Today I attended the funeral service at the Waikumete Cemetery to honour the life of Marti Friedlander. It was a simple service held in a small wood-lined chapel shaped like a Star of David in the Jewish section of the vast graveyard.
The wind swirled outside as we listened to the rabbi reciting the Hebrew prayers and blessings, and to the eulogy by Leonard Bell, art historian, gallery curator, author and good friend of Marti Friedlander, such an intelligent mapping of her life path and career highlights, full of heart and warmth and made very poignant by quotations from a letter written by Marti’s 90 year old sister who lives in London. It was Anne who had been a comforting presence in Marti’s life, from the time they arrived in London, frightened little orphans from the war in Poland, and through the years they spent at the orphanage and right up until and beyond the moment that Marti met her future husband Gerrard Friedlander and emigrated to New Zealand.
Dr Merimeri Penfold, Ngati Kuri, born in 1920 in Te Hãpua, an isolated Mãori community in the far north of New Zealand, near Cape Reinga, has died. Merimeri Penfold, Whãea of the University of Auckland, very first university teacher of the Mãori language in New Zealand from 1964, dominion vice president and inaugural member of the Mãori Women’s Welfare League, one of New Zealand's finest translators and a contributor to the seventh edition of the definitive Williams dictionary of Mãori language, translator of nine Shakespearean love sonnets, Ngã Waiata Aroha Love Sonnets (2000), co-editor of The Book of New Zealand Women: Ko Kui Ma Te Kaupapa (1993), co-author of Women in the Arts in New Zealand (1986) first woman to write a haka and perform it in protest over the All Black tour of South Africa in 1976, campaigner for a marae on the University of Auckland campus for which she received an honorary doctorate in 2000, a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to Maori in 2001, Human Rights Commissioner 2002 - 2007, a loved mother, grandmother, sister and friend has passed on. New Zealand has lost a wahine toa.
Darling Margaret Mahy, the gifted author has died. The literary community, her global fans and followers and the people of New Zealand mourn her loss. The world suddenly seems less, with the passing of a great writer.
I was writing the Epilogue to a current book in progress when my phone flashed a message. It was my daughter texting to tell me she had seen on the Herald website that Margaret Mahy passed away today, Monday 23 July at the age of 76 after a brief illness. Cleo wrote, ‘She was an inspiration. I am glad you got to tell her story.’