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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 16:33 GMT
New Zealand Maori poet dies at 86
Hone Tuwhare (November 1998)
Mr Tuwhare was passionate about Maori issues
Hone Tuwhare, one of New Zealand's most celebrated writers and the first Maori poet to be published in English, has died at the age of 86.

Mr Tuwhare won several literary awards and also became involved in campaigning for the recognition of Maori culture.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said his contribution to New Zealand literature had been "outstanding".

Mr Tuwhare had been in poor health for some time. The cause of his death was not immediately known.

He was born into the Nga Puhi Maori tribe in Kaikohe in the north of New Zealand and spoke only the Maori language until he was nine.

His work draws heavily on Mr Tuwhare's cultural ancestry and has been praised for its diversity and richness as well as its accessibility.

Mr Tuwhare was also actively involved in promoting and protecting Maori rights and culture.

Powerful imagery

Mr Tuwhare's first published collection of poems No Ordinary Sun - a response to the dropping of an atomic bomb on Japan in 1945 - was released in 1964 and then in 10 further editions over the next 30 years.

His poetry contained powerful imagery of our land, sea and legends
Prime Minister Helen Clark

No Ordinary Sun was also the first book of Maori poetry to be published in English and became one of the most widely-read individual collections in New Zealand.

He was appointed New Zealand's second Te Mata Poet Laureate in 1999 and was given the 2003 Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement.

Politicians and cultural figures have been paying tribute since his death on Wednesday.

"Hone Tuwhare was a distinguished poet, playwright, and writer of short fiction," said Ms Clark in a statement.

"His poetry contained powerful imagery of our land, sea and legends, and often expressed strong views on contemporary issues."

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