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Dame Whina's work continues

RHIANNON HORRELL
Last updated 05:00 24/08/2012
Janelle Murphy
JASON OXENHAM/ Fairfax NZ
LIVING MEMORIES: Three Kings resident Janelle Murphy is fundraising to create a documentary about her great-grandmother Dame Whina Cooper.

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Gone but by no means forgotten. The life of legendary Maori land advocate Dame Whina Cooper is living on through her descendants.

Three Kings resident Janelle Murphy is taking up a challenge to produce a documentary about her well-known great-grandmother.

Dame Whina is best known for her involvement with the Maori Land March of 1975 and her work to promote Maori rights and culture.

Ms Murphy says a string of events led her to start following in the footsteps of her elder.

"In 2009 I started having these vivid dreams about Dame Whina," she says.

"She came to me and needed me to do favours for her. She had left a lot of things unfinished. She was thinking of everyone around her. Part of it is my personal journey and part of it is her journey," Ms Murphy says.

"We are responsible to carry on the work our ancestors began. The DNA is within us."

She describes her late great-grandmother as a shrewd businesswoman. The year 2014 marks 20 years since Dame Whina's death.

The documentary will feature memoirs about Dame Whina as told by relatives, Ms Murphy says.

"Obviously I'm not a professional director or anything but I have to find a way to do it. The time for this work to happen is now."

Ms Murphy is hoping to raise $2000 through the PledgeMe website for the project.

She works at Auckland University's kohanga reo in the city and says being in a university environment has helped a great deal because she can approach academics with the idea.

"People just help. It's been an awesome journey and I'm making reconnections with family. Whether I raise the money or not, it's about getting people to believe."

Dame Whina built her own urban marae in Epsom and one of Ms Murphy's goals is to "build her marae back up" into a well-used venue.

She says any money raised will go towards the marae.

The deadline for the fundraising target is August 28 at 6pm. Go to pledgeme.co.nz/321 to donate.

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- East And Bays Courier

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