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Maori abstinence pledge card


A pledge not to drink alcohol, and a membership badge produced by the Fellowship of St Matthew (Wellington Archdiocese) in 1939. The pledge translates as:

The Fellowship of [Saint] Matthew
I, __
Hereby make an oath, starting today, to completely abstain from drinking alcohol, and accordingly I write my name below.

The badge attached to the card shows the words: Patua te Ngarara (Fight the monster).

Maori and prohibition

The New Zealand Alliance and other groups had a long history of promoting temperance among Maori, and the cause was supported by many Maori leaders, including Sir Apirana Ngata and Bishop F.A. Bennett. But because liquor-licensing districts were based on the general (European) seats, Maori voters (apart from so-called 'half-castes' enrolled in general seats) did not take part in local no-licence polls between 1894 and 1914. Maori electors were also excluded from voting in national licensing referendums until 1949, the first election in which electoral rolls were used in the four Maori seats.

There was one Maori 'dry' district, though: the King Country, or Te Rohe Pōtae, was declared a special no-licence district in 1884, at the request of Ngāti Maniapoto leaders. Although there were no licensed premises in the district, local Pākehā could bring in alcohol for their own consumption and a 'sly-grog' trade flourished. King Country remained 'dry' until 1954, when locals voted to restore licences in a special poll.


Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: Eph-A-ALCOHOL-Temperance-1939-01
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image

How to cite this page

Maori abstinence pledge card, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated