On-site burial granted for Wellington marae founder and Maori activist Bruce Stewart
Bruce Stewart, the founder of Wellington's eclectic Tapu Te Ranga Marae, has been granted his dying wish, to be buried on the land
Stewart, 80, had been ill after having a stroke. The father of 12 died peacefully in his sleep at the marae in Island Bay on Wednesday morning.
The marae sprawls across the hillside of the south coast suburb. It has been a work in progress since the 1970s, built with the help of hundreds of Maori from different iwi.
In 2009 Stewart told Stuff how, in 1974, he "got out of jail with $25 and a dream".
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When he got out of prison, he found many young Maori in the capital with no jobs and scant prospects.
Stewart worked with the homeless, gang members and the unemployed to deliver social services through a work co-operative to give them trade skills.
His family had applied under urgency to the Ministry of Health under the special circumstances clause of the Burial and Cremation Act for him to be buried on the site, and it was approved with signoff from Wellington Mayor Justin Lester on Thursday.
"The Stewart whanau are grateful for the support we have received throughout this process and relieved that we can fulfil Matua Bruce's wish to be buried on his whenua, where his journey will end," family spokesman Gabriel Tupou said.
Stewart's funeral service is on Sunday morning at the marae.
"Matua Bruce will be remembered for his service to arts and culture as a gospel and jazz singer, actor, literary author, and a playwright," Tupou said.
"His plays advocated for Maori rights during the Maori renaissance of the 1980s. He was a passionate activist during a time when Maori were emerging in politics, culture and art."