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Creative New Zealand Farewell Master Weaver Saana Murray

6 Sep 2011

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Creative New Zealand respectfully farewells Ngāti Kurī leader and tohunga weaver Saana Murray, who passed away this weekend.

Kia oha ake te ringa ki te wāhi ngaro. O tātou mate kua taupae rā ki tua o te wharau. Te kīkī ā manu, i tēnei rā kua ngaro atu i te kitenga ā kanohi. Ko te mamae ia ka kai ki te kiri. Kia kapo ake ko te maumahara. Ko koe tērā e te morehu kuia e Saana kua riro atu rā koe e te ringa kaha o aitua. Kei te hahae te tau o te ate. Kei te mōteatea ngā mahara mō koe kua rere rā ki te kāhui rangatira, te kahui o Matariki.Nā reira moe mai rā.

Creative New Zealand respectfully farewells Ngāti Kurī leader and tohunga weaver Saana Murray, who passed away this weekend.

In 1998 Mrs Murray was appointed as a member of the New Zealand Arts Council, which monitors the overall performance of Creative New Zealand and the funding bodies; the Arts Board, Pacific Arts Committee,  and Te Waka Toi - the Māori Arts Board.

“Saana brought with her a deep knowledge of Māori arts, particularly weaving.  This expertise combined with an unflappable commitment to protecting tāonga Māori made her a treasured artist and invaluable member of the Arts Council” says Creative New Zealand Chief Executive, Stephen Wainwright.

Mrs Murray was part of the group that in 1991 lodged the WAI 262 Claim with the Waitangi Tribunal.  Known as the Native Flora and Fauna Claim, it addresses issues of protecting Māori cultural and intellectual property rights, as well as other matters.

The group’s protests over access to land and coastlines emerged 20 years before the claim was lodged.  Mrs Murray’s particular concerns included access to native flora and fauna in the Far North. She battled against restrictions on the harvesting of pingao, kiekie, hoihere, raupo and kakaho explaining that restricting access to these resources, jeopardised the survival of Māori arts, crafts and sciences.   

When the Waitangi Tribunal produced its final report at Roma Marae, Ahipara in July this year Mrs Murray was the only surviving claimant. 

 “Saana’s passing is particularly poignant as we have recently held the annual Te Waka Toi awards. The awards are about celebrating artists who have generously shared their expertise, knowledge and time to ensure that Māori arts will be retained and go on to flourish. Her valuable contributions will be missed.” Mr Wainwright said.