8 Aug 2009

Ngati Porou priest, actor Eru Potaka-Dewes dies

2:17 pm on 8 August 2009

Ngati Porou is mourning firebrand Anglican priest and actor Eru Potaka-Dewes, who died on Thursday.

Born in Ruatoria, Eru Potaka-Dewes attended Waiomatatini Native Primary School, Gisborne Boys High and Otago University, where he gained history and teaching degrees before training for the priesthood, Waatea News reports.

After a period working in Australia, he returned to New Zealand in the mid 1980s to become involved in Maori radicalism, mounting protests on issues like immigration and often challenging the Anglican church on its history and current policies towards Maori.

His screen credits included roles in The Maori Merchant of Venice, The Rainbow Warrior, The Piano and Rapa Nui which was shot on Easter Island.

Ngati Porou kaumatua Koro Dewes says his cousin stood up for the rights of the underprivileged and challenged the way Maori custom was used.