Tā Toby Curtis leaves 'powerful' memoir

By Kelvin McDonald
Photo / File

In one of his final acts of service to Aotearoa, the late Tā Toby Curtis penned a memoir which was launched in Rotorua this evening.

In the book, he issues a powerful reminder that the work to build an equitable society in Aotearoa must continue.

“It is, from my perspective, the colonial shackles of governance that need to make way for the indigenous contribution to our way of life in Aotearoa.”

Completed in his final weeks, Tā Toby’s memoir: Toby Curtis — Unfinished Business: Ki Hea Āpōpō was launched with whānau, friends and close colleagues.

Photo / Supplied

Described in publicity material, as "an honest, first-hand exploration of Tā Toby’s decades of service to the country", he is said to mince no words about colonisation and the ways the state continues to fail Māori.

“With colonisation came an erosion of land, identity and resources. Once all those things have been removed from you, it is difficult to operate from a base of confidence or empowerment.

“One of the key issues that has acted as a barrier for Māori development has been that our entire state and system of government has been established on a Western philosophy. The Pākehā colonisers in Aotearoa had an automatic fallback position to the English language and other European philosophies.

“In my opinion, several generations later, the cultural beliefs of many are still inherently British. This view does not fit with our Māori world view, and we have spent countless hours justifying, explaining and proving that how we see the world is valid, meaningful, and works for us.”

Despite feeling his life’s work to be unfinished, Tā Toby remained hopeful for an equitable, inclusive Aotearoa.

“More recently, I have felt proud of what seems to be a more accepting attitude by many tauiwi to te ao Māori. I have already mentioned the pride and pleasure I feel in hearing newsreaders pronounce Māori place names or terms correctly, or when Pākehā support changes that benefit Māori.

“I feel there is much more work to be done and not enough time to do it, but I am very impressed by the proud and competent young Māori people who are coming through.”