Wiremu Kerekere introduces an interview by Selwyn Muru with Leo Fowler, recently retired broadcaster and writer.
His latest book about Te Mana o Tūranga meeting house at Manutuke is being launched next week. He recounts how he was welcomed to Gisborne and told that half the listeners to the local radio station were Māori but that programmes were not tailored towards Māori listeners.
He says he first became interested in te ao Māori as a boy around 1910, when he was a paper-boy selling the Auckland Star newspaper in Queen Street. There was a big Māori hostel nearby and he used to interact with Māori who would step in to help him when older boys chased him. His family then moved to Northland and he got to know more local Māori and in particular a chief Nepia Pomare who he used to stay with during school holidays.
He talks about the poor farming land the government was allocating to new settlers like his parents. His family unknowingly built their house on tapu land and to resolve the issue Leo was adopted by Nepia Pomare to remove the tapu. The chief also gave him a pekapeka, which his mother kept safe until he was an adult.
He talks about his new book, which is about the wharenui Te Mana o Tūranga on Whakato marae and its carvings. It is the result of 20 years research.