Life-long work for Maori to ‘stand on their own feet’

Or­chardist writer Denise Landow in­ter­viewed Jim Gray shortly be­fore he passed away in late Au­gust. Jim was an ac­tive and vo­cal mem­ber of the NZ Ki­wifruit Grow­ers fo­rum and con­tin­u­ally took up the ban­ner to im­prove grower re­turns. At the time of his death

The Orchardist - - Obituary - By Denise Landow

Sit­ting down with Wahiao Jim Gray was highly en­ter­tain­ing, deeply in­ter­est­ing and 100% chal­leng­ing. He en­cour­aged any­one who cared to be open-minded, with a poin­ter into the fu­ture where bound­less op­por­tu­ni­ties lay ahead for those who have the guts to go for it.

This straight-shooting, ex­pe­ri­enced and self-taught stal­wart of the Maori trustee­ship world was hon­oured with a New Zealand Or­der of Merit for ser­vices to Maori and gover­nance in this year’s Queen’s Birth­day Hon­ours an­nounced in July.

In mid-Au­gust he and close fam­ily trav­elled to Auck­land’s Gov­ern­ment House to have the pres­ti­gious medal of­fi­cially be­stowed, and share the im­por­tant day with other re­cip­i­ents and VIPs.

It was a long, hard road, and at 84 years, you’d think that this for­mer farm boy from the Eastern Bay of Plenty would be tak­ing it easy. Not Jim - his mind was as mer­cu­rial as ever. Even in late Au­gust, he planned a train­ing day for emerg­ing trustees to teach about ethics, the fun­da­men­tals of good gover­nance, strate­gic think­ing and be­ing able to mon­i­tor one’s progress amongst oth­ers. He knew that even past his life­time, there would still be much to be done. His mis­sion was al­ways to prove that Maori could do it on their own – that they could

stand on their own feet.

OR­DER FROM CHAOS

Jim put it bluntly, “if they can’t, they will al­ways be seen as sec­ond-rate

ci­ti­zens”.

His tribal affiliations were Tainui,

Mataatua, and Te Arawa.

“I’m liv­ing in the Te Arawa dis­trict (Ro­torua) so much of my re­la­tion­ship is with Te Arawa at this stage.”

Jim was only one of two Maori boys that achieved school cer­tifi­cate at Whakatane High School in 1949. He later served 26 years as air­crew in the Royal New Zealand Air Force – see­ing ac­tive ser­vice in Viet­nam and the Malayan Emer­gency.

He crewed the last Sun­der­land air­craft in Fiji that pa­trolled the Pa­cific while await­ing the ar­rival of the re­place­ment air­craft, the P3 Orion.

“We were search­ing for Rus­sian sub­marines and shad­ow­ing their pres­ence in the Pa­cific at the time,” he re­mem­bered.

Armed Forces life pro­vided a rol­lick­ing good time, but Jim said he should have trained to be a lawyer be­cause his mind was nat­u­rally wired for the de­tail, wit and strat­egy of the le­gal sphere.

His forth­right and fu­ture-fo­cused views about Maori-owned land, and how his fel­low Maori per­ceived the land as re­source or trea­sure, had not won him many friends around the coun­try over the years.

But his real tal­ent was go­ing into trus­tee or­gan­i­sa­tions tee­ter­ing on the verge of chaos and bring­ing or­der to the

in­di­vid­u­als, and the frag­mented in­ter­ests to­gether, in or­der to progress for­ward and achieve last­ing re­sults.

“As a for­mer re­spected Maori Land Court judge once said, I put them on the straight and nar­row,” he laughed.

“It’s so easy for ev­ery­body to have their own opin­ion. Peo­ple start quar­relling and de­bat­ing the is­sues, and that’s where the ar­gu­ments and dis­putes start. Ques­tions such as where did the money go? Why did the money go?

“The main ef­fort for me is get­ting them all singing from the same song sheet. I get them think­ing of things such as ethics. This is a ma­jor one be­cause some think it’s smart to be a Maori and to try and beat the sys­tem, but they don’t re­alise the down­stream ef­fects. Ethics is all about mana, in­tegrity and lead­er­ship.

“Too many Maori to­day try to lead from the rear, as against tra­di­tion­ally, lead­ing from the front.”

RE­FUSAL TO SELL

His in­ter­est in sort­ing out trusts started about 1976.

