Story: Māori housing – te noho whare

Māori health publication, Etahi mate rere, 1902 (2nd of 2)

In 1902 Māui Pōmare wrote Etahi mate rere, the first of a number of publications about ways to improve Māori health. It described the symptoms and treatment of infectious diseases such as smallpox. This included improving the condition and hygiene of housing to help stop the spread of disease. A section from page 4 about disinfecting a dwelling has been translated below.

The room should be thoroughly cleaned with disinfectant, including the floor, the walls, and the ceiling. If there is any wallpaper sticking on the sides, cut it off completely.

The disinfectant to wash down the rooms is carbolic acide 1-40, Calvert's No. 5, half a pint to the gallon. Once the disinfecting process is complete, fetch a tub and put some water in it, then leave standing in the centre of the room. Then add sulphur to a pot, soak it in methylated spirits, close all the windows, and set the sulphur alight and leave to burn. Firmly close the windows, the door and any other places where smoke might escape. Once this is finished leave it for a day before opening, and then open so the breeze and light can come in. Leave it open for between three days and a week. Then clean the room out with soda and water, leave it to dry, and then it will be fine to live in again.

Use one and half pounds of sulphur per 1,000 cubic feet of the room. Multiply the length by the width by the height to see the cubic contents of the room.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: Maui Pomare, Etahi mate rere. Poneke: Kai-ta a te Kawanatanga, 1902 (B-K-255)

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Ben Schrader, 'Māori housing – te noho whare - Whare and health', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 28 June 2022)

Story by Ben Schrader, published 5 Sep 2013