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Poroporoaki - Witarina Te Miriarangi Harris

Poroporoaki - Witarina Te Miriarangi Parewhaika Harris

Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party

Monday 11 June 2007

The Maori Party today paid tribute to Witarina Te Miriarangi Parewhaika Harris, cherished kuia of Ngati Whakaue o Te Arawa waka; darling of the silver screen; and one of Aotearoa’s original movie stars.

“Our thoughts are with her whanau, hapu and iwi as they gather at Tamatekapua tupuna whare in Ohinemutu, to mourn the passing of their beautiful kuia” said Mrs Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party.

“Aotearoa will be forever blessed with the legacy of Witarina Harris, through our film and sound archives” said Mrs Turia.

Witarina starred as Princess Miro in the 1928 silent movie, Under the Southern Cross, later released as The Devil’s Pit. She was also a soloist with her renditions of immortal waiata featured on the album, Ko Ngati Poneke Hoki Matou, Ngati Poneke Young Maori Club, recorded in the 1930s.

“Witarina retained an active interest in the film industry, in her role as kaumatua for the National Archives, and in fact even appeared in a documentary, ‘Homegrown’, just three years ago as an energetic 98 year old star” said Mrs Turia.

“Witarina was one of our precious links to the past, which has seen her greatly loved and honoured by all our people” said Mrs Turia. “We remember her in supporting Sir Apirana Ngata who recruited her for his parliamentary office, we remember her as a founding member of the Maori Women's Welfare League; we remember her as part of a generation that made the migration to the city, and sought support away from home in groups such as the Ngati Poneke Young Maori Club”.

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“But most of all, we think of the gifts she has left for her mokopuna and generations to follow, through her leadership and inspiration throughout her wider whanau” said Mrs Turia.

“I remember on the occasion of her 100th birthday, I shared in the House some of the wisdom of Witarina” said Mrs Turia. “Upon reaching her centenary year, she reflected, “Kia mau te aroha i a koutou - I have survived to this age, because I have always known the most important thing is love within your wider whanau”.

“Such words will be an important source of comfort in the days ahead” ended Mrs Turia. “Moe mai ra e kui”.


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