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  • Māori Issues
  • Margaret Mutu (bio)

The year under review was one of shocking upheavals for Māori in more ways than one. In August and September 2010 we lost some key leaders. In September 2010, in February 2011, and in June 2011, Christchurch suffered a series of earthquakes that left many Māori families devastated and feeling abandoned as recovery aid passed them by. On the political scene, Prime Minister John Key finally got his wish when the Māori Party forced Hōne Harawira out, only to have Harawira win a by-election for his Taitokerau seat and return to Parliament as the leader of the new Mana Movement. But the most bewildering development was the Māori Party turning its back on its constituents and supporting the passage into law of the racist Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill. [End Page 184]

On 17 August 2010, two very different leaders from different parts of the country passed away. In Taranaki, Te Miringa Hohaia died unexpectedly at the age of fifty-eight. He was a scholar, artist, and activist who spent his adult life fighting the injustices perpetrated on his Taranaki people by the British. He was trained and deeply skilled in the traditions, customs, and history of his ancestral home, Parihaka, a place renowned for the atrocities that the British committed there over many years. In the 1970s he was involved in the eventually successful Treaty of Waitangi claims against the Crown to stop the pollution and despoliation of the seafood beds off the north Taranaki coast. In the 1990s he was one of the leaders of the complex and successful Taranaki Treaty claims. In 2000 he co-curated the hugely successful landmark exhibition Parihaka, The Art of Passive Resistance at Wellington's City Gallery, and in 2005 he created the Parihaka International Peace Festival, which has become an annual celebration of the heritage of Taranaki (Ashworth, Hond, and Hohaia 2010; Māori Party 2010a). An obituary noted, "In life he was akin to his tupuna [ancestors], becoming perhaps the most hated person in the province among Pakeha in the 1980s as he fought the injustice of the pittance paid by leaseholders farming confiscated Taranaki Maori reserve land. . . . Opponents vilified him, echoing the 19th century settler reaction to the non-violent campaign of Parihaka founders Tohu and Te Whiti" (Ashworth, Hond, and Hohaia 2010, 9).

On the east coast, Te Kapunga (Koro) Matemoana Dewes passed away. He was staunchly Ngāti Porou, a scholar, a thinker, and the architect of the Māori Studies Department at Victoria University in Wellington. There he challenged the dry, dusty approach to university teaching and scholarship imported from Britain, writing the first MA thesis in the Māori language. However, he was passed over as the inaugural head of the department, so he left academia and returned home to his Ngāti Porou roots to farm and work for his people. It was many years before Victoria University recognized his contributions. In 2004 they awarded him an honorary doctorate in literature (Fox 2010).

In September 2010, Sir Archie John Te Atawhai Taiaroa passed away. He was Te Atihaunui a Pāpārangi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, and Ngāti Apa and chairman of the Whanganui River Māori Trust Board. He played a key role in one of the nation's longest running court cases—the Whanganui River claim. He took a number of leading roles tribally, nationally, and internationally. He was at the heart of the protracted Māori fisheries struggles and a leader of the Māori broadcasting litigation that spanned over twenty years and led to Māori radio and television. He traveled to the United Nations, the International Whaling Commission, and the Privy Council in London to defend the rights of Māori and indigenous people (Māori Party 2010b; Harawira 2010).

On 8 September, the first earthquake hit Christchurch. It measured 7.1 on the Richter scale and, while there was extensive damage to buildings in the central business district in particular, there was no loss of human life. Hundreds of aftershocks followed, [End Page 185] and a magnitude 6.3 quake on 22 February...


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