Author(s): Mary McEwen
Jock McEwen, administrator, historian, linguist, composer and master carver, was a well-known figure in the Maori world and the wider Pacific for over half a century. Born in Cheltenham near Feilding in 1915 he was brought up with a strong Presbyterian work ethic, which he retained until his death in 2010. Jock came into early contact with the Maori community at Aorangi, where he learned to speak fluent te reo and developed interests in whakapapa (including his own) and tikanga Maori. With initial help from a relative, he developed his interest in Maori carving and its many regional variations. In the mid-1930s Jock commenced his public service career in the Native Department, which became Maori Affairs. He came into contact with Sir Apirana Ngata with whom he later visited Maori communities throughout New Zealand. Jock was a founder member of both Ng-ati Po-oneke Young Maori Club and later Maawai Hakona Maori Association. In 1953 he was appointed Resident Commissioner for Niue Island, followed later by appointments to head the Island Territories and Maori Affairs Departments. During this time Jock travelled widely throughout the Pacific. He visited the United Nations several times on decolonisation matters affecting New Zealand's Pacific territories, spoke at UN conferences in Brazil and Cameroon, and chaired a UN visiting mission to Papua-New Guinea. In retirement Jock gave 35 years of voluntary service to the community including helping to establish O-O rongomai Marae in Upper Hutt. He taught Maori carving to Maori trade trainees, inmates of Rimutaka prison and others, producing many of the carvings that adorn meeting houses including those at Pipitea and O-O rongomai maraes as well as other buildings. In Te Oka - Pakeha Kaumatua, author Mary McEwen, Jock's daughter-in-law, gives many insights into the complex nature of this man and his times. The book will appeal to all with an interest in the twentieth-century history of Maori development and the decolonisation of New Zealand's Pacific Island territories.
DR MARY McEWEN is a retired Wellington ecologist, married to Andrew McEwen, with two children and four grandchildren. Her first book, Charles Fleming - Environmental Patriot, a biography of her father, was published in 2005 and was a finalist in the 2006 Montana Book Awards. Mary then edited and published the diary Charles Fleming had kept during his year as a coast watcher in World War II on the subantarctic Auckland Islands. Between 2005 and 2010, Mary was involved in caring for her husband's parents in their final years. Following Jock McEwen's death and tangi at O-O rongomai Marae, Mary decided to write a biography of this very unusual, but remarkable, Pa-aakeh-aa.