Mahinarangi Tocker (1956-2008)

19. 4. 2008 | Rubriky: Articles,Lives

[by Ken Hunt, London] On 15 April 2008 Mahinarangi Tocker, the Maori musician, songwriter, feminist, gay and lesbian rights activist and political campaigner, died in Auckland, New Zealand. She was one of New Zealand’s most conspicuous song-makers and bore comparison with Joan Armatrading and Tracy Chapman. Born in 1956, she was of mixed bloodlines. She was of Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Raukawa and Ngati Tuwharetoa – Ngati is a Maori tribal prefix -, Jewish and European stock, hence the title of one of her albums: The Mongrel In Me. As frontrunner for the title of New Zealand’s best-known songwriter, over the course of her career she was astonishingly prolific as a songwriter, being credited with over 500 songs. That position was also assisted by how she engaged and how much she engaged with mainstream New Zealander society. She was an outspoken advocate for lesbian and gay rights, health issues and engaged politics. In 1999 she was selected to sing at the opening of Parliament. Her advocacy, work and contributions – many and varied – were recognised in January 2008 when she became an MNZMO (Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for her services to music in the New Year’s gong giving.

For further insights into Mahinarangi Tocker’s life and work, see Kiran Dass’s informative on-line article, originally in the October/November 2005 issue of New Zealand Musician, at 1.

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