Porirua Writer's Walk - Alastair Te Ariki Campbell

1925-2009

 

Alistair Te Ariki Campbell’s father, John Archibald (Jock) Campbell, was a New Zealand Scot and his mother, Teu Bosini, was a Cook Island Maori.  Alistair was born and brought up in Rarotonga.  In 1932, when Alistair was seven, his mother died from tuberculosis.  The following year his father also died and Alistair was sent with his brother Bill to Dunedin to stay with their grandmother Campbell.  However, she found it hard to cope with two children and they ended up in an orphanage.  

As a young man Alistair moved to Wellington where he began to write seriously and became part of what was to be known as the Wellington group, which included James K Baxter, Louis Johnson and W H Oliver.

Alistair lived most of his life in New Zealand, mainly around the Wellington region and for several decades in Pukerua Bay, Porirua.  

 

The sculpture is in the form of a wave and a boat, reflecting the words of the poem ‘Omoka’ which describe Alistair’s original homeland but also acknowledging its location on the Porirua waterfront.  The poem ‘Omoka’ is from the 1980 bundle ‘The Dark Lord of Savaiki: Poems’:

 

“It will be like this one day

when I sail home to die

the boat crunching up on to the sand,

then wading through warm water

to the beach,

the friendly voices 

round me in the darkness,

the sky dying out

behind the trees of Omoka,

and reaching out of hands. “

 

Omoka, 1980

 

During his life he continued to write and publish work and he received many honours, most notably the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry (1982), the Pacific Islands Artist Award (1998), an Honorary DLitt from Victoria University of Wellington (1999), and a Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement (2005).  In 2005 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.