts of Gallantry.

In 1922, Fred returned to Tokomaru Bay and never left, apart from a stint in the RNZAF during World War 2. He passed away in 1950 at the age of 51 as a result of the effects of World War 1.

Joe's mother Mihinoa Kohere was the first-born of Reverend Canon Poihipi Mokena Kohere. She attended Hukarere Girls' College and became a nurse. She died in 1944 at the age of 36 during childbirth, leaving six children under seven in their father's care.

“We had several child carers, and in 1949 our father married again, four months before he passed away,” said Joe.

“As soon as we reached adolescence we all left home and most ended up in Auckland staying with an uncle.”

When Joe started at Otahuhu College, one of the largest secondary schools in New Zealand at the time, he was shocked by the difference to his schooling in Tokomaru Bay.

“It was so big, so many pupils, so many teachers compared to the 52 students, two teachers and two prefabricated classrooms at Tokomaru MDHS,” Joe said.

“In my second year I was selected for the first 15 who played in the senior competition for Auckland secondary schools. Two of my teammates became All Blacks — Mac Herewini and Waka Nathan.”

The school produced Gilbert and Sullivan operas and Joe was in four of them. This was where his interest in acting began.

“Otahuhu College gave me my start in life.”

In 1957 Joe began a bachelor of arts at Auckland University and took a while to complete it part-time, as other interests took over.

Joe married Ngarangi McLaughlin, a fellow teacher, from Te Whanau a Apanui, Whakatohea and Ngati Awa ki Whakatane in 1961 and family soon came along.

Once Joe completed his BA he taught for a year at Auckland primary schools before deciding to explore other opportunities.

He was employed as a personnel officer in the head office of Alex Harvey Industries where he was responsible for the “young people” in 100 factories throughout New Zealand.

“These were the graduates, cadets and apprentices who numbered in the hundreds.”

He then moved to Lion Breweries hotels division in Wellington where he was employed in the hiring of hotel managers for the hundred or so hotels and taverns throughout New Zealand.

In 1971 Tamati Reedy, an officer in the Education Department in Wellington, asked Joe if he would like the opportunity to learn te reo Maori as a vacancy was going at Waikohu College in Te Karaka.

“I had always wanted to fill this gap in my education. Both my parents were fluent speakers but Sir Apirana Ngata had advised Maori parents to speak English to their children, as English was the main language. My parents followed his advice.

“So I jumped at the chance,” Joe said.

“Waikohu College had a roll of 600 with about 20 to 30 Pakeha pupils,” he said.

“I began there as the sole teacher but because of the large number of pupils opting for Maori education, I was desperate to find extra teachers.

“I pleaded with Carol Haapu to join me and after some hesitancy she agreed. I remember her reply to my request ‘but I can't talk Maori!' And my reply, ‘you'll soon learn'.

“We were later joined by two more teachers of the reo — Turuhira Tatare and Honour Goldsmith.”

After seven years Joe had a fair grasp of te reo and was asked to join the Gisborne Education Centre as an adviser on the teaching of te reo Maori.

“I travelled between Hicks Bay and Raupunga for the next five years before deciding it was time to move on.”

Joe applied for a position as an inspector of primary schools in the Auckland Education Board and was accepted.

“I found I was the first Maori appointed to that board and found only one other in Wellington.

“I was tasked with regularly reviewing and reporting on the 50 schools I was allocated. I had to be available at all times to answer requests for assistance and advice from these schools. I had to inspect and grade teachers, offer advice on curriculum, use of resources, and the organisation of the school.

“The hours were long and the work onerous. But it was rewarding.”

Joe also had a role to teach the inspectors te reo Maori me ona tikanga. He said the general opinion from people was “it was about time”.

He administered a team of resource teachers of Maori who visited schools from Rangiriri in the south of Auckland to Te Kao in the north.

As an inspector, Joe was called in to assist the new kura kaupapa Maori movement under Pita Sharples.

“We had to find schools willing to accommodate the kohanga reo children once they reached five years old. I had also been present when the Ataarangi movement began in Tokomaru Bay under Ngoi Pewhairangi and Katarina Mataira.”

In 1989 Tomorrow's Schools came in and the inspectors were made redundant.

“I was offered a place in the new Education Review Office but declined.”

In 1998 at the age of 60 he went back to the University of Auckland to complete a Master of Education — with Honours.

“I did this because I realised I had fallen behind in my education and wanted to understand the concept of colonisation and its effect on Maori. My thesis was on the effect of colonisation on Maori through education which was deliberately designed to turn Maori into brown-skinned Pakeha,” Joe said.

“The quality of education in New Zealand schools has slumped to its lowest level ever.”

Since then Joe has been employed in several advisory and teaching roles at kura kaupapa, polytechnics, teachers' college and for the Ministry of Education.

“I finally retired from education at the age of 75 and have taken up a part-time role as a researcher in a law firm dealing with Waitangi Tribunal claims against the Crown's failure to deliver to Maori in almost all areas — education, health, women's affairs, foreshore issues, military veterans and many more. My background in education gives me a strong basis for attacking the education failures of the Crown over the years and in the present.”

For most of his life Joe has found time to be involved in acting in film, light and comic opera and drama presentations.

“Perhaps my biggest role was as the Duke of Venice in Don Selwyn's production of the Maori Merchant of Venice, where all the script was in te reo Maori. The film was shown in Gisborne with five of the leading cast members in attendance.

“Don Selwyn introduced the actors after the film and I was thrilled when Don presented me to the audience with ‘And your own, Joe Naden!' The applause was amazing.”

Joe has five children and all were educated in Gisborne.

“In 1981 we lost our daughter Andrea who died of a brain aneurysm at the age of 13.

“Our other children are Guy who graduated in medicine, Maxine with an MA (Hons) in Education, Darrell an LLB and Andrew a Fine Arts degree, all gained from the University of Auckland.”

He has 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Joe survives with two of his family members. His older sister Olive, who is married to Ike Tangihaere of Ngati Maniapoto and they live in Taumarunui. Their daughter is Tracey Tangihaere who has worked in Gisborne for a number of years and lives at Manutuke with her partner, Peter Brown.

His younger brother Eddie lives in their old family home in Tokomaru Bay. Eddie spent most of his life in the New Zealand Army.

Joe still comes home to Tokomaru Bay to attend iwi, hapu and whanau hui and tangihanga. “I am saddened every time I return to find old faces missing, and memories flood my mind.”

FOR MAORI: Joe Naden has done a lot in his life to promote Maori education. He is based in Auckland where this photo was taken. Picture by Billie Naden