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Poroporoaki: Sister Paula Brettkelly

Poroporoaki: Sister Paula Brettkelly

Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Monday 1 September 2008

The loss of social activist and Catholic nun, Sister Paula Brettkelly, will be felt deeply across Aotearoa said Maori Party co-leader, Tariana Turia.

“The diminutive, gentle and smiling nun could charm even the most hostile opponent, and in doing so, made an enormous contribution to change in our communities” said Tariana Turia.

“I have always thought that the Sisters of the St Joseph of Nazareth are amongst our most passionate political champions” said Mrs Turia. “Sister Paula was relentless in her pursuit of human rights, with particular emphasis on the rights and opportunities for people living with HIV and AIDS”.

“She was a fierce advocate for the Homosexual Law Reform Bill in 1986 and over the last twenty-two years she has been totally dedicated towards ensuring that the intention of the law has been realised in every aspect of our world”.

“Sister Paula was committed to honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and consistently upheld Treaty justice in every forum she could. I recall a meeting of the Whanganui City Council in which councillors were addressing waste solutions. Sister Paula referred the Councillors to the fourth article of Te Tiriti, explaining that Bishop Pompallier had promoted the concept of protecting the spirituality of the land – and in essence that was what recycling was all about”.

“She was a courageous battler in so many areas of her life, that I was not at all surprised that she grappled with the traumatic ordeal of cancer for so long, with such characteristic bravery and firmness of heart”.

“She impressed us all with her incredible zest for life – I can remember her telling us with glee, when she was working along the river (Whanganui) and hopping on the back of Ritchie Akapita’s motorbike to get to her next hui”.

“Sister Paula lived her life respecting and loving the dignity of every human – she is a remarkable inspiration to us all” said Mrs Turia.

“Her love was driven by a powerful faith – she had no tolerance for discrimination, for injustice, for inequalities” said Mrs Turia.

“The wisdom of her advocacy, her peaceful presence and her lifelong commitment to justice will remain in our hearts, as will the cheeky twinkle of her eyes as she issued yet another profound challenge to life as we knew it”.


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