David Slack


Walking the talk

Tā Mark Solomon is not the kind of man who speaks at length about himself. He values his privacy and he’s prone to under-playing any suggestion that he’s made a significant contribution to Māoridom, to Ngāi Tahu.
The fact that he was knighted in 2013 in recognition of the work he has done for Ngāi Tahu and for Māoridom is a case in point. His initial reaction was to baulk at the honour, but there were those who told him to “pull his head in,” that it wasn’t just for him, it was for the tribe. He relates how he was told firmly to “get up there to Wellington and receive the honour on behalf of the tribe.”

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The first language of Te Waipounamu

Rock art is one of the oldest and most significant of the traditional arts, and considered by some an early form of written language: meaningful marks left for others to read. Some of those marks offer a glimpse of the world in the time of moa and pouākai (Haast’s eagle). Earlier that morning I’d witnessed a drawing of the giant eagle soaring across a cave roof at Frenchman’s Gully. In this landscape of hawks and falcons, it’s easy to imagine the artist looking up to see that vast shadow pass above.

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