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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sir Howard Morrison mourned for stellar contribution

Entertainer Sir Howard Morrison is being remembered not just for his on-stage achievements but for his contributions to Maori development.

Sir Howard died in Rotorua this morning, just days after returning from a trip to Rarotonga accompanying King Tuheitia. He was 74.

Friend and former Maori Affairs deputy secretary Neville Baker says the singer was one of a number of artists and community leaders recruited into the department in the late 1970s by Kara Puketapu.

As youth development director he promoted the Tu Tangata programme around schools, drawing on the discipline and adaptiveness required for a career on stage.

“He effectively was what I call an entrepreneurial appointment. He was able to do stuff and bring attention to things like training and employment opportunities that normal people, community officers, trade training people probably weren’t able to do because they didn’t have the connections that he had,” Mr Baker says.

He says the night before his death Sir Howard was discussing plans to contribute to training programes at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.


Whanua and friends are turning up to the Morrison home across the road from Tunohopu marae in Rotorua to pay their respects to Sir Howard Morrison.

Among them is police superintendant Wally Haumaha, who says there is an atmosphere of great sadness as family members gather.

Tomorrow Sir Howard will be taken about 500 meters to where his mother lived in Ohinemutu, before he is escorted by a full haka party into Tama Te Kapua where he will lie until Tuesday.


And a second mighty Totara has fallen today.

Pakeha academic James Ritchie, a close confident of the late Te Atairangikaahu and her brother Robert Mahuta and the founder of Waikato University's ground-breaking Centre for Maori Studies, died this morning after a long illness.

Colleague Wharehuia Milroy says as an advisor to Tainui and other iwi for more than half a century Professor Ritchie developed a great knowledge or te ao Maori.

He did much to bridge the country's cultural divide.

“He was a man of great mana, great standing. He will be sadly missed. His insightfulness, his intelligence, his ability to sort out a lot of issues in the area of race relations, so I think he made a great contribution to race relations in New Zealand,” Professor Milroy says.

Tainui spokesperson Tom Roa says James Ritchie will be taken onto Turangawaewae Marae at 3pm tomorrow. After spending the night on the marae he will be taken to the Endowment College at Hopuhopu to lie beside his friend Sir Robert Mahuta before being returned to his family for burial at
Newstead cemetery south of Hamilton.


A Maori entertainer who sung te reo to Pakeha audiences and a Pakeha academic who walked easily in te ao Maori are being mourned today.

In Rotorua, preparations are being made at Tunohopu Marae for the tangi of Sir Howard Morrison, who died this morning at the age of 74.

And Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia is preparing to welcome for the last time Professor James Ritchie, a close friend and advisor to a generation of Tainui leaders including te Atairangikaahu, Robert Mahuta and Hare Puke.

Former Waikato university professor Wharehuia Milroy, who worked with both men, says in their own ways they contributed a huge amount to the country.

“One spent his time in an academic field but making a huge impact there and the other one in the world of music in which he also gave messaged out to our people of Aotearoa so both were bridges into each other’s culture,” Mr Milroy says.


Iwi have today been hearing from Native American business leaders on how they can use their assets for economic and social development.

Tainui executive member Rahui Papa says the the Navigating Our Future economic summit at Hopuhopu has brought about 40 manuhiri from North America, as well as invited iwi and Maori business leaders.

He says by growing economic power through casinos and other ventures, tribes like the Seminole and Choctaw have been able to put in place social end economic development programmes for their people that Maori might emulate.

“We have a saying it is only with feathers that the bird will be able to fly and so we have to feather the nest as it were before we allow the baby chicks to go forward and prosper so we don’t have to be reliant on the government spend,” Mr Papa says.

The summit continues tomorrow.


From the opening sounds of opera sung te reo the eight designers in today's MiroModa Maori showcase signaled they were serious about blending Maori and Pakeha elements in fashion.

Waatea News reporter Maania Clarke says the Air New Zealand Fashion Week tent at Auckland's viaduct was filled to capacity for the show.

She says Kiri Nathan’s elaborate creations received the most applause.

The MiroModa Fashion Show was dedicated to weaver Diggeress Te Kanawa, who died last month, and entertainer Sir Howard Morrison, who died just hours before the models set out along the catwalk.


Anonymous Alan said...

Over 50 years ago when I first went to Ngati Poneke and members learned I was a student, the most common question they asked me was "Do you know Jim Ritchie?" and they seemed surprised I didn't. When I eventually met Jim I understood why - even then he excelled in both cultures. No only a mainstream University lecturer but also the leader of Ngati Poneke's kapa haka group!

What a great guy, and how lucky I was to have known him. I was having a teenage mixed-race identity crisis at a time when people were supposed to be either Maori or Pakeha, and Jim showed me by his own life how much more rewarding it was to embrace the best of both cultures.

I am sure he ruffled a few feathers in University circles back then. What a testimony to his life that the tributes are so generous from present-day University colleagues as well as from Maori!

11:37 AM  

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