Prominent Māori writer Rowley Habib passes away

By Online News Team
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

One of Māoridoms most distinguished writers has passed away at the age of 83.

Rowley Habib of Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent passed away yesterday 3 April.

Habib, also known as Rore Hapipi, became the first Māori to write an original television drama called The Gathering which looked at tensions around an elderly woman's tangihanga. 

He also wrote the Māori play, Death of the Land in 1976 which tells the story of whether or not a block of Māori land should be sold.

Information provided by New Zealand on Screen says Habib later met Maori actor and film director Don Selwyn at teachers' college. 

"When Selwyn got involved with the Māori Theatre Trust in the 60s, Habib began coming along to rehearsals. He encouraged Selwyn to direct, weary of watching Pākehā directors telling Māori actors how to play Māori," it states.

The Tele-play The Protesters was another piece of award-winning material produced by Habib. In 1983 the tele-play won the award for best script at the Feltex Awards. The cast of The Protesters comprised Merata Mita, Jim Moriarty and Billy T James. 

Just recently in 2013, Habib was honoured for his contribution to Māori arts at the Te Waka Toi Awards. His play Death of the Land was acknowledged and described as a "landmark in the development of Maori theatre."

Details of Habib's tangihanga have not been released, however, he will return to his home in Oruanui, near Taupō.

Nō reira e te rangatira o te ao whakaari Māori, kia au tō moe. 

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