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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bishop Vercoe prophet of time

Maoridom made its way to the eastern Bay of Plenty over the weekend to pay tribute to an extraordinary leader.

Anglican archbishop Whakahuihui Vercoe died on Thursday aged 79.

A priest since 1952, he was made head of the Maori arm of the church in 1981.

Former bishop of New Zealand Sir Paul Reeves, who consecrated him as Bishop of Aotearoa, says because of the decision by the church to split into three different congregations, Bishop Vercoe had more authority than his predecessors.

His success in that role led to his appointment in 2004 as Bishop of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

“That was a really great appointment. You know he was not an easy fellow, but prophets never are, are they, but he spoke uncomfortable truths many times. He was a man who was in the business of justice, and not simply that he speak the word but he also walked the walk,” Sir Paul says.

He says Bishop Vercoe's speech at Waitangi in 1990, in which he told the Queen that Maori people had been marginalised and the treaty ignored, was one of the most outstanding sermons of the 20th century.


Environment Waikato and the Raukawa Trust Board have pledged to work together on environmental issues.

Jenni Vernon, the chair of the regional council, says the memorandum follows similar agreements with Hauraki and Maniapoto.

They'll be sharing some resources and working towards an iwi management plan, which will cover some of the major issues in the upper Waikato area.

“The critical factor for Raukawa at the moment is pine to pasture, that’s happening in the upper catchment, where potentially 70,000 hectares going into pasture from pine trees. Now that’s got some water quality issues and some flood management issues. That’s one of the issues that we. share some concern about together,” Ms Vernon says.

She says Environment Waikato and iwi in the region share a common concern for the natural environment.


A school principal and one of his students are among the winners of the Pikihuia awards for Maori writers.

Uenuku Fairhall from Rotorua’s Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Koutu wrote the best short story in Maori, while Te Teira Maxwell scooped the prize for best story in Maori by a secondary school student.

Robyn Bargh from the Maori Literature Trust and Huia Publishers says there was a high calibre of entries this year.

She says Maori writers are becoming more confident about submitting their work for consideration.

“This year I felt more than any other year that confidence. This year I think finalists and the winners are a combination of some of the more experienced writers – some of them have been finalists in the awards over a number of years – and then we’ve got emerging new talent. It’s really exciting. I think we’ve got some promising people coming forward,” Ms Bargh says.

The organiser of the Pikihuia award for Maori writers says the number of entries in te reo Maori exceeded all expectations.

The awards were announced in Wellington on Saturday night, and the finalists have been published by Huia Publishers.

Robyn Bargh from Huia and the Maori Literature Trust says Maori writing has changed since the awards were launched more than a decade ago, and not just in the willingness of people to write in Maori.

“Maori writing has moved on from where it was probably 15 years ago when a lot of it was concerned with identity – who am I and who are we? I think we have moved past that and are really exploring now our relationships and out inter-relationships in today's world,” Ms Bargh says.

Winners of the te reo Maori short story categories were Uenuku Fairhall, the principal of Rotorua's Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Koutu, and his student Te Teira Maxwell.

Danielle Cavey from Invercargill wrote the best short story in English by a secondary school student, while Royna Ngahuia Fifield from Palmerston North took the senior prize for a story in English.


A Te Rawara project manager has made the finals of the Young Engineer of the Year award.

Tyrone Newson from engineering consultancy Beca has been leading teams designing and constructing extensions to Auckland Airport's domestic and international terminals.

He has also taken a lead in creating professional support groups for Maori and Pacific Island engineers, both at university and out in the workforce.

Mr Newson says engineering hasn't had as high a profile for professionally-oriented Maori as careers in medicine, law or television.

“Lot of those professions seem more exciting and better paid, and unless you have a genuine interest in the engineering profession or the built environment around you, we’ve tended to shy away, but I think by having the groups that we’ve got now able to increase the profile of engineering and show how exciting it can be,” Mr Newson says.


A Maori filmmaker says Maori should go back to thinking about tikanga rather than intellectual property rights.

Barry Barclay says the furore over fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier's use of ta moko to call attention to his fashion range highlights the challenges Maori face in protecting their culture.

But there are risks with using frameworks like the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and Maori may be on stronger ground if they reach back into the past.

“My uncle was a carver. He never called his carvings intellectual property. He called them taonga. And they came under tikanga. That’s how we’ve looked after our treasures in the past, and if we can get the system to understands that and I think in our own day to day dealings, like often in the film business, we’re getting better at that,” Mr Barclay says.

As well as making films like Ngati and Feathers of Peace, Barry Barclay is the author of Mana Tuturu: Maori Treasures and Intellectual Property Rights


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