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Whānau Announce the Passing of Bruce Stewart QSM

Whānau Announce the Passing of Bruce Stewart QSM

Tēnā koutou katoa,
Rangatira Bruce Stewart QSM (of Te Arawa and Tainui descent) passed away on Wednesday morning, aged 80. He was surrounded by his whānau at his Island Bay residence Tapu Te Ranga Marae. The whānau are both sad that he is no longer with us and relieved that he is now at peace.

We are grateful to those who have shown aroha and supported Matua Bruce on the last few weeks of his journey, including friends, members of the community, his Doctor, te rōpu Mahi-a-Rongoā Māori, medical staff and volunteers at Mary Potter Hospice. We also want to acknowledge the many people who have played a role throughout his life. And we welcome you all to join us in remembering and celebrating his life. He will be missed by his twelve children and a myriad of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Visionary of Tapu Te Ranga Marae
Matua Bruce was an award-winning builder before he embarked on a journey to build Tapu Te Ranga Marae in 1974. He often quoted the Psalm, “without a vision the people will perish.” He built Tapu Te Ranga Marae from recycled material with just $25 and a dream. His mantra was, “he who builds the house is built by the house.” This is true for the many people who have helped to build whare and deliver social services at the Marae for the last 40 years. Manuhiri from right across the world have been touched by the openness and warmth of Tapu Te Ranga Marae, which he described as a living marae.

Kaitiaki of Papatūānuku
Matua Bruce believed we are all “kaitiaki” of the earth – that nobody owns the whenua, but that we are caretakers for future generations. He believed in living as Māori, self-sustainability, and keeping in touch with Papatūānuku (the Earth). Matua Bruce will also be remembered for his service to the community, particularly his work with gang members, the homeless and unemployed through a work cooperative, supported by central and local government.

Activist for Māori rights
Matua Bruce will be remembered for his service to arts and culture as a gospel and jazz singer, actor, literary author, and a playwright. He was appointed President of Ngā Puna Waihanga (Māori Writers and Artists Society) in 1982. His plays advocated for Māori rights during the Māori renaissance of the 1980’s. He was a passionate activist during a time when Māori were emerging in politics, culture and art.

Matua Bruce has said on numerous occasions "The Marae is my home…it is my place of work. The Marae is my kindergarten right through to my university…it is my Museum…my church…my Art Gallery. It is where I was born and where I will be buried."

Tangihanga Details
Matua Bruce will be lying-in-state at Tapu Te Ranga Marae, Island Bay from Thursday 30 June to Sunday 2 July, with a final tangihanga service this Sunday at 10:00am. Members of the public are welcome to pay their respects during the course of the tangihanga.

Nāku noa, nā

Gabriel Tupou
Stewart Family Spokesperson

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