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No. 59 (June 1967)
– 5 –

New Member of Parliament for Southern Maori

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Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan

As a result of a by-election on 11 March, 1967, Miss Whetu Marama Tirikatene followed in the footsteps of her late father, the Hon. Sir Eruera Tirikatene, as Member of Parliament for Southern Maori, representing the Labour Party.

Shortly after her election Miss Tirikatene returned to Australia where she has been reading for a Ph.D. degree in Political Science (her topic—‘Contemporary Maori Political Involvement’) at the Australian National University, Canberra, and married a fellow-student, Mr Denis Sullivan, a nuclear physicist. She is now back in New Zealand and expects her husband, who has recently submitted his doctoral dissertation, to join her in a few months.

Mrs Tirikatene-Sullivan has tribal links with Ngaitahu, through her father, and with Ngati Kahungunu, through her mother. She was born at Ratana Pa, where she had her early schooling, later attending several Canterbury primary schools, Rangiora High School, and in her final year, Wellington East Girls' College.

Before commencing her Ph.D. studies, the new member had been employed as a public servant since her schooldays. She first held a variety of secretarial positions including one on the 1953–54 Royal Tour Staff, and after graduating from Victoria University's School of Social Science as 1960's top student, changed to social work, acting as Child Welfare Officer, Social Security Welfare Officer and Maori Welfare Officer.

Mrs Tirikatene-Sullivan has been active in many educational fields, lecturing to adult education groups and Young Maori Leaders' Conferences on ‘Maori Crime’ and ‘Maori Population’, graduating in 1964 from Victoria University's School of Political Science and Public Administration, and holding office as Vice-President of V.U.W. Students' Association (1960–61) and first President (in 1960) of the Federation of Maori University students.

Her recreational interests include fencing—she was one of New Zealand's top four women fencers, and dancing—becoming New Zealand Ballroom and Latin American Dancing Champion with her Australian partner Mr K. Mansfield.

With her background of success in so many fields and her knowledge of Maori culture passed on by her late father, Mrs Tirikatene-Sullivan is an example to her people of the value of education, a value which she intends to stress during her parliamentary career.

– 6 –

The Coming

The Man
His wife
At the prow
Of mighty Tainui
Agony drew me to my feet
To fall again
And round me
Odd black shapes
Bent in unison
And from their lips
The death-wail
I bite my lips
To force the cry back
Why should I
keen with these?
I know not
Yet death is here
The babe is dead
How cold to hold
How small
He does not weep
He lies
On my heart
He has left me
I would
But I cannot
Cold wind surged round me
Salt spray slashed my face
And I knew I had not eaten for days
Marama—white and aloof
She and Moana laughed
At we who toiled
To cross that heaving breast
Hau drove us on
Pitying us —
Yet we wanted
Not pity —
But food.
I am here
In this world
Haunt me not
The eyes
A sob — or a sigh
A new land
Of cloud
And my eyes
And my arms
In gratitude
And in anguish
He is so small
My son
For a new world
My Soul (To the oars)
Free (Pull)
The keening
The despair
The cold
I (Tahi)
We (Rua)
Am (Toro)
Are (Wha)
Here. (Hei)

Dinah Moengarangi Rawiri

From her elders, the writer heard the story of the coming of Tainui, of the death and the casting into the sea of the captain's son, as a sacrifice to the ocean-goddess, Moana, for bringing the canoe to a safe haven. There has always been doubt as to whether the child was alive or dead when he was cast into the sea. His sacrifice drove his mother mad.

The poem is the mother's, and the bracketed words are part of the chorus from the ghosts of the past. Though she thinks she is free, yet they haunt her, and their triumphant chorus calls in her ear to the very last.