That was the year that he was no­ti­fied by the Maori Af­fairs De­part­ment that a block of land was com­ing back to the own­ers due to ex­pi­ra­tion of a lease. The land is on the cor­ner of SH2 and Wil­sons Road North, near Maketu, in the Bay of Plenty. It is the Paen­gaora North B8 and B9 Ag­gre­gated Blocks, trading as Ahu Moana De­vel­op­ments. The oper­a­tion com­prises 18.3 canopy hectares of ki­wifruit and is free­hold.

Back then, Jim said a meet­ing was called in the Maori Land Court, and the Maori Af­fairs Ad­vi­sor stood up and told the gather­ing that the land was vir­tu­ally use­less and the best thing to do was to sell it.

About the same time, Jim’s cousin, Evan Gray, had re­cently been fly­ing, do­ing agri­cul­tural work in the United States. He had just re­turned to New Zealand with the idea of grow­ing blue­ber­ries, which he’d seen over there.

Jim, Evan Gray, and Jim’s brother, Peter, con­ducted pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tions. They stood up in the meet­ing and said that they weren’t pre­pared to sell be­cause many in­di­ca­tions were that the land was em­i­nently suited to blue­ber­ries.

“At that stage, the ad­vi­sor wrapped up his doc­u­ments, walked out and we never saw him again,” Jim said, break­ing into hearty laugh­ter at the mem­ory.

The two main driv­ing forces be­hind the or­chard were Jim and his brother Peter, who had been heav­ily in­volved in ki­wifruit. Peter did the or­chard de­vel­op­ment and Jim was re­spon­si­ble for the ad­min­is­tra­tion, com­pli­ance, fi­nan­cials, health and safety, and so on. Peter at the time owned the largest auto elec­tri­cal busi­ness in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. The two broth­ers worked as a team with the other four or five trustees.

“We ap­pointed trustees to do some­thing with the land, and the analysis was that ki­wifruit was a growth in­dus­try at that stage so we started de­vel­op­ing the land as a ki­wifruit or­chard.

“It wasn’t an easy block to de­velop. In drain­ing some the land, we found small car-sized tree stumps. There were in­cor­rect bound­aries and peo­ple who be­lieved that they had a bet­ter right than the trustees for the us­age thereof in grow­ing other ‘ques­tion­able’ crops.”

SMOKO TA­BLE DEAL

“One trus­tee, Buff Wil­liams, op­er­ated a dig­ger busi­ness so he had the job of dig­ging out the stumps and logs and stack­ing them. We had to burn them, but money was short.

“Other Maoris who were also de­vel­op­ing ki­wifruit or­chards at the time were cut­ting tea-tree and stick­ing it in the ground to act as an ini­tial wind break. I drove from Auck­land ev­ery week­end, pick­ing up my son in Hamil­ton; we would spend the week­end work­ing there, with the chil­dren plant­ing the shel­ter belts.

“We fi­nally got enough money to put down a con­crete floor for an im­ple­ment shed. That day was quite show­ery and our hands were bleed­ing be­cause of the sand we used with the ce­ment, so lit­er­ally our blood is in that block.”

An­other Maori block next door also was keen to get into ki­wifruit, but by that time loan monies were be­com­ing more dif­fi­cult to get, Jim re­mem­bered.

“So we sat down around the smoko room ta­ble with that block’s trustees and drew up our own joint ven­ture agree­ment - no lawyers or any­one else. Such were the other trustees that in re­al­ity the paper was su­per­flu­ous – our bond was in the hand­shake.

“They got the money and it was the last Maori Af­fairs loan made. It helped be­cause we knew the chair­man, Stan Keepa, who had con­fi­dence in what we were do­ing. The other trust paid us to do the con­tour­ing and de­vel­op­ment work and we pro­vided the cap­i­tal equip­ment, the man­age­ment and

“Bound­less op­por­tu­ni­ties lay ahead for those who have the guts to go for it.”

de­vel­op­ment ex­per­tise. Then even­tu­ally, we ag­gre­gated the two blocks so that they be­came one and we worked to­gether.

“We man­aged to progress through de­spite the scarcity of fund­ing un­til the or­chard be­came one of the bet­ter pro­duc­ing or­chards in that area, which it re­mains to this day.”

“That same trust is still man­ag­ing the busi­ness but un­for­tu­nately Peter has with­drawn to due health is­sues, so I’m still holding the mana of the block while we’re bring­ing on new young trustees, but I’m still holding the mana at this stage,” he said re­spect­fully.

