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Ngai Tahu mourns loss of claims researcher

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/05/2017

The death of Trevor Howse has been described as a sad day for Ngai Tahu, whose future he helped secure.

The lead researcher of the South Island iwi's Treaty of Waitangi claims from the 1980s right through to the passage of the Ngai Tahu Settlement Act in 1998, Mr Howse collated much of the information presented to the Waitangi Tribunal.

In an interview published on the iwi's website in 2014, Mr Howse described himself as a "Mr Fixit", who knew where to look for information or paperwork during the claim process.

Sometimes it took him weeks to find something he needed, but he always got it, he said.

Born in Kaikoura and schooled in Rangiora, he was a shearer, worked in freezing works, drove trucks and then became a transport manager for LD Nathan and Sons before Ngai Tahu Treaty claim work took up a lot of his time.

He once spoke of burning out two photocopiers in preparing evidence.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox says Mr Howse's discipline and belief in the claim drove him on.

"As the lead researcher, Trevor exerted relentless energy in exploring the national archives at the Alexander Turnbull Library, wading through volumes of departmental papers and searching our original sources to lay the foundation for the claim," she said.

"He later carried that same spirit of endeavour to the Cultural Mapping Project [recording sites of significance] that has been so vital in distinguishing Ngai Tahu identity."

Mr Howse was known as the "Great Weka" because of his feisty and curious personality.

He died on May 12 with his family in attendance and was to be farewelled at a service at Tuahiwi Marae near Rangiora on Tuesday.

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