Raymond Ahipene-Mercer was born in Wellington and educated at Trentham Primary School and Upper Hutt College. For much of his working life Ahipene-Mercer has worked as a professional musician and luthier. He has also worked in the assembly-line production of various car factories, which proved a formative experience in his growing politicization. In 1981 he returned to New Zealand after many years living in Britain, and became very involved in the anti-Springbok Tour movement, which led to his association with the Wellington Waitangi Action Committee. In the late 1980s and early 1990s Ahipene-Mercer co-chaired the Wellington District Māori Council and in 1986 submitted the first claim to the Waitangi Tribunal from the Wellington district, Claim 28, concerning the pollution of traditional fishing grounds and a pa site. In 1998 he was presented with an award as Conservationist of the Year. In 2000 he was elected to the Wellington City Council and has subsequently been re-elected twice.
Ahipene-Mercer writes non-fiction articles on political and environmental issues and also writes for children. He states: ‘I continue to be involved in raising environmental awareness particularly with a Māori perspective with school groups and adults.’
- Correspondence, emails and phone conversation with Ray Ahipene-Mercer, 9 Nov.
1992, 19 Oct. 1995, 2 Nov. 1995, 11 July 1997 and 7 Sep 2006.
- Mana Tiriti: The Art of Protest and Partnership.
Wellington, N.Z.: Haeata Māori Women’s Art Collective, Project Waitangi, Wellington
City Art Gallery, Daphne Brasell, 1991. 36
- “MOA POINT: Te Take, Te Tiko, Te Taniwha.” Tu Tangata 30
(July 1986): 2-5.
- Te Ao Marama: Regaining Aotearoa: Māori Writers Speak Out.
Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D.
S. Long. Vol. 2: He Whakaatanga O Te Ao: The Reality. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 126.
- “Where My Ancestors Walked.” Photographs by Clare Bowes. School Journal 4.2 (1990): 2-7. Rpt. in Te Ao Mārama: Regaining
Aotearoa: Māori Writers Speak Out. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed.
Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 2: He Whakaatanga O Te Ao: The
Reality. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 126-128.
- In this first-person account Ahipene-Mercer writes of his tribal land in
Wellington and southern Wairarapa which was first inhabited by his Ngai Tara tupuna. He
comments on Māori place-names in the district and questions why the original Māori names
have sometimes been replaced with those of comparatively recent Pakeha settlers. He takes
issue with the incorrect spelling of Māori names such as Taraki Bay which should be Tarakena
Bay, and Warepori Street which should be spelt Whare Pouri Street. Ahipene-Mercer protests
against the flow of effluent into Wellington Harbour and the imposition of the Ataturk
monument on the site of Poito Pa and Rangitatau Pa, adjacent to Tarakena Bay, on
Wellington’s south coast.
- “Why Bother With The Past?” Mana Tiriti: The Art of Protest
and Partnership. Wellington, N.Z.: Haeata Māori Women’s Art Collective, Project
Waitangi, Wellington City Art Gallery, Daphne Brasell, 1991. 36-37.
- In this paper presented during the 1990 Mana Tiriti
Exhibition Ahipene-Mercer briefly discusses the early inhabitants of Te
Whanganui-a-Tara and the traditional Māori places names in the district. He writes of the
importance of knowing one’s history and observes that if Pakeha took the time to learn Māori
history and consult with local Māori the wahi tapu (sacred places) would not have been
defiled, conflicts could have been avoided and in a concerted understanding of history
Pakeha and Māori could have ‘a better chance of moving forward.’ Ahipene-Mercer asserts that
Māori place-names have an integral place in the oral culture of the Māori and argues for
their retention alongside the Pakeha names.
- “Māori Activist Returns To Instrument Making.” Dominion
11 Feb. 1991: 28.
- McLoughlin, David. “Guitar Man.” North and South Feb.
- “MOA POINT: Te Take, Te Tiko, Te Taniwha.” Tu Tangata
30 (July 1986): 2-5.
- This article chronicles the history of Ray Ahipene-Mercer’s fight to stop the
ongoing sewage outfall at Moa Point. He reports on a trip to Moa Point by seventy people in
March 1986 to examine the effects of the sewage outfall, and provides a tribal history of
the Wellington area and specifically Moa Point.