Sir Maui Pomare 'second to none'

Local iwi and dignitaries are welcomed on to Owae Marae.
Local iwi and dignitaries are welcomed on to Owae Marae.

A mixture of emotions were released at Owae Marae on Saturday when hundreds from around the country came together to remember Sir Maui Pomare.

The Maori national day of significance recognises the work of the first Maori doctor, Sir Maui, who was involved in health reforms, politics and in particular the inquiries into land confiscations.

Maui Pomare day was celebrated for the 76th year in Waitara – a day chosen as it is the first Saturday closest to June 27, the date he died in 1930.

Taranaki iwi and dignitaries including Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia and Attorney-General Chris Finlayson gathered on Saturday morning where they were welcomed to remember the former Health Minister, Sir Maui, and discuss issues arising over the last year.

Wreaths were placed at the base of Sir Maui's monument at the marae and the morning service was supported by a performance of the old waiata poi of Parihaka.

The poi was led by Whero Bailey and acknowledged the need for the younger generation to learn the culture's tradition and values to preserve them.

Speaking to the Taranaki Daily News before the welcome, Mrs Turia said it was great to see so many turn out to commemorate people who contributed so much to the country.

"Maui Pomare was second to none," she said.

For those Maori working in the health sector he acts as an inspiration and despite no longer being alive his spirit and record is a "symbol of what can be achieved".

She said it was his memory that brought everyone back to Owae Marae each year.

"Settlements are a big issue at the moment and likely to be discussed and how people might go about re-establishing the economic loss that was taken from them," she said.

Maori people were confident about reaching settlement. "I get the feeling from those involved in the settlement process it's going to come to fruition soon," she said.

In the thick of those negotiations but reluctant to make them a focal point on Saturday was Minister of Treaty of Waitangi negotiations Mr Finlayson.

His speech to those gathered centred on his drive to do more work with reforming Maori land law.

"We're in the middle of negotiations at the moment so that's not what I want to talk about here today."

But he did say there were 1.4 million hectares of Maori land, which was 5 per cent of the country's total land, and 80 per cent was underperforming.

"That's because of structural issues and fragmentation," he said.

Mr Finlayson said he was on target for all Taranaki iwi to have completed settlements by 2014.

"We've made really good progress and I made that commitment three years ago."

Taranaki Daily News