9 Dec 2015

Google celebrates Dame Whina Cooper

3:02 pm on 9 December 2015

Popular search engine Google is marking the 120th birthday of Māori rights activist Whina Cooper.

Google marks the 120th birthday of Māori rights activist Whina Cooper.

Google's "doodle" is visible to users of the company's search engine in New Zealand. Photo: Google

Dame Whina Cooper was 79 years old when she led the historic land march in 1975, from Cape Reinga to Wellington, to stop the sale of Māori land.

Dame Whina Cooper

Dame Whina Cooper in 1975 Photo: Christian F Heinegg

Five thousand people blocked the motorway into Wellington on 13 October 1975, before presenting a petition of support with 60,000 signatures to Parliament.

Today's Google logo depicts the kuia with a group of Māori following her.

"Not only did the march unite many different groups - a major feat at the time - but it also attracted significant national attention, taking public awareness of Māori land rights to new heights," the company said in a note accompanying the "doodle".

Early sketches of the Google "doodle" by illustrator Olivia Huynh.

Early sketches by Google illustrator Olivia Huynh Photo: Google

"Doodler Olivia Huynh took inspiration from photos of the time, highlighting the fact that the march involved people of all ages, all brought together by a passionate and tenacious leader."

The doodle is visible to users of Google's search engine in New Zealand.

It follows similar tributes to Martin Luther King Jr, South African civil rights leader Miriam Makeba and the 1930 Salt March let by Mahatma Gandhi in India.

Dame Whina died in Panguru in Hokianga in 1994, aged 98.

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