West Papuan separatists release video of New Zealand pilot they took hostage

Phillip Mark Mehrtens, a pilot for Susi Air, was abducted by armed wing of the Free Papua Movement

Separatist rebels in Indonesia’s restive Papua province have released photos and videos of a man they say is the pilot from New Zealand they took hostage last week.

Phillip Mark Mehrtens of Christchurch, a pilot for the Indonesian aviation company Susi Air, was abducted by independence fighters from the West Papua National Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement, who stormed his single-engine plane shortly after it landed on a small runway in Paro, in the remote Nduga district.

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‘Our identity lies in these songs’: saving the music of India’s Biate

Forgotten Songs Collective aims to preserve ancient hill tribe’s music by bringing it to a global audience

It was five years ago, as he sat around a fire lit deep in the forests covering the hills of Dima Hasao in Assam, that a shadow of sadness came into the eyes of Lallura Darnei. Now in his seventies, Darnei was one of the oldest members of the Biate community, an ancient hill tribe living in north-east India. The songs he sang around the flames that night, speaking of great floods and the birds that flap their wings at sunset, dated back so many generations the tribe said they were as old as time.

But, said Darnei, when he died these songs would probably die with him, and with it the history, the knowledge, culture of the Biate, would be gone for ever. The younger generation of the tribe had fallen in love with guitar music and K-pop and had not learned the traditional songs. They could not pick up the ancient melodies and he was the last of the Biate who knew how to play and make the siranda, the tribe’s traditional violin crafted from wood and the dried skin of an iguana.

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‘Rage, but also joy and completeness’: bringing New Zealand’s stolen ancestors home

The remains of Māori people taken by an Austrian taxidermist in 1877 and displayed in a Vienna museum have finally been returned

On the shorelines of Wellington, the sound of weeping poured out into the thick mist of the city harbour. A procession moved in slow, measured steps. Their heads were bowed and crowned with ferns. At the centre of the group walked 64 people, each cradling a beige cardboard box.

Inside those boxes are the remains of their ancestors, stolen in secret from their graves and kept for more than a century in a Viennese museum. The battle for their return has taken 77 years of negotiations, entreaties and diplomacy. At the ceremony on Sunday, each ancestor was carried inside, placed at the entrance to the marae (meeting house) and gently covered by woven blankets and feathered cloaks. The crowd sang, cried and laughed.

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A moment that changed me: a rebel fighter who risked his life for love was murdered, and part of me died too

As a journalist in a conflict zone I was used to covering deaths. But then a young insurgent who had laid down his weapons and become a friend was killed

I first met Korsa Joga in March 2013 – a chance encounter in the intelligence department of the Chhattisgarh police in Raipur, central India. He was a former insurgent who had recently been trapped and been asked to surrender, alongside his lover, Varalakshmi, a former government teacher. Both were Adivasis, the indigenous people of India, and native to Bastar, a massive wilderness that remains the battleground between the Indian state and the ultra-left Maoist guerrilla fighters known as Naxalites.

We had quickly formed a bond that was deeper than the usual ones journalists strike up with the people they meet on assignments. His decision to abandon the revolution and his AK-47 to be with the woman he loved, and his escape from the jungle to the cities of southern India to begin a family life with her, fascinated me. After his short stint with the police he became a police informer in Bijapur, southern Bastar, and I would meet him during my visits, calling him to ask about his new job and the threats he faced.

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‘Ultimate honour’: remains of hundreds of Moriori returned in biggest repatriation yet

Remains returned from UK Natural History Museum as well as from across New Zealand, a century after being dug up as curiosities by explorers

The skeletal remains of more than 100 Moriori ancestors, the Indigenous people of Rēkohu – or the Chatham Islands – have been returned to the tribe from the UK, as part of the largest single repatriation of Moriori remains to date.

The ancestral remains, or karāpuna in Moriori dialect, were unceremoniously dug up by colonisers to be traded as curiosities and, for up to 100 years since, have sat in collections in London’s Natural History Museum and across Aotearoa New Zealand.

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Matariki: ‘historic’ moment as New Zealand celebrates first Indigenous public holiday

Maori new year legally recognised for first time, prompting excitement and debate over how best to mark the day

On the volcanic peak of Maungakiekie, astronomers and stargazers huddled in the freezing early morning to see the constellations of the new year rising. Observatories around the country have opened their doors. At Takaparawhau, overlooking Auckland, 1000 people gathered at dawn for the cracking open of an earth oven, to watch the steam and smoke rise into the dark sky in an offering to the stars.

Across Aotearoa New Zealand, people have been gathering this week in pre-dawn mornings and icy winter nights to honour Matariki, the Māori new year. This year marks the first time the celebration is being formally and legally recognised, making it the country’s first Indigenous public holiday.

