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Tariana Turia Beehive Chat

Tariana Turia Beehive Chat 07 October 2002

E nga iwi, tena koutou.

Kei te tangi tonu te ngakau ki a Maui Dalvanius Prime, to tatou karanga maha o Nga Rauru, o Ngati Ruanui, o Te Ati Haunui a Paparangi, o Ngati Tuwharetoa hoki, i mate ai i nga ra tata nei.

Dalvanius Prime died the very day the Ngati Ruanui Claims Settlement Bill was first read Parliament. Over the past few days our people have wept over him, but even after we've buried his body, his memory will live on.

He was unforgettable.

In person, his energy was like a visible aura all round him. Up close, you could feel the heat, right in your face.

It was that driving force that carried Dalvanius around the world, entertaining crowds for over 30 years, and mixing with big names in the music world -Isaac Hayes, Dionne Warwick, the Pointer Sisters, Tina Turner, the Commodores, and many more.

We all knew he'd met these famous people because Dalvanius told us. He wasn't showing off. To Dal, the whole world was larger than life, including himself.

If you ever got an e-mail from him, you'll know what I mean. The colours were so bright, and the writing so huge, all in capitals, you almost fell off your chair. The messages were so urgent, and the language so full of superlatives, it seemed like the world was coming to an end.

But there was a serious purpose to what Dal did.

In 1983, he met Ngoi Pewhairangi and, in Dal's words, she changed his life. They discussed how to encourage young people to learn and use te reo.

Ngoi was a language artist. With Dal's flair for promotion, Poi E! sung by the Patea Maori Club shot to Number One in the pop charts four weeks on end. It was the best-selling song of 1984. Poi E! was all in Maori - this was incredible!

It was a turning point for tangata whenua - our language and culture became mainstream, just as Dal and Ngoi had planned.

After Ngoi died in 1986, Dalvanius kept our culture to the fore, with a musical based on Patea Maori Club members after the freezing works closed, TV documentaries, and an animated video.

Dal helped to launch some well-known artists - Moana Maniapoto, A Taste of Bounty, and Southside of Bombay. He contributed music for several films - Ngati, Te Rua and Once Were Warriors.

In recent years, Dal has led negotiations with museums overseas for body parts of our tupuna to be returned to their iwi for burial.

Well, we've known for some time that Dal was dying, but it's still a shock, and we'll miss him dearly.

No reira, e te tungane, e te rangatira, haere, haere, haere atu ra.

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