HIS­TOR­I­CAL HAS-BEEN

Jim be­lieved it was time for Maori com­mer­cial in­ter­ests to leave the trust struc­ture be­hind as a his­tor­i­cal has-been, and to fully em­brace the company struc­ture as a daily op­er­a­tional frame­work.

“We are far bet­ter off form­ing com­pa­nies with proper share­hold­ings. We can ex­change con­sol­i­dated shares which is what you nor­mally do in a company sit­u­a­tion. The rea­son I say that is we are get­ting too many sit­u­a­tions where land frag­men­ta­tion is tak­ing place.”

Maori land is in one hell of a mess to­day be­cause of frag­men­ta­tion and whanau trusts don’t re­ally re­solve the prob­lems, he said bluntly.

Land was some­times di­vided into un­eco­nomic lot sizes and the idea was that peo­ple got a share of the to­tal land in­ter­ests but the rest of it is not be­ing used – it just sits there, he said.

“I re­ally won­der when we are go­ing to move on. In other words, bring some sem­blance of di­rec­tion about it. Maori of­ten cite the rea­son not to change is ‘to pro­tect our taonga’ – I say, what does that mean?” Unashamedly, Jim’s ef­forts had not re­sulted in the sea-change he’d hoped for.

“That’s where I’ve failed to make the grade in many cases, be­cause I’ve al­ways be­lieved that Maori needed to stand on their own feet, to make their own de­ci­sions, and that they could do bet­ter than non-Maori.”

He cited an ex­am­ple that hap­pened to his wife, Kath­leen. One of her direct an­ces­tors had more than 120 land in­ter­ests. When Jim did the suc­ces­sion re­search and brought it down five gen­er­a­tions, her share wasn’t worth wor­ry­ing about.

“It was so small and in­signif­i­cant - I tossed it all in the rub­bish bas­ket and said, ‘for­get it’.”

“This has hap­pened with an­other one that we’ve struck. In fact we’ve just pulled out of it be­cause it’s not worth the trou­ble, the ar­gu­ments, the time, to try to jus­tify a de­vel­op­ment plan - it’s sim­ply not worth the ef­fort be­cause there is no re­turn or in­cen­tive to the in­di­vid­ual.”

One can only imag­ine just how of­ten such sce­nar­ios are cur­rently repli­cated through­out the coun­try, not to men­tion in for­mer decades.

Jim said Maori should be able to con­sol­i­date their shares, one way or an­other, so that they’ve got enough land to build a house on, but it was not hap­pen­ing.

NEVER RE­ALISED

And there was also the mat­ter of the tax con­ces­sions that were put in place be­cause of the trickle-down ef­fect to ben­e­fi­cia­ries – in ef­fect, the ben­e­fits have never been re­alised, and this needs to be ad­dressed, he ex­plained.

“With the way Maori land is legally han­dled now, it just sits there ad in­fini­tum and gives more grist to the many who be­lieve that Maoris don’t get off their back­sides to do any­thing with their land.”

So what’s wrong with a trust in this day and age?

“A trust is prob­a­bly built on his­tor­i­cal foun­da­tions. You’re en­trust­ing your land to a per­son to do some­thing with it. The only peo­ple that are mak­ing money out of these things are peo­ple like my­self, con­sul­tants and ac­coun­tants.

“The own­ers are lucky if they get a kau­matua grant - they’ll never get div­i­dends. If they’re lucky and on the in­ner cir­cle they may get an ed­u­ca­tion grant, but they’ve got to be on the in­ner cir­cle in many cases. So there’s all that to con­tend with, and this is not re­ally help­ing.”

He felt that trusts in many sit­u­a­tions to­day had be­come an ex­ten­sion of the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment.

LAND IS NOT THE AN­SWER

Jim also felt strongly that it was time to get real, do some fact-find­ing and shine a clear light on the whole ques­tion of Maori land us­age and po­ten­tial in New Zealand.

“There’s been much cry about un­de­vel­oped Maori land. That’s an in­ter­est­ing sub­ject be­cause fun­da­men­tally no one knows how much of that land is moun­tain tops, ravines, streams, lake beds and other land that you can’t use.

“How much out of that to­tal is po­ten­tially pro­duc­tive? No­body knows or is pre­pared to make a com­mit­ment about. And I think one of the things Maori have to ac­cept is the fact that land is not the an­swer to all of our prob­lems.”

Jim was adamant that land was only a step­ping stone to the fu­ture.

