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No. 36 (September 1961)
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A well-known Rotorua identity and a member of the Te Arawa tribe recently passed away at the Rotorua Hospital in his 88th year. His funeral was at Kokohinau Pa, Te Teko, a district where he had been a successful farmer for many years.

Born in the Taupo area, “Dick” Park clearly remembered when Mr. Tarawera erupted in 1886. He was about 12 years old at that time and astride a white horse some distance from the scene of destruction and therefore escaped the fate of his mother, and other members of his immediate family who were killed by the eruption.

His father, also Richard Park, was a Scotchman who became the first Postmaster at Taupo and was assigned by the Government to let the first trout loose in that lake that is now so famous for fishing. His mother was a chieftainness of Tuwharetoa, Te Angaangawaero Merepeka Poia … by name, and through her lineage “Dick” Park could claim connection to many tribes through famous ancestors. He was related closely to the well-known Ngati Toa chief Te Rauparaha.

Educated at Te Aute College and St. Patrick's school, Wellington, he furthered his studies at Victoria University, where he took a keen interest in the legal profession. However, the Land Court judge Percy Smith took young “Dick” under his wing and made him a cadet in his Wellington office. While at Te Aute College with Ngata, Buck, and other well known members of the Maori Party, he excelled in sport; was a member of the rugby fifteen, and took an interest in wrestling. In the winter examinations at the age of 17, he came second to the head College boy (who was the son of the European teacher Mr Reed). Later Mr Park was the constant companion of Elsdon Best and acted as the Maori Interpreter for the Commission when that body was appointed to make sure of titles to 600,000 acres of Uruwera land.

Mr Park was a Boer War Veteran, and at the time of his death was one of the three surviving Maori veterans.

At one stage of his life he stood for Parliament when he contested the Eastern Maori electorate against Sir Apirana Ngata, but was defeated. He was a well known figure on many a Marae and was a licensed interpreter.

He is survived by three sons, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Sent in by

George F. Howe