Rowley Habib, New Zealand writer, Died at 83


Rowley Habib was born in 1933, and died on April 3, 2016, he was also known as Rore Hapipi.

He was a New Zealand poet, playwright, and a writer of short stories and television scripts.

Rowley came from Lebanese and Māori descent, he identified with the Ngāti Tūwharetoa iwi.

Rowley Habib was educated at Te Aute College and then attended teachers’ training college for a time, before working in a variety of jobs including in a bookshop, timber mills, freezing works, and on hydroelectric dam construction sites.

Rowley was the first Māori to write an original television drama: his 1979 work The Gathering looked at tensions around an elderly woman’s tangihanga.

Rowley also wrote the Māori play, Death of the Land, in 1976, which tells the story of whether or not a block of Māori land should be sold.

His television drama The Protesters won the award for best script at the 1983 New Zealand Feltex Awards.

And the cast of The Protesters included Merata Mita, Jim Moriarty, Billy T. James and Don Selwyn.

During 1984, he was awarded the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship, and in 2013, he was honoured for his contribution to Māori arts at the Te Waka Toi Awards.

Rowley played Death of the Land was described as a “landmark in the development of Māori theatre.

Rowley Habib passed away at 83 yrs old.