Patrick Smyth

Ngā Puhi

1893 -

He was born in Pungare, Kerikeri, the son of a chieftainess from Waihou, Hokianga, and an Irishman fighting in the Land Wars. He attended St Stephen’s School at the age of sixteen and was a prefect and head boy. After leaving school, he taught at Newmarket School and was invited to teach at St Stephen’s. He worked as a junior assistant and senior assistant, and studied at university part-time, graduating with a B.A. in 1930 at the age of thirty-seven. During the Second World War, he was a captain in the Command A Ngapuhi Company of the 2nd Māori Battalion stationed at Ohaeawai. He returned to St Stephen’s in 1946 and was appointed acting headmaster, before becoming headmaster in 1947. He lectured in Māori Education at Auckland Teachers’ Training College. He was secretary of the Akaroa Māori Association for many years. In 1955 he took an early retirement from St Stephen’s due to ill health and died four months later after a forty-four year association with the school.

Biographical sources

  • Te Ao Hou 10 (1955): 18-19.


  • Te Reo Māori: A Guide to the Study of Māori Language. Rev. 2nd ed. Christchurch, N.Z.: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1942. 1st ed. 1939.
  • Smyth writes in his Preface that this publication is "the result of many years’ study and twenty years’ teaching practice." He adds "[i]t is an honest endeavour to place in the hands of the beginner a course which is easily followed and mastered. The phraseology is that of the teacher to the student." The book is divided into chapter headings dealing with pronunciation and the use of the following parts of speech: noun, adjective, pronoun, verb, preposition and adverb.
  • Māori Pronunciation and the Evolution of Written Māori. Christchurch, N.Z.: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1946. 2nd Impression 1946. 3rd Impression 1950.
  • This small booklet is divided into two sections dealing with Māori pronunciation and the evolution of written Māori. Smyth maintains that the ‘incorrect pronunciation of Māori place names will inevitably cause the extinction of the Māori language.’ He adds that ‘The Māori, particularly, will be very grateful to the educationists, who are endeavouring to save the Māori language by insisting on correct pronunciation; and the Māori will always beseech the Europeans to save the Māori language from extinction. One very patent way to help to save the language is to learn how to pronounce it correctly.’ In the first section Smyth discusses the Māori alphabet, the long and short vowel sounds, consonants, and where to place stress on Māori words. In the second section Smyth traces the history of the Māori language by noting early 19th century references to the language by Dr John Savage, John Liddiard Nicholas, Rev William Yate, J. M Moore and others, and describes the missionary history of transliterating the Māori language, translating Biblical texts and tracts into Māori, and compiling Māori grammars.


  • Taylor, Melvin. "Two Personalities: A Contrast: II. Pat Smyth." Te Ao Hou 10(1955): 17-19.
  • "Haere Ki O Koutou Tipuna." Te Ao Hou 9 (1954): 3.