He said gen­er­ally re­gard­ing land, Maori were still liv­ing with out-dated sen­ti­ments.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing be­cause we are still re­ly­ing on that whole land is­sue as be­ing the an­swer to all of our prob­lems. The is­sue needs to be re-thought if it’s go­ing to give an­swers, but you can’t rely on the fact that land has the an­swers – the an­swers have to be found.”

“But look at what hap­pens, as soon as you throw the word ‘land – our sa­cred toanga’, ev­ery­body backs off – in­stead of pur­su­ing it and, say­ing, please ex­plain – what do you re­ally mean by that?”

“Maori have to con­sider mov­ing on, be­cause that’s a phase that West­ern so­ci­ety went through as well. The world has been through the agri­cul­tural age, and the in­dus­trial age. We’re cur­rently in the tech­no­log­i­cal age but swiftly mov­ing into the space age. That’s where we are, we (global hu­man­ity) has moved on. “Sure, land serves a pur­pose just like ev­ery­thing else. Sure it pro­vides kai, sure it pro­vides his­tory, but it’s not the an­swer to all of our prob­lems.”

FUR­THER IN­VEST­MENTS

Ahu Moana De­vel­op­ments is look­ing for fur­ther in­vest­ments, but whether or not those spec­u­la­tions will be more ki­wifruit is ques­tion­able, Jim ad­mit­ted.

“And the rea­son I say that is be­cause amongst all this ef­fort about ki­wifruit, you hear very lit­tle dis­cus­sion in re­gards to cli­mate change. In the year 2050 it is es­ti­mated that the Ran­gi­taiki Plains will be un­der wa­ter.

“So do we sell and shift to higher ground now or do we leave the prob­lem for the next lot of trustees?”

A big con­cern for Jim was the fact that ki­wifruit roots go down roughly 10m. His re­search showed that if the world tem­per­a­ture rises 1.5 de­grees, then much low-ly­ing land would be un­der wa­ter. The ques­tion he felt needed to be asked was: how are we go­ing to en­sure new or­chards are not go­ing to be caught out in two decades’ time?

“In one of our blocks at Paen­garoa, we’ve dug a post-hole, and you can ac­tu­ally see the wa­ter level rise and fall with the tide – and we’re about 1.5km off the coast.

“It’s amaz­ing the fact that no­body is rais­ing this is­sue - so that it can be planned as to whether you should shift back or do some­thing else. Or are you go­ing to blindly plant many hectares of ki­wifruit and won­der why they’re dy­ing be­cause of root rot?”

MAORI FO­RUM CAU­TION

Jim had con­cerns about the Maori Ki­wifruit Grow­ers Fo­rum.

“You have to wish them the best of luck in terms of their progress, but one of the things they need to be wary about is the de­ter­mi­na­tion of their Ran­gati­ratanga and their rights, that they don’t get in­volved in ex­port­ing par­al­lel to Ze­spri.

“Be­cause the mem­bers are ex­press­ing a strong de­sire to im­prove and run on their own. That’s fine in the­ory but there has to be some de­gree of cau­tion be­cause if this were to hap­pen it could pos­si­bly be looked upon as a breach of the sin­gle desk, where you have two ef­forts op­er­at­ing and sell­ing of their own ac­cord. This would also pro­vide grist for the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

BEAT­ING THE DRUM

Old thought habits die hard within cul­tures.

“It suits many, even in this day and age, to beat the drum of the old view that Maori are not do­ing any­thing with their land, and it’s all their fault,” de­clared Jim.

“But no­body has gone to that de­gree of car­ry­ing out an analysis to see what land is us­able and what isn’t be­cause it suits peo­ple in the po­lit­i­cal arena to be able to say ‘Maori are not do­ing any­thing’.”

The new Whenua fund­ing model for Maori was also “quite in­ter­est­ing”, he said.

He saw a lack of prac­ti­cal peo­ple in in­flu­en­tial po­si­tions, those who haven’t had a life­time of get­ting their gum­boots dirty. They were short of a real un­der­stand­ing of the prac­ti­cal needs of hor­ti­cul­tural and other land de­vel­op­ment.

“The old Maori Ad­vi­sory Board was ex­cel­lent be­cause it con­sisted of peo­ple who had walked the talk, and proven what they had to do. To­day we have a whole lot of aca­demics who want to take off, and tell you how to do it, but have never walked the talk – never got their gum­boots dirty – and if they have, it’s been in a very limited fash­ion.

