Arapeta Marukitepua Pitapita Nuiaarangi Awatere

Ngāti Porou

1910 - 1976



Arapeta Awatere was born at Tuparoa on the East Coast. He played an active leadership role in the New Zealand Māori Battalion during World War II and was appointed Commanding Officer of the Māori Battalion in 1944. For his wartime services he won the Military Cross, the Distinguished Service Order and was mentioned in Dispatches several times. After the war Awatere joined Māori Affairs and became a District Māori Welfare Officer in Auckland. Throughout his life he had a deep concern for the welfare of the Māori people. In 1959 he was elected to the Auckland City Council and became the first Māori to become an Auckland City Councillor. He produced a Māori translation of Colin Bell’s Why Birds Don’t Cry which was published by Caxton Press in 1960 and during his years in Mount Eden Prison he wrote many works on Māori themes including poetry and songs. At the time of his death in March 1976 an obituary stated: ‘Māori people mourned the loss of one of last great classical Māori language scholars.’

Biographical sources

  • New Quarterly Cave 1.2 (1976): 57.
  • Te Ao Hou 42 (1963): 7.

    Non-fiction

  • Māori Literature: He Tauparapara Mo Te Kawa o Te Whai Kōrero: Poetry that is recited and chanted. Wellington, N.Z.: Dept. of Anthropology, Victoria U of Wellington, N.Z.,
  • These are the accompanying notes and texts in Māori of ‘a series of ten tauparapara recorded on tape by Koro Dewes in Auckland, N.Z. in 1963. The tauparapara are chanted by Colonel Arapeta Awatere. A copy of the tape is lodged in the tape library of the Victoria University of Wellington Language Laboratory.’
  • Te Kawa o te Marae. Wellington, N.Z.: Dept. of Anthropology, Victoria U of Wellington, n.d. [1969?]
  • Co-authors Arapeta Awatere and Koro Dewes.
  • Awatere: A Soldier’s Story. Ed. Hinemoa Ruataupare Awatere. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia, 2003.
  • Contains autobiography, poetry, waiata and essays by Arapeta Awatere.
  • Other

  • Why Birds Don’t Cry: A Legend in the Māori Manner. Colin Kane Bell. Māori trans. Arapeta Awatere. Christchurch, N.Z.: Caxton Press, 1960.
  • Poetry

  • "Ngaa Hoa Kei Te Ngaro." In "Te Hokowhituaatuu Matauenga."[Te Hokowhitu-a-Tumatauenga] Te Ao Hou 28 (1959): 52.
  • Te Ao Hou notes that this Māori language poem is introduced in the traditional fashion by Awatere and is ‘the first Māori contribution printed, at the author’s request, with the double vowel.’
  • "He Reo Maaori Hou/ Modern Maaori Idiom." Writ. and trans. in Māori and English by Arapeta Awatere. New Quarterly Cave: An International Review of Arts and Ideas 1.2 (Old Series Cave 10) (Apr. 1976): 54.
  • The poet presents this poem in ‘modern Māori’ in order ‘to slake / the thirst’ of his generation.
  • "Te Mokopuna/ Little Stranger." Writ. in Māori with English trans. by Arapeta Awatere. New Quarterly Cave: An International Review of Arts and Ideas 1.2 (Old Series Cave 10) (Apr. 1976): 54-55.
  • In this poem akin to the oriori, or lullaby of the past, Awatere welcomes his grand-daughter, Hinemoa Ruataupare into ‘the World of Light’ and informs her of her tribal origins, waka and tupuna.
  • "He Raiona/Lion." Writ. in Māori with English trans. by Arapeta Awatere. New Quarterly Cave: An International Review of Arts and Ideas 1.2 (Old Series Cave 10) (Apr. 1976): 57.
  • This poem, dedicated to barrister and solicitor, Peter A. Williams, likens the counsel at the bar with the ‘Lion in the jungle / vigilant poised majestic / cunning prowling predator / serene in meditation / fierce in concentration’.
  • "Kepa Anaha Ehau." Writ. in Māori with English trans. by Arapeta Awatere. ibid. 56. Rpt. in Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z., Heinemann, 1982. 12-13. Rpt. as "He tangi mo Kepa Anaha Ehau/Lament for Kepa Ehau." The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse. Ed. Ian Wedde and Harvey McQueen. Auckland, N.Z.: Penguin, 1985. 194-196.
  • In this lament Awatere mourns the loss of Ngāti Tarawhai and Ngāti Whakaue rangātira Kepa Anaha Ehau who died in 1970 in his 85th year. [Ref. The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse. 1985: 539]
  • "Ka Huri/I Turn." English trans. by Miriama Evans. The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry/ Ngā Kupu T˚tohu o Aotearoa. Ed. Miriama Evans, Harvey McQueen and Ian Wedde. Auckland, N.Z.: Penguin Books, 1989. 35-37. Rpt. in Māori only in Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 1: Te Whakahuatanga O Te Ao: Reflections of Reality. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1992. 23-24.
  • The speaker reflects on the places where his tribal waka landed and sheltered. He greets Mount Taranaki and observes that the springs flowing from it have spread far and wide but still hold ‘fast to [their] special Māori mana.’
  • Reviews

  • Māori Poetry: The Singing Word, by Barry Mitcalfe. Journal of the Polynesian Society 84.4 (1975): 510-519.
  • Traditional

  • "A Haka to Honour Te Rangi Hiroa." Te Ao Hou 9 (1954): 15-16.
  • This haka was performed by the Oaonui and Coastal Young People’s Clubs at Waitara before Governor General, Sir Willoughby Norris in August 1954.

    Non-fiction

  • "Haka Party from Auckland, N.Z." Te Ao Hou 42 (1963): 7.
  • Includes a brief biography of Awatere.
  • Other

  • "Māori Warrior Dies In Jail." Dominion 8 Mar. 1976.
  • "One of the Great Māori Orators, Historians." Gisborne Herald 9 Mar. 1976.
  • An account of Awatere’s funeral.
  • Benton, Richard A. Materials For Teaching And Learning The Māori Language: A Bibliography Of Published Materials For Teaching Māori To Speakers Of Other Languages Compiled And Annotated By Richard A. Benton. Wellington, N.Z.: Māori Unit, New Zealand Council for Educational Research, 1979. 19.
  • Reviews

    Why Birds Don’t Cry
  • Why Birds Don’t Cry. B.M. Rev. of Stories of Old Samoa, by Fanaafi Ma’ia’i, and Why Birds Don’t Cry: A Legend in the Māori Manner, by Colin Kane Bell. Te Ao Hou 32 (1960): 51.