Much was said about Parekura during his tangi by various orators and through the media.
Parekura’s mana and the calibre of the man and his achievements during his political life, was fully endorsed by his political colleagues, from all the political parties, from the Prime Minister, John Key and his team; David Shearer for the Labour Party and his team; Winston Peters on behalf of NZ First; Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples for the Maori Party to John Banks for Act Party and finally to Hone Harawira for the Mana Party.
The presence of all of these political Parties, says to me, that Parekura was the kind of person who did not see political fences as barriers for collaborative discussions with others in order to gain some momentum for his aspirations for Maori. Parekura – so we were told by his colleagues – had a knack of establishing excellent relationships with everyone, whilst retaining his sense of loyalty to his ‘Party’.
Loyalty was also referred to as one of his attributes, yet for him loyalty was never a barrier to working with others in order to give traction to his aspirations for Maori. In fact his sense of loyalty to his party, to his colleagues, to the Parliamentary Process, to his purpose for being an M.P. and above all for his people, was well known to all.
Hearing all of the accolades from others and in particular from his political colleagues – specific parties notwithstanding – was most humbling for Ngati Porou, and for Maori to hear. All iwi who attended his tangi as well as those acknowledgements were recorded in the media, likewise spoke of the same attributes referred to by his political colleagues, except the references here were those aspects which iwi throughout the country saw and experienced.
His busy schedule not-withstanding, Parekura made every effort to attend functions of whatever kind and description from one end of Maoridom to the other. This was a hallmark which idiosyncratically separate Parekura out from other politicians. By this, I mean that for him, Parliamentary representation was not confined to his Office and seat in Parliament, but it was also reaching out to his people in good times and in moments of grief. To do this on an on-going basis makes him and his political career most unique.
His frequently quoted phrase of: “Feed the children; feed the nation” was articulated often during the tangi, and indeed became the theme of the funeral liturgy created by one of his own Padre Bill Gray. Much humour likewise occurred at his tangi, and, at his expense, especially in terms of his own incomparable use of the English and Maori language, his messages were understood by those in authority, with positive results and outcomes emanating from his oral presentations on behalf of his people.
Parekura, as a grassroots person understood the needs, the passions, the concerns, and, the aspirations of iwi irrespective of iwi affiliation. This grassroots education he learnt from his people was one of those characteristic features that made him different and that marked how he did his business.
Genealogically, Parekura has whakapapa throughout “nga whanau / hapu o Ngati Porou” from Hicks Bay – Te Araroa through Te Whanau-a-Tuwhakairirora, Te Whanaua- Hinerupe, Te Whanau-a-Te Aotaiki, inclusive of other whanau in Te Riu o Waiapu. His father is interred at Awatere among his ancestors from that area.
On his Mauheni side Parekura is of Te Riu o Waiapu; his whakapapa is also my whakapapa. He always acknowledged these ties inclusive of his descent to Hauiti. Rawiri Ruru’s eulogy covered Parekrua’s whanaungatanga to Ngati Porou. It was a great eulogy.
Parekura’s seat in Te Ikaroa Rawhiti is up for grabs, with each Political Party naming candidates in the forthcoming bi-elections. None of the candidates selected are able to fill Parekura’s “shoes” so to speak, nor do we expect them to do so, because each candidate will have their own views on how they can make their shoes to fit their own Political Philosophies.
What is of interest however, is the inherent and innate skills of some candidates, including those who failed to be named by their respective parties. If I were the leader of a political party, I would consider courting some of these candidates to my political persuasion come the General Election, even to the point of offering some serious thought for a list candidacy on my Party List. However, I am not in this area of involvement, nor am I about to tell political Leaders how to “suck eggs”.
Congratulations to all who have come forward to fill the void left by Parekura – political Parties – notwithstanding!Also congratulations to those who have received the nod from their respective parties.It now remains for us to hear what they have to market to us, as well as the advantages and benefits that will ensue from the “what of their benefits” for us. They will also tell us how they will “feed the children; feed the nation".
Finally, I have received enquiries from the media as to where my vote is in the forthcoming bi-elections. This became a Maori journalist’s misrepresentation of why I was at the launching of Hamua Nikora’s political campaign.
Dr. A T Mahuika