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Māori moko facial tattoos revived by a new generation with designs on the future

After brutal colonial-era efforts to suppress Māori culture, symbols of Indigenous identity are flourishing once more

Mokonui-ā-rangi Smith crouches on a woven mat, deep in concentration, the sound of tapping filling the room. Rhythmically, Smith hits a sharp bone comb to pierce the skin of the man in front of him, pushing in the pigment. The process is painstaking, meditative.

Over Smith’s shoulders two kuia – female elders – are visible, with lines of ink tracing their faces. They feature on two 1970 magazine covers encased in glass. The headline declares: “Māori Moko Fast Disappearing.”

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‘Pivotal’ Māori leader Tipene O’Regan made member of Order of New Zealand

Champion of Māori rights honoured by Queen for life of work dedicated to improving ‘economic, cultural and social standing of Māori communities’

A Māori leader, educator and historian who has dedicated his life to the betterment of Māori and was instrumental in developing Māori fishing interests has been awarded New Zealand’s highest honour.

Tā (Sir) Tipene O’Regan, 83, has been made a member of the Order of New Zealand as part of the Queen’s birthday honours list. O’Regan was awarded the distinction alongside Dame Silvia Cartwright, a former governor general and the first woman in New Zealand to become a high court judge.

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Moana Jackson was the most articulate, original and forceful intellectual of his generation | Morgan Godfrey

The lawyer, teacher and activist was without equal. New Zealand is so much poorer for his passing, but so much richer for his life

It seems fitting that Wellingtonians woke to an eerie morning, mist clinging to the hills and harbour, as news broke that Moana Jackson, who spent so much of his life in Wellington’s Wainuiōmata, had died. The lawyer, teacher, activist, father and grandfather was the most articulate, original and forceful intellectual of his generation. He was, too, perhaps the humblest, and so flattery is ill-fitting on a man who gave so much without ever asking for anything in return. But the acknowledgment must stand: Moana Jackson was a rangatira (chief) of the highest rank and his contribution to New Zealand’s political and intellectual life are without equal.

That is not to imply, though, that his contributions came without a cost. In 1988, after publishing He Whaipaanga Hou, a landmark report establishing that the criminal justice system was racist, Matua Moana was the target of the very worst letter writers to the national newspapers and the most vicious callers to talkback radio. And yet he never took a back step. In the following decades he would argue again and again that the criminal justice system is racist, colonisation is responsible, and that the best means of restoring the mana of victims, offenders and the people who administer the system is tikanga.

The te reo Māori term “Matua” is a respectful form of address for a leader

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‘The gates of hell opened’: after decades, Māori survivors of state abuse are finally heard

Māori children faced not just the physical abuse, but the trauma of being cut off from their culture, New Zealand royal commission hears

When Tupua Urlich – the first person to take the stand at a landmark Māori hearing on abuse in state care – is asked to talk about his upbringing, he puts his heads to his clasped hands and says he needs to take a minute. “This is an emotional thing to go through,” he says. “I don’t mind people seeing this because this is what we go through every day of our lives.”

Urlich, of Croatian and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga descent, was five when he was separated from his mother and seven siblings, and sent to live with a non-whānau [non-family] caregiver chosen by the state. “That’s when the gates of hell opened up,” he says. “I can tell you, I was far safer in those first five years of my life,” he tells the hearing.

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Sydney is no place to build a Māori meeting house – it is disrespectful to Aboriginal people | Morgan Godfery

Marae embody deep connections to the land and are a statement of indigeneity – but Māori aren’t indigenous in Australia

When most New Zealanders hear the term “marae” they think of the typical Māori meeting house.

The angular facade, decorated in red and white carvings, and the open space for the “encounter” where guests arrive in the warmth of welcome, in the grief of a tangi (funeral), or in the uncertainty of a disagreement.

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New Zealand Māori party calls for a ‘divorce’ from Britain’s royal family

Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi said the move was ‘an opportunity to reimagine a more meaningful and fulfilling partnership’

The Māori party of New Zealand has called for a “divorce” from the crown and removal of the British royal family as New Zealand’s head of state.

The call came on the 182nd anniversary of the signing of the treaty of Waitangi, or Te Tiriti o Waitangi, New Zealand’s foundational legal document.

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Images of India: from courtesans and colonial rule to a child’s-eye view – in pictures

Since its invention in the 1840s, photography has played an integral part in Indian art history. Although it is often said that India is the most photographed country in the world, the history of its representation is more complicated, and more political, than initially meets the eye. Visions of India: From the Colonial to the Contemporary is the first major survey of Indian photography in Australia and will be on show at the Monash Gallery of Art in Melbourne until 20 March 2022

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