“I guess that’s evo­lu­tion and nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion, but it does make it dif­fi­cult. But once again, I think be­fore we get taken to task about not us­ing this so-called un­de­vel­oped land, we need to de­ter­mine what is ac­tu­ally be­ing talked about, and iden­tify what land can be used ver­sus what can’t. But no­body wants to hear that ar­gu­ment at the mo­ment.”

FOR­EVER THE FU­TUR­IST

Jim de­scribed him­self as a fu­tur­ist.

“I’ve al­ways been like that, and a ve­ra­cious reader – you have to be­cause oth­er­wise how do you keep up?”

He and wife, Kath­leen, were bring­ing up their nine-yearold great grand­son. Jim could clearly see the young­ster’s per­cep­tion of the world. You’d think he’d come out with some­thing like, ‘it was so much bet­ter in my younger days’.

Not so, but he did ob­serve that this pre-teen was nav­i­gat­ing cur­rent time and space in an en­vi­ron­ment com­pletely dif­fer­ent from Jim’s child­hood. The oc­to­ge­nar­ian ob­served clearly that this child’s real worlds, and on­line worlds, were con­stantly merg­ing into a mixed re­al­ity.

COM­FORT ZONE NZ

“I watch our nine-year-old on the com­puter – he’s not too sure what

world he’s in.”

Jim was a be­liever in keep­ing pace with the times. His fu­tur­is­tic view was that the peo­ple pulling the po­lit­i­cal strings of the hu­man race had a def­i­nite plan un­der­way.

“If you care to watch TV – there’s no ques­tion in my mind that we are be­ing groomed for space ex­plo­ration.”

He cited re­cent ex­per­i­ments where sci­en­tists have started to de­fine veg­eta­bles that would grow in space­ships.

“It be­comes ob­vi­ous that ei­ther there’s a recog­ni­tion that cli­mate change is even­tu­ally go­ing to de­feat this planet, or take it over, so if I had any spare money I would be spread­ing my risk and look­ing very much to­ward fu­tur­is­tic de­vel­op­ments – even ex­plor­ing in­vest­ments in­volved in the space age.”

“It’s all a new world and if we don’t move with it, we’ll get left be­hind. The trou­ble is we are in a com­fort zone in New Zealand. We are suf­fi­ciently re­mote ge­o­graph­i­cally, and quite of­ten we are re­mote in terms of what’s hap­pen­ing in the rest of the world.”

Jim said that with Maori own­ing rights to geo­ther­mal en­ergy, they should be pre­par­ing now and get­ting into the mix of ser­vice providers with the new gen­er­a­tion of electric ve­hi­cles, and the demise of fos­sil fuel, com­ing into our lives in the not so dis­tant fu­ture.

Again, not want­ing to knock Maori, but make a cul­tural ob­ser­va­tion, Jim said that Maori were not strong in their longterm vi­sion.

“To my mind Maori have a ten­dency to look short-term; they op­er­ate out of what’s hap­pen­ing to­day. They don’t take the long-term very se­ri­ously and con­se­quently they’re al­ways chas­ing be­hind.”

Do you know what that is? I ask, riv­eted to hear the an­swer.

“Yes, be­cause tra­di­tion­ally Maori had to live from year to year. Maori would have been the great­est na­tion in the world had they dis­cov­ered min­er­als; iron and steel, and the like.

“They were pre­pared to sail, down the South Pole in open ca­noes, but you could imag­ine where they could have gone had they had nails to hold their boats to­gether.

“And con­se­quently they were de­pen­dent upon a day to day, year to year cy­cle. That’s why Matariki is so well cel­e­brated be­cause it’s a time of yearly cy­cle which in­di­cates it’s time to put away the ta­iaha and to get out the hoe.”

THE CHAL­LENGE OF BAT­TLE

Jim was truly a one of a kind. Work life had been a se­ries of long, tough, po­lit­i­cal bat­tles. Not ev­ery­body was, even to­day, will­ing to lis­ten.

“I haven’t helped my­self I must ad­mit,” he said squarely.

“I’ve been on big trusts where I’ve started to give them a pretty hard time, a fu­ture vi­sion, and all I got was a very abu­sive four-letter word re­sponse.”

So, why did you carry the cause all your life, Jim?

“I be­came to­tally in­volved in this lot be­cause of the chal­lenge – I want to make it work for Maori,” he said qui­etly.

