10 Questions with Mark Revington


Q1: You’ve had the privilege of helping Mark Solomon write a book that reflects on his life and on key issues.  Was it your idea, and why?

Both Tā Mark and I thought he had an important story to tell. He is an avid reader with a photographic memory while I am a writer so together we collaborated on his story. I would emphasise that it is his story.


Q2: How significant a figure is he?

He is an extemely significant figure both within Ngāi Tahu and also Aotearoa  generally. I think he is widely recognised for his contribution to Ngāi Tahu’s development and to the advancement of Māoridom, although no one likes to be lumped into a general term like that.


Q3: He is so incredibly busy, and engaged in so many key things. How did you manage to carve out time with him?

Tenacity. I would ring him and email, and sometimes wait a while. Patience is always a virtue, and working within Māoridom teaches you about patience.


Q4: Many people of great mana have played a part in his life, including his grandfather Rangi Solomon and his Uncle Bill, Wiremu, Solomon. How did working with Tā Mark on the book help you assess the measure of them?

I gained a better understanding of their mana and determination. Both played key roles for the iwi, and in shaping Mark Solomon into the leader he became and is.


Q5: Ngāi Tahu has become such a powerful force since its Treaty Settlement was signed in 1998.  How big a part did Mark Solomon play in that, in your view?

I think Mark Solomon played an integral part in making Ngāi Tahu a major force, especially on a national level, but there have been many people who have played a significant role in the tribe’s development. His is an interesting story — from foundryman to tribal leader — however many people have played a part. There is a saying that everyone on a marae is a leader, and I think that is true.


Q6: How would you describe his brand of leadership?  

I think he is authentic. What you see is what you get. He cares about people, is decisive and doesn’t play games of any description.


Q7: You’ve also been living in Christchurch and seen how that conservative Pākehā city has learned to get comfortable with and appreciate Ngāi Tahu. Things can only get better from here?  

I hope so. It was quite a revelation to me having grown up in the eastern Bay of Plenty to discover some of the attitudes that existed here, but I think the country has changed a lot of for the better. As Tā Mark says in  his book, there is still racism and it will take a generation or two to change that but Aotearoa is changing.


Q8: Do you think the mistrust of the iwi and the Treaty process is slowly fading?

I think there is a slow recognition that this country has a history of injustice to Māori, and education about the whys of the process certainly help. I suspect there is an older generation that has been brought up on lies but it is slowly changing. Ignorance should not be an excuse but our modern society was founded on a land grab


Q9: What’s one thing you have learned from working with Tā Mark?

I have been impressed by his honesty and his humble approach. Whoops, two things!


Q10: And what’s the quality you most admire about him?

See Q9.