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Maori Party mourns death of Mahinaarangi Tocker

Maori Party mourns death of Mahinaarangi Tocker
Statement by Co-leaders Hon Tariana Turia and Dr Pita Sharples 16 April 2008

The Maori Party is deeply upset to hear that Mahinaarangi Tocker has drawn her last breath at the young age of 52. We mourn our own loss, and share the grief of her whänau.

Over 25 years, since her ethereal voice, powerful insight and driving passion first caught our attention on the New Zealand music scene, Mahinaarangi established herself as a leading writer and performer of world music.

Mahinaarangi worked her magic on audiences in Europe, North America and Australia, and in every corner of New Zealand. Most people know Mahinaarangi’s music, but she was also a poet, writer, actress and performer of many talents.

Mahinaarangi was immensely proud of all of the ‘differences’ that gave insight to her art. As proud as she was to be a member of the gay and lesbian community, Mahinaarangi was, however, never one to be categorised or to conform to expectations, to be contained within a comfort zone. The sharp edge of her work cut through convention and revealed new truths to her audiences.

What is striking about Mahinaarangi’s career is her political commitment, to the causes she espoused, the festivals she supported, the far-flung communities she toured, the schools she visited, the artists she mentored. Her generosity was her inspiration.

It was a courageous step for a performing artist to support the ‘Like Minds Like Mine’ campaign to destigmatise mental illness, but that is what Mahinaarangi helped to achieve.

She was obviously proud of her mixed heritage - Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Tainui (Ngati Maniapoto), Hebrew and Celtic - her 2005 album was called ‘The Mongrel in Me’. And New Zealand was proud to award her an MNZM in the New Year’s Honours this year.

We express our sincere condolences to Mahinaarangi’s whänau, and we hope that her priceless artistic legacy will give them some comfort, as it does to all of us, that her spirit will live forever.


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