Last month members of the Ngati Kauwhata and Rangitane tribes gathered on the Aorangi marae, Feilding, to welcome sons who have had high honours conferred on them.
The first to be received was Lieutenant-Colonel B. Poananga, who, after a distinguished career in the army, has now left to be High Commissioner of New Guinea.
The elders of the tribe congratulated Lt-Col Poananga on his new appointment.
The next weekend a gathering on the marae honoured Mr Edward Taihakurei Durie, who has been appointed a district judge of the Maori Land Court in New Zealand (and the first Maori to hold such a position).
His appointment was announced earlier in the month by the Minister of Maori Affairs, Mr Rata.
Mr Durie is a grandson of the late Mr Mason Durie, a widely respected elder of the Ngati Kauwhata and Rangitane tribes and a son of Mr and Mrs E.M. Durie of Feilding. He was a partner in the Tauranga law firm of Murray, Dillon, Gooch and Durie and was not often able to return to Feilding. However, his family are still based in the area.
He and his wife were given a Maori welcome at the marae on their arrival.
He was born in Gisborne in 1940, the youngest of three brothers. His brother Mason is a psychiatrist at Palmerston North hospital, and an older brother Ra lives in Fielding and works with an agricultural contractor.
Mr Edward Durie received his early education in Feilding, and was later sent to Te Aute College, in Hawke's Bay. In 1958, he went to Victoria University, graduating BA, LLB in 1966.
Mr Durie was employed by Wellington legal firms from 1961 to 1969, during which time he met his wife, Ani, who was working for another legal firm. She is a daughter of Mr Kuru Waaka, the director of the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute at Rotorua.
They were married in Rotorua in 1969, and soon after moved to Tauranga where Mr Durie joined his present firm. Since then, he has been involved in establishing Maori land trusts, and his new appointment comes from this work.
He says Tauranga is surrounded by Maori land, and any expansion of the town involves this land.
He is pleased with his appointment “because I now have the opportunity to do something I am really interested in, and can specialise at it.”
He is the first Maori to be appointed a district judge of the Maori Land Court since the Court was established in 1862. His wife is a secretary in a computer firm.
While he was at Victoria University, Mr Durie was president of the New Zealand Federation of Maori Students. In 1967 he represented the National Council of Churches at a conference in Singapore.
He has been a member of the Anglican Provincial Committee for Church Union.
S. A. Stewart