Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Remembering the irrepressible Dick Scott

Dick Scott, who passed away on 1 January, was a courageous voice for justice and righting historical wrongs throughout a long and original writing career. 

It was Dick who first brought to light the appalling treatment of the Parihaka community led by Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, in The Parihaka Story in 1954. 

That book was later published as Ask That Mountain, widely regarded as among the most important New Zealand books of the twentieth century. 

Dick on the Kaipara Harbour during the Seven Lives on Salt River project
It was in working on a revision of that book in 1998 for Reed Publishing that I came to meet Dick, and we formed a strong friendship through two other new editions (his seminal works 151 Days and Seven Lives on Salt River) and his autobiography Dick Scott: A Radical Writer's Life

The latter was his last book, and Dick happily retired in this eighties to pursue his varied interests and spend time with his wife Sue. 

Not only an historian, Dick was also a publisher of note, having a hand in his own books through his Southern Cross Books and founding the country's first wine journal, Wine Review. 

A collection of his writings with photography by Marti Friedlander, whom Dick had employed early in her career, made up another Reed book, Pioneers of New Zealand Wine.

Dick recalled that winemakers on occasion paid for ads in early editions of the Review in kind, with crates of wine delivered to his home office. 

Consuming what was often not the highest-quality vintage had its hazards, but Dick survived and thrived. 

He lived to be 96 and received honours including the Prime Ministers Award for Literary Achievement and an honorary doctorate from Massey University. 

- Peter Dowling

Click here for the New Zealand Herald's item about Dick.

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