Saturday, 5 May 2007

Nga Kupu Aroha #14: Denis O'Reilly

Denis O'Reilly is a social innovator and activist based at Waiohiki Marae Napier. In 1977 I co-hosted him as a speaker in the inaugural University of Waikato Winter Lectures. He spoke, chanted and probably cursed in an address about gangs in New Zealand. The NZ situation was quite incendiary, and Denis triangulated between Black Power, the Mongrel Mob, others, and PM Muldoon. Many years later he has orchestrated major events involving New Zealand corporates and Maori. Three years ago I invited Denis to write a column for on the very dangerous edge of the methamphetamine epidemic in New Zealand, our incarceration culture, marginalized Maori - and his fresh ideas for creating ways out and ahead. This Irish Ngati Pakeha reports on events, people, protocols, local intel, highs, doubts and the occasional crisis, with a knowingness few New Zealanders have accumulated. BS

AROHAMAI (FORGIVE ME). Feeding the soul at Parihaka a century since the passing of Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai, “the human pillars of passive resistance in New Zealand”; a Festival with 7000 people clustered in campsites; the formalities of powhiri and the beauty of korero and waiata; remembrances of confiscation of land, imprisonment of people, rape of women, looting, invasion, forcible ejection and illegal arrest in 1881; postering about P (“beware of P and seek help if hooked”); “start with bring peace to your house, to your street and onward”; meeting up with Te Ringa Mangu Dun Mihaka; Unity Pacific, Batacuda Sound Machine and Kora; and the forthcoming St Patrick’s Day Maori/Celtic Hui & Huilli at Waiohiki Marae Napier with Governor General Anand Satyanand, Lady Thea Muldoon and Sir Tipene O’Regan in attendance for long festivities. 5500 words. First published March 07.

1 comment:

Sven Solen said...

The korero posted by Denis has a strength that reminds me of a passage from a rediscovered Baxter poem:

Kua timata te mahi –
The work has begun.
There are beans growing
And Karl planted them;
There are pumpkins growing
And Heto dug the ground;
There are eels in the pot
And Peter caught them – Yes,
Kua timata te mahi–
The work has begun.

Great to see the work has begun on spreading the korero via NZEDGE. Kia kaha!

(The full poem, He Waiata O Hemi,is available at the excellent NZ Electronic Text Centre, see