Haare Williams book, "Wisdom of a Māori elder of the old school" says Witi Ihimaera

By Mahina Hurkmans

Today was the launch of Dr Haare Williams' book Words of a Kaumātua. The book reflects on his journey from te ao Māori on the East Coast to contemporary Auckland.

"Haare Williams grew up with his Tūhoe grandparents on the shores of Ōhiwa Harbour in a te reo world of Tāne and Tangaroa, Te Kooti and the old testament, of Nani Wai and curried cockle stew – a world that Haare left behind when he learnt English at school and moved to Auckland," an Auckland University Press media release says.

Edited and Introduced by Witi Ihimaera, Words of a Kaumātua tells Dr Williams' story through poems and kōrero, in both English and te reo Māori.

"In this collection, we are privileged to obtain the wisdom of a Māori elder of the old school. And how fortunate we are to hear his songs in a life where, like the kōpara, he too has often had to beat against the storm," Ihimaera says in the introduction to the book.

The book captures Dr Williams' observations and direct experience of the Māori arts movement, waves of protest and the rise of Māori broadcasting over the last half-century.

Dr Williams was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2018 for services to Māori, the arts and education.

He has been Dean of Māori Education at Unitec and was general manager of Aotearoa Radio, setting up a joint venture with South Seas Film and Television School to train te reo speakers as producers and operators in film and television.

Dr Williams has also worked closely with iwi claimant communities and was responsible for waka construction and assembly at Waitangi for the 1990 commemorations as executive director of the 1990 Commission.

He has published poetry, exhibited paintings, and written for film and television. He was a cultural advisor for mayors of Auckland, a senior vice president of the Labour Party, and is amorangi at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.