About Rewi Lyall


An Australian born in New Zealand, my interests include, academically, politics, international relations, history and law, and, recreationally, music, the arts and gaming.

In this blog you’ll find my various thoughts on these and other issues. If, by chance, you’re interested in knowing my thoughts on an issue I haven’t covered yet, please feel free to send me an email: rewi@oqurum.com. Also, I’ve added a ‘Follow’ button which can be found on the bottom right hand corner of the page (at least, that’s where it shows up when I’m looking at the site).

My name

I was named after two people, Rewi Maniaputo and Rewi Alley. The meaning of the name hasn’t been very clear to me, although I recently heard that it means ‘man’, which is good, because that is what I am.

Rewi Manga Maniaputo was the tribal leader of the Ngati Manioputo in the 19th century. He supported the King movement and led Ngati Manioputo warriors into battle against the British in the 1860s, the most notable battle being the three day siege of Orakau. When called on to surrender he is reputed to have said: ‘Ka whawhai tonu matou, Ake! Ake! Ake!’ (We will fight on for ever and ever). More information can be found in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography if you’d like to learn a little more.

Rewi Alley was named after Rewi Manga Manioputo, born in 1897 and moved to China in 1927. There he worked in Shanghai on a variety of famine and flood relief programs, eventually joining the Communist Party. He helped establish INDUSCO (the Industrial Co-operative) in the late 1930s, but was dismissed from that work by the Nationalist government because of his ties to the Communist Party. The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography credits him with the creation of the phrase ‘Gung Ho, Work Together’. While well-known and well-regarded in New Zealand prior to the accession to power of the Communist Party in 1949, during the Cold War his reputation in the country of his birth was diminished. This changed with the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1972, the year that I was born. I have a pamphlet written by Rewi Alley, given to me by my friend Peter Quinn, entitled ‘Oceania’.

‘Oqurum’ (spelling drawn from the Guinness Book of World Records, 1984)


‘Oqurum’, or ‘HWQWRWM’, with thanks to Wikipedia.

I came across the word ‘oqurum’, meaning ‘I have read (this or it)’, in an old copy of the Guiness Book of World Records. In 1984 it held the record as the only surviving word in the shortest language in the world, the Khazar language, spoken by the Khazar people. I haven’t looked at the latest records, but presumably if another language has been reduced to one word and it has five or less letters that would have bumped Khazar off the pedestal.

Later I saw that a friend of mine had a book entitled ‘The Khazar Polemic’, which purports to be the story of the conversion of the Khazar nobility to Judaism. The story goes that the ruler of the Khazar wanted to choose one of Judaism, Christianity or Islam and sent for an emissary from each to make an argument to him in favour of their chosen religion. The book contains what is supposed to be the arguments made by those emissaries.

For more information about the Khazar check out the excellent entry in Wikipedia.

4 Responses to About Rewi Lyall

  1. Finnigans says:

    Greeting Mas Rewi, it’s good to hear you are in Yogya. Wish I could be there myself. cheers.

  2. Peter Quinn says:

    Saudara, love the website.

    Keep up the good work.

    I suppose you have heard about Matt Keogh young lawyer of the year thing.

    Turned sixty the other day. Still a few years left yet!


  3. David MacLean says:

    Ne How Comrade,

    My Doppelganger has been elected leader of the opposition. Marvellous. Best leader that Labor could face in an election but sadly – for fans like me – it demonstrates the unfairness of it all (given that science is not a democracy and the fact that a majority thinks the ETS is a good thing is, on its own, irrelevant) He is the best man for the job but doomed to be a disaster.



  4. Adam Connors says:

    I’ve been meaning to hand you this link – a Rewi Alley feature I did at SBS a few years back.

    Rewi Alley’s gung ho life
    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

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