Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Biography gifted to seconday schools
400 secondary schools in New Zealand, Niue, the Cook Islands and Tokelau will receive copies of the just published biography Te Oka – Pākehā Kaumātua … The life of Jock McEwen thanks to a grant from the Stout Trust, facilitated by the Friends of the Turnbull Library.
During his lifetime, Jock McEwen became a respected public servant, an accomplished linguist a master carver, a historian and a composer who was equally at home in Maori and Pacific Island settings as he was as a Pākehā. His early career in the Department of Māori Affairs saw him mentored by Sir Apirana Ngata and become a founding member of the Ngāti Pōneke Young Māori Club. In 1953 he was appointed as Resident Commissioner for Niue Island, followed later by appointments to head the Island Territories and Māori Affairs Departments.
Jock travelled widely throughout the Pacific. He visited the United Nations several times on decolonisation matters affecting New Zealand’s Pacific territories, spoke at UN conferences in Brazil and Cameroon, and chaired a UN visiting mission to Papua-New Guinea.
In retirement, Jock gave 35 years of voluntary service to the community including helping to establish Ōrongomai Marae in Upper Hutt (he was already a founding member of Upper Hutt’s Māwai Hakona Māori Association for whom he composed a number of songs used by the group in competitions). He taught Māori carving to Māori trade trainees, inmates of Rimutaka prison and others, producing many of the carvings that adorn meeting houses, including those at Pipitea, Ōrongomai and Pirinoa marae and the two large pou at the entrance to the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington.
He was a member of the revision committee for the sixth edition of the Williams Māori dictionary, he wrote the first full dictionary of the Niuean language and also Rangitāne a Tribal History.
“I am delighted that the Friends of the Turnbull and the Stout Trust have enabled young people to read about Jock McEwen” said author Mary McEwen, Jock’s daughter-in-law.“Writing the biography made me appreciate how much he had contributed to New Zealand and the greater Pacific