Historian of Tuhoe in critical condition

By Yvonne Tahana

Dame Judith has suffered serious head injuries. Photo / Dean Purcell
Dame Judith has suffered serious head injuries. Photo / Dean Purcell

Historian Dame Judith Binney was in a critical but stable condition in intensive care at Auckland City Hospital last night after being struck by a truck on Friday evening.

She has serious head injuries after the accident which happened while she was crossing Princes St in Auckland city. The truck stopped at the scene.

The accident comes at a time when Dame Judith should be celebrating the publication of a significant piece of research around Tuhoe history. She launched her latest book, Encircled Lands: Te Urewera, 1820-1921, a week ago in Ruatoki at Waikirikiri Marae.

An Auckland University emeritus professor of history, Dame Judith has devoted decades to telling the iwi's stories and she is someone whom the tribe trusts.

It was an occasion that the 69-year-old clearly enjoyed as locals and academics patiently waited for the author to sign copies of the book.

Her contribution to the tribe and the place Dame Judith holds in their hearts were recognised at the book launch when iwi leader Pou Temara gave her a Maori name, Tomairangi o Te Aroha, which means the heavenly dews of love.

Tuhoe academic Wharehuia Milroy has known Dame Judith for four decades and spoke on her behalf during the powhiri at the launch.

He said at the weekend that the tribe was in shock.

"It took me a long, long time to be able to talk to [her husband] Sebastian [Black] at all.

"We're all hoping and praying that she will recover.

"I'm just thinking positively, when she recovers, we don't want to think any other way."

Mr Black had told Mr Milroy what bringing the book back to the iwi meant to Dame Judith.

"He said that the other day was one of the happiest, happiest, days of her life."

- NZ Herald

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