- Māori Issues
Over the past year we lost a number of leaders who spent their lives fighting for justice for Māori. In September 2015, Lady Emily Latimer of Whakatōhea passed away. She was a staunch supporter of Māori in her work with the Māori Women’s Welfare League and Māori Wardens and was a tireless supporter of her husband, Sir Graham Latimer, who died nine months after his wife in June 2016; he had chaired the New Zealand Māori Council for many years. September 2015 was a particularly sad month. Two of our best-known clay artists, Manos Nathan and Colleen Waata Urlich, passed away within a fortnight of each other. Of Te Rōroa, Ngāpuhi, and Ngāti Whātua, Manos had an extensive background in woodcarving and sculpture, having carved the meeting house of his Matatina Marae in Waipoua Forest (Tamati-Quennell 2015). Colleen, of Te Popoto o Ngāpuhi ki Kaipara and Te Rarawa, was world renowned for her clay work, which has been exhibited throughout New Zealand and in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada (Tamati-Quennell 2015; Creative New Zealand 2015). Te Rarawa lost a greatly loved leader, Gloria Herbert. She was the chair of their iwi authority, served on the Waitangi Tribunal, and was well known as being caring and gentle but also very determined. Ngāreta Mete Jones of Te Rarawa was a lifelong worker for change for Māori. She was one of the founders of Kawariki, the movement that brought out a new generation of northern youth in the 1980s to protest the Crown’s failure to honor Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Māori-language treaty between Māori and the queen of England (Waatea News 2015b). Waereti Pōpata (Walters) of Te Paatu, Ngāti Kahu, was a fearless Māori rights advocate and one of the first Māori community health workers.
In November 2015, we lost Dr Bruce Gregory of Ngāti Te Ao, Te Rarawa. He was the member of Parliament (mp) for Northern Māori from 1980 until 1993. He dedicated his life to Māori health and the sovereignty of his hapū (group of extended families) (Collins 2015b). In January 2016, it was Andy Sarich of Ngāpuhi. He was dedicated to the retention of the Māori language in Te Taitokerau (the [End Page 144] North) and served on a wide range of community committees, councils, and the Lotteries Commission (Waatea News 2016a). In February, it was Emeritus Professor Ranginui Walker of Te Whakatōhea. He fought for almost five decades to lift the burden of colonialism and marginalization off Māori. He was one of Maoridom’s most influential academic leaders and advocates for Māori rights and social justice. He used his columns in the weekly Listener magazine and his six books to educate New Zealanders about the history of this country and the abrogation of the human and treaty rights of Māori that continues to this day (Mutu 2016a).
Whai Ngata of Ngāti Porou left us in April 2016. He was the journalist and broadcaster who established the Māori news program Te Karere on tvnz, leading a small group in the successful battle to maintain a Māori presence on national television. He was also a lexicographer who helped complete his father’s English-Māori dictionary (Harawira 2016). In May, it was Mānuera Tohu of Ngāti Kahu and Te Rarawa, another lifelong advocate for the retention of the Māori language. He served on the Kōhanga Reo (Māori language immersion preschools) National Trust for many years and was a greatly esteemed orator and expert in tikanga (Māori law) and whakapapa (genealogy) and a kaumātua (respected elder) for the New Zealand Police. In June, it was Rob Cooper of Ngāti Hine. He made huge contributions to Māori health and education, with a long record on treaty education and social justice issues. Thousands of mourners traveled to pay their respects to each of these great leaders, celebrating their lives and achievements, and bidding them farewell as...