Book Launch


The launch of Vincent Ward’s new book The Past Awaits brought together Maori from all over the North Island, celebrities, filmmakers and friends.


Close to 100 guests were led into the town centre in Greytown by a kaumatua Vincent affectionately referred to as the ‘original river queen’. Julie Ranganui, an elder from Whanganui, was a cultural advisor on River Queen and was given the job of looking after the river during the making of the film. She told the reporter of the Wairarapa Times Age over the weekend how she came across a man urinating in the river and pushed him in, he was peeing into their food cupboard.

Politics were hot in the air. Not surprisingly with representatives from Tuhoe, Whanganui and the Minister of Treaty Negotiations being present. In his address the Minister Chris Finlayson referred to his hope of achieving a treaty settlement for Tuhoe, despite having told northland Maori ‘to go hell’ the week before.

Papawai Marae performed kapahaka in costumes quite unlike anything seen before. Their mix of Victorian clothing, colonial military garb and feather cloaks, evocative of Ward’s film River Queen, in fact some of the costumes were donated to them from the film. Papawai feel this attire best represents the struggle their people went through during the Land Wars of the1800s when four hundred of their young men went to fight. Two hundred on one side and two hundred on opposing forces; brothers fighting brothers. To avoid further division Papawai joined the rest of the Wairarapa in a decision to keep the region neutral. They forbade fighting in their own territory and welcomed all sides to their meeting ground, which later became the first seat of Maori Parliament, Kotahitanga. Ward grew up not far from this Marae and it is no coincidence that something of these themes; cultural division, reconciliation through often intimate engagement, have found echoes in his work.

The launch itself was held at the Town Center, Greytown a building constructed by Ward’s ancestors. TV presenter Miriama Kamo acted as MC and Ward presented actor Rena Owen with one of his oil paintings (overdue payment for her role in Rain of the Children).

“The people of Wairarapa and Greytown really pulled out all the stops to host a terrific event, the local firemen even volunteered to serve the drinks.” says Ward.

Other guests include Wairarapa Mayor Adrienne Staples and her predecessor Bob Francis, and Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey.