The Rebirth of a Race.
Some Observations on the Recent Maori Census.
In 1859 F. D. Fenton calculated that from the rate of decrease of the Maori race, the population in 1942 would be 15,343, whereas the recent census gives the population in 1936 as 82,326. In the five years 1921–1926, the pakeha and Maori increased at approximately the same rate, the figures being—European 10·69; Maori 11·73.
The next census revealed a most interesting position, as for the 10 years 1926–1936, the European rate had increased to merely 10·93, including immigration, whereas the Maori population, by natural increase only, had increased by 29·30 per cent.
A decline in the European birthrate seems inevitable, but there are many factors operating to cause the Maori rate of increase to become steadily greater. The Maori population is predominantly youthful as compared with the European population, which is predominantly adult. The non-adult Maori population is 56·59 per cent. compared with 36·16 per cent. for the European.
The drift of Maori population to urban areas is shown by an increase of 50·63 per cent. in the 10 years from 1926–1936.
Attention must be given to the figures provided by the reports on vital statistics and public health. The Maori birthrate in 1939 was 46·64 per 1000, while the European birthrate in the same year was 17·29 per 1000. The Maori death rate in 1939 was 18·29 per 1000 as against the European death rate of 9·08 per 1000. In addition, infant mortality is high with the Maori, and yet the survival rate of the Maoris is almost three times that of the Europeans.
The occupational destiny of the Maori is the crux of the problem, and herein lies the challenge of the Maori census figures. Only a small proportion of the younger Maoris receive adequate training. Too many are dependent upon seasonal demands for casual labour. If the rapidly growing Maori population is to be worthily absorbed into the national life of this Dominion, a wider training must be given in specialised activities to enable the Maori to stand equally alongside his pakeha brother or sister in the economic life of the community.