Tuaiwa Hautai "Eva" Rickard (née Kereopa, 19 April 1925 – 6 December 1997) rose to prominence as an activist for Māori land rights and for women’s rights within Māoridom. She was born in Raglan, also named Whāingaroa. Her methods included public civil disobedience and she is best known for leading the occupation of Raglan golf course in the 1970s.
Rickard was most notably regarded for her decade long, very public civil disobedience campaigns to have ancestral lands alongside Raglan harbour returned to the local tribes, and to have Māori mana and culture recognized. During the Second World War, the New Zealand Government took land from indigenous Māori owners by acquisition for the purpose of a military airfield. Instead of these being handed back to its former owners (the Tainui Awhiro peoples) when no longer required for defence purposes, part of the land, a 62-acre (250,000 m2) block was turned into a public Raglan golf course in 1969.
Throughout the 1970s Rickard tirelessly campaigned to raise public awareness about Māori land rights. After attempting to reoccupy this ancestral indigenous land in 1978 she was arrested for trespass along with another 19 Māori protesters, on the ninth hole of the Raglan golf course. This incident was captured by New Zealand television and was a defining moment in her public life. Their court appearance set off a chain of events which trailed through the courts amidst bitter argument at local and national level, but finally led to the return of the land. After the land was returned it became a focus for local job-training and employment programs, as well as a focus for the Māori sovereignty movement.
The Mana Māori Movement was the largest wholly Māori political party, founded by Rickard, and contested the New Zealand general election, 2002. Mana Māori incorporated the smaller Te Tawharau and Piri Wiri Tua parties. Rickard was originally a member of Mana Motuhake, another Māori party, but quit when Mana Motuhake joined the Alliance (a broad left-wing coalition).
Rickard was an ardent advocate for women’s rights within Māoridom itself and encouraged other female activists to ignore traditional Māori protocol by calling for the rights for Māori women to speak at official Māori gatherings, including on the Marae. At her official Tangi where she was interred on the land she had spent a decade fighting to have returned to her people, Māori activist Annette Sykes when attempting to speak, had to endure cries of "you sit down, you have no right to speak." Here Annette Sykes stood up and publicly challenged men to recognise the Mana of Māori women.
- Māori Party
- Angeline Greensill
- Māori protest movement
- Bastion Point
- Land rights
References and sources
- Obituary in New Zealand Herald of 9 December 1997 page A16
Listen to Eva Rickard and other Māori activists on Radio New Zealand's Treaty of Waitangi- Te Tiriti o Waitangi Focus program, describing their long campaigns for Māori land rights and self-determination.