December 9, 2009

NEW ZEALAND: Author in 'serious' condition

. AUCKLAND, North Island / Central Leader / December 9, 2009 By Carly Tawhiao - Central Leader Author and historian Dame Judith Binney, renowned for uncovering some of New Zealand’s most horrific tales, has become involved in her own. Family and friends are praying for the Mt Eden resident’s recovery after she was hit by a truck on Princes St in the city on Friday while on her way to an Auckland University Press function. The 69-year-old’s condition at Auckland Hospital remains serious but stable after she suffered major head injuries in the accident. TRAGIC ACCIDENT: Dame Judith Binney is in a serious but stable condition at Auckland Hospital after being hit by a truck just days after the launch of her latest book Encircled Lands: Te Urewera, 1820 – 1921. Photo: Jason Oxenham Dame Judith had spent the week launching her latest book Encircled Lands: Te Urewera, 1820 – 1921. It is a documented account of how fraud and force chipped away the Tuhoe tribe’s self-governing territory of the Ureweras more than 130 years ago. During an interview with the Central Leader at her home last Wednesday, Dame Judith relayed the grand reception she received during the blessing of her book at Waikirikiri Marae in Ruatoki. What started as a small event turned into a huge affair well-received by the Tuhoe people, who honoured the author by bestowing her with a Maori name, Tomairangi o te Aroha, and presenting her with an adze. Encircled Lands expands on a Waitangi Tribunal report she was commissioned to research and write in 2002. However it had to be put on hold for two years while Dame Judith was diagnosed, treated and recovered from breast cancer. “I always intended to come back to it. I wanted to get it out there for Tuhoe and the community at large,” she said. “It has brought me a very great deal of satisfaction. Anyone who has any interest in a buried past would appreciate this book. It is a horrific story. The brutality involved related to the fear that was largely in the minds of those that looked in from the outside – which is still happening today. “Although it was very well documented it was hard to find. “But I did find it and it deserves to be read and it deserves to be known.” The retired Auckland University history professor and former editor of the New Zealand Journal of History has always been interested in “odd-ball people who are willing to stand outside the received frame of society”. Relationships between Maori and Pakeha provide many examples of this, which is why it is a common theme in her writing, she said. With her latest offering, there are lot of people who worked on the book to whom she was grateful, including her “supportive husband” Sebastian Black. Ad Feedback Mr Black says since the accident, he is primarily concerned with informing friends and family about his wife’s condition and is thankful for all the support he has received. Of the blessing, he says although it was the fourth time they had been received on a marae, last week’s occasion was their most prestigious with generous acknowledgment received from Tuhoe elders such as Wharehuia Milroy. “He put her up there with Elsdon Best, for those who live now and are still to be born,” Mr Black says. “It was a grand event that meant a lot to us.” Dame Judith’s book Redemption Songs about Ringatu faith founder Te Kooti, won the Montana Book of the Year in 1996. She was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to historical research and was presented with the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Literary Achievement Award for Non-Fiction in 2006. This year she also received the Polynesian Society’s Elsdon Best Medal. [rc] © 2009 Fairfax New Zealand Limited