“My strug­gle was to make sure that Maori are ca­pa­ble of do­ing it on their own. And it’s got to the stage that I have ex­per­tise in that area which may not ap­ply else­where.”

He tried to get his fel­low Maori to look be­yond the veil, see they are in a com­fort zone but of­ten, they don’t want to change, he said.

HARD DE­CI­SIONS

Jim’s re­flec­tions about the cur­rent state of af­fairs on trustee­ship around the coun­try were mixed.

“I think ba­si­cally it comes back to lead­er­ship. And many Maori are not tak­ing up lead­er­ship po­si­tions be­cause it means they have to make the hard de­ci­sions.

“To my mind, it al­most be­comes a façade, as to who is ac­tu­ally lead­ing. I find it is the ac­coun­tants be­hind the scenes pulling the strings, who are cur­rently pro­vid­ing the lead­er­ship.”

How about the young ones com­ing through? I asked.

“It is quite ap­par­ent that a num­ber of our young fe­males, to put it bluntly, have had a guts full of the pro­cras­ti­na­tion of the males, and all the rest of it. They’re com­ing out very ag­gres­sively and ei­ther you can get into the bat­tle or you can stand back and watch. And fun­nily enough, many of the males are ab­di­cat­ing be­cause they don’t have the abil­ity them­selves,” he ob­served.

“What is quite in­trigu­ing about the ag­gres­sive­ness com­ing out with young women is that they are ed­u­cated, and go very well in that arena - but what is lack­ing is ex­pe­ri­ence – the peo­ple with dirty gum­boots who can walk the talk.”

CA­REER HIGH­LIGHTS

Jim said a ca­reer high­light was writ­ing his book on the sub­ject An in­tro­duc­tion of the Gover­nance of Maori Au­thor­i­ties, run­ning the train­ing mod­ules from North­land to Welling­ton, and lec­tur­ing to groups of 40-60 peo­ple ev­ery ses­sion.

He put to­gether a $135 mil­lion geo­ther­mal power project, which af­ter 15 years would have been a 100% Maori owned oper­a­tion, con­firm­ing his orig­i­nal as­pi­ra­tions which went a long way to prov­ing that Maori could do it.

“Un­for­tu­nately I be­came no longer in­volved and it got caught up in a ma­jor dispute. At this stage ev­ery­thing is on hold,” he ex­plained.

“What’s miss­ing to­day in many cases is that many peo­ple in charge of gover­nance are not singing from the same song sheet. In many cases, fa­cil­i­ta­tors are not strong or ex­pe­ri­enced enough to say, ‘this is how it should go’. How do I know?

Be­cause I’ve walked the talk.”

“Ex­pe­ri­ence in gover­nance needs to be prac­ti­cal. If it’s all aca­demic, trustees get thrown a ques­tion out of left field and they don’t know how to an­swer it. They an­swer it aca­dem­i­cally, when in re­al­ity it needs a prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion.”

PEER RE­VIEW

In a 1999 de­ci­sion by Maori Land Court deputy chief Judge, NF Smith, the judge made spe­cial note of Jim’s con­tri­bu­tion. He wrote:

“Mr Gray has been a stal­wart. I’m wait­ing for the day they’re go­ing to ap­point him a judge for the rapid move he’s mak­ing in ser­vice to Maori peo­ple con­duct­ing trust meet­ings and hui. You have been most help­ful for the Court. We have trusts through­out the coun­try that have been put on the straight and nar­row af­ter a visit from your­self, and I must say that we in the court speak very highly of you and ap­pre­ci­ate the work that you’re do­ing there.”

Jim said with a know­ing smile and cheeky glint in his eye, “they never did get around to ap­point­ing me”.

But he had a pres­ti­gious hon­our that was cel­e­brated by him­self, his fam­ily and all of Maoridom to whom he de­voted his whole life to re­al­is­ing their un­tapped po­ten­tial.

“Those are just my thoughts,” he said like a truly dig­ni­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced states­man, but he left the ses­sion with one final wrap up state­ment, in a good hu­moured roar he said:

“It is bloody hard work be­ing a Maori be­cause not only have you got your own cul­ture to con­tend with, you’ve also got some­body else’s as well and quite of­ten the two do not mix.”

Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral Dame Patsy Reddy pre­sented Jim Gray with a New Zealand Or­der of Merit for Ser­vices to Maori and Gover­nance.

Jim Gray with great-grand­son Kae­den Mar­shall.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.