Ralph Hotere: Coming Home

As the school logbook recorded, the Native Supervisor himself considered Matihetihe’s “good physique was the best of all the schools in the district”, when he visited “to see if any problems attaching to the natives had cropped up”. The teacher recorded, too, the progress of the school’s brightest boy, who would score the highest mark in the Hokianga, and win a scholarship to secondary school – as indeed, at different times, did two of his brothers and three sisters. But Ralph’s first passion was for words. His writing was commended. The treat of the month was the arrival of the School Journal. He remembered as an important day in his life, his mother bringing home Tom Sawyer from the library in Rawene. Only in art he may have disappointed. His best mate scored “very good” for art. Ralph was only “good”.