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NZer of the Year Dame Anne Salmond moved by award

Friday 01 Mar 2013 9:47a.m.

Dame Anne moved by award

Renowned historian Dame Anne Salmond has been named New Zealander of the Year.

The Auckland University professor is the author of award-winning books about early Maori life and the first encounters between pakeha and tangata whenua.

The judges selected her as this year's winner because of the contribution she has made to New Zealand.

"It was just so moving, because it comes from the grass-roots of New Zealand," Dame Anne told Firstline this morning.

She was given the award at a ceremony at the Langham Hotel in Auckland last night.

Dame Anne first got into studying early Maori culture and history when she was a teenager.

"When I was a teenager I went away to the States on a field scholarship, and I had to talk about my country. I realised quite quickly that I didn't know much about anything to do with the Maori side of New Zealand… so I decided that I would learn the reo when I came back, I'd learn the Maori language.

"So I started learning Maori and became involved in te reo Maori, started going to marae, and it was a bit like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – it was like moving into another world, into another dimension in my own country."

She was also influenced by the work of her great grandfather James Macdonald, a film maker who worked with Maori leaders at the turn of the 20th century.

Nowadays she likes to spend time on a reserve near Gisborne, where she grew up.

"It's a place that we used to go to when we were kids. It was a famous swimming hole in Gisborne. Thirteen years ago [husband] Jeremy and I were in Gisborne and we saw a 'for sale' sign on the fence and walked into the bush, and a couple of kereru came and had a bit of a chat, and we thought it was maybe going to go under forestry.

"So we did this mad thing and we bought 100-odd hectares and fell in love with it. We started to restore it – bringing back endangered species – and most recently we've brought back native robins for the first time in 150 years. We've got robins breeding in Poverty Bay."

Winning the title of New Zealander of the Year doesn't mean it's time to quit, however. Dame Anne has more books planned.

"I love writing, I'm teaching, and more time on the land as well. It keeps me sane and balanced, I think – going back to Gisborne, putting on my gumboots and going up that gravel road and seeing the neighbours.

"It keeps me very close to the heart of New Zealand, and I'm very grateful for that."

  • Ian Grant from Auckland was named Senior New Zealander of the Year for dedicating his life to supporting parents by developing the Parenting Place.
  • Sam Judd, from Auckland was named the Young New Zealander of the Year for his work establishing and leading the Sustainable Coastlines Trust.
  • Napier’s Jim Morunga was awarded the Kiwibank Local Heroes Award for his extraordinary work with suicide prevention and supporting disabled Maori.
  • The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust was named Community of the Year for their initiatives establishing support services that improve both the lives of children as a result of recognising the contribution of the grandparents raising them.

 

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