Tohu for Tane Mahuta protector

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Maori and arts service is what it says on Alex Nathan’s citation to become an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, but it is his work in the field of conservation that is a source of greater pride.

Maori and arts service is what it says on Alex Nathan’s citation to become an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, but it is his work in the field of conservation that is a source of greater pride.

Nathan chairs the Waipoua Forest Trust, the bicultural organization he formed in 1998 with his fellow environmentalist Stephen King to protect the home of Tane Mahuta and other Kauri giants.

So far, he has planted over 1.5 million trees on previously cleared land at the edge of the forest in an effort to restore the kauri ecosystem on a landscape scale.

The trust is set up so that if it is dissolved, the responsibility rests with Te Roroa, the northernmost small iwi of the Ngati Whatua confederacy, whose claims Nathan has taken to Waitangi Court and subsequently negotiated a regulation.

It took over a dozen years of his life, time for his other passion of making art, mainly jewelry and silver sculptures.

Together with a younger brother, the late clay artist Manos Nathan, he has run many programs in art, Maori culture, natural history and conservation at Matatina, the marae they built in the middle of the forest. , and has collaborated with Indigenous artists from around the world, including the United States. , Canada, Japan and various Pacific island countries.

Nathan was born in the north to Ned Nathan and his Cretan war bride Katana, but the family moved to the Wellington area in 1955.

When Ned and Katina retreated to Dargaville, Alex fell under the influence of the Anglican and Tohunga priest Maori Marsden, who urged him to step back to stand next to his father.

“When we came back, Alison and I and our three children (out of a possible seven) were living with Maori and Jane at Te Kopuru in the old hospital,” he says.

From his father and Marsden he learned a lot from the whakapapa and history which was so critical in pursuing the claim, which he took up when his father started to feel bad.

“Maarire Goodall, who was running the court administration at the time, told me I had to step up my efforts because if Ned died before the complaint was dealt with it could derail. “

The claim eventually became WAI 38, a minnow among some of the bigger claims surrounding it, but which gained attention due to the antics of Allan Titford, whose farm south of the forest included wahi tapu that the iwi had tried to exclude from the sale. .

Nathan says it’s a life full of things to do.

He says the inclusion in the New Years Honor Roll is so much for the iwi and his family who have supported him throughout the struggles.



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