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Ae Marika - a column By Hone Harawira 01.12.09

Ae Marika!

A column published in the Northland Age
By Hone Harawira
MP for Tai Tokerau
1 December 2009

I went to a couple of tangi this past week of people who figured large in my life in different ways.

The first one was Hawea Vercoe from down Te Teko. I only met Hawea a few times, but I was hugely impressed with him. He was a councillor, he was a strong and positive role model within Kura Kaupapa and an awesome speaker of the reo.

From all accounts he was being lined up for big things within his iwi, and to many he represented the strong new leadership of the next generation. But to me his greatest strength was that he was bold, he was innovative and he was courageous, and in a world where many Maori leaders aspire to the corporate style of conformist leadership, he wasn’t afraid to step outside the boundaries. He will be sorely missed – not only by his own people, but by the wider Kura Kaupapa movement as well. Haere e te rangatira, haere.

The other one of course was our own Aunty Janie Marsden from right here in Waimanoni.

Aunty Janie was a staunch member of the Anglican Church, but never flinched at criticising her own church if she saw something that could be done better. She was also a powerful and articulate speaker, strong in her beliefs, fearless when she needed to be and never shy to speak her mind.

She also had a habit of turning up at the strangest places all round the country such that I long ago stopped being surprised at where I ran into her and simply appreciated the warmth and the love that she spread amongst those of us from home.

Auntie Janie also had her own way of seeing the world and a very special way of expressing herself, and you never knew exactly what she was going to come out with – sometimes a cuddle and sometimes a telling off, sometimes a karakia and sometimes a korero from completely out of left field – but always she left you with a smile to lighten the dark times, and a blessing to carry you through the hard times.

She had a spark about her did Auntie Janie, just like Nana Taha, and Auntie Matilda. Battleaxes, matriarchs and leaders – and sadly for the rest of us their like may never be seen again. Haere ra e te whäea, haere.

The deadline for me to get this article in means I can’t give you a heads up on what came out of the last big wananga held to determine where to from here for me and the Maori Party, so in lieu of all that let me just say that there’s a saying that goes … laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone. Here’s a ‘love letter’ I got in the email. Enjoy it. I did.

“Dear Grim Reaper,

This year you have taken my favourite male actor, Patrick Swayze. You also took my favourite female actor, Farrah Fawcett Major, and my favourite entertainer and dancer, Michael Jackson.

I want to be sure you know that Hone Harawira is my favourite politician. Thanks.”


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