Maui Pomare


Maui Pomare was born of the Rangatira iwi (Maori tribe) in the North Island Taranaki region of New Zealand. His grandmother was one of the few women to sign the Treaty of Waitangi. He was educated at St Stephens College, Christchurch Boys High and Te Aute College, and supported assimilation.

Nearing the end of his education at Te Aute College, Maui Pomare became a Seventh Day Adventist, and in the mid 1890s travelled to the US to study medicine. When he graduated in 1899, he was the first Maori doctor.

Maui Pomare returned to New Zealand, and became the medical officer in the Health Department, and was responsible for Maori health. He worked with Te Rangi Hiroa (Peter Buck), and vaccinated against contagious diseases as well as campaigning for the building of latrines in Maori villages.

In four years, he burnt 1256 unhygenic Maori buildings, and replaced these with 2103 new houses and over a thousand latrines. In doing so, he helped to reduced the Maori mortality rate, which was so high that the Maori were considered to be a race that would become extinct.

In 1911, Maui Pomare entered Parliament, and won the Western Maori seat. In 1912, he was a cabinet minister in the new Reform Government led by William Massey. Maui Pomare firmly supported assimilation, and urged Maori to sell their land and adopt Pakeha culture and practises. He held the portfolios of Health, International Affairs and Minister in charge of the Cook Islands from 1912-1928. As Health Minister, he also tried to overhaul NZ’s backward mental hospitals.

He was accepted and popular in Pakeha circles, and was knighted in 1922. His assimilation views made him unpopular in Maori circles, but endeared him to Pakeha colleagues, who referred to him as ‘Pom’.

"There is no alternative but to become a pakeha... There is no hope for the Maori but in ultimate absorption by the pakeha. This is his only hope, if hope it be to find his descendants merged in the future sons of the Briton of the Southern Hemisphere. Sons who will not forget that in them runs the warrior blood of unconquered chieftans of centuries, and who, on the other hand, will be imbued with loyalty and imperialism, proud of being members of the Empire to which belong their fathers."
- Maui Pomare

Maori and Pakeha (Race Relations 1912-1980) :- Mark Sheehan

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