7 May 2015

Henare's death 'end of era'

9:32 pm on 7 May 2015

The people of Te Tai Tokerau and Māoridom are mourning the death of a leading advocate of Te Reo Māori.

Erima Henare

Erima Henare, former Māori Language Commissioner and Ngāti Hine elder. Photo: RNZ

Former Māori Language Commissioner, Erima Henare, of Ngāti Hine descent died suddenly in the early hours of Thursday morning from a heart attack at his home in Wellington.

He was 62 years old.

Mr Henare is the youngest son of the late Sir James Henare and the father of Tāmaki Makaurau MP, Peni Henare.

The Te Tokerau MP, Kelvin Davis, said in the north the people have a saying: E Takitaki ana ngā whetū o te kāhui o Matariki which means: one of the stars of Pleiades has faded.

He said Mr Henare had so much respect in Te Ao Māori that his death will be hard to comprehend.

"All of Ngāti Hine all of Ngāpuhi will be mourning", Mr Davis said.

"He was such a great man, he had his hand in so many different organisations and they'll all be feeling his loss and everyone will be shocked.

And Mr Davis said that Mr Henare's death marks the end of an era and he was a leader who will be hard to replace.

"He was from another era to many of us younger ones, an era that's gradually fading out.

"His [He had a great depth] of knowledge about history, about whakapapa (geneology), his ability with the reo in both English and Māori.

"He had a wicked sense of humour, but he was just really a humble man with an extreme amount of knowledge that is just going to be sadly missed by all of us."

Chairperson of Far North iwi Te Rarawa, Haami Piripi, said Mr Henare comes from an important lineage which made his leadership even more special.

"It's a rare event to have a leader in a leadership role because of their ascribed status as well as their prescribed status," Mr Piripi said.

"And what that means is that Erima was born into his status as a leader by virtue of his whakapapa and by virtue of the leadership qualities of his forebears, including his grandfather Tau Henare and his father Sir James Henare."

Māori Party co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell, said Mr Henare always impressed him and was a fine example of a true rangatira, or leader.

"Erima epitomised all the good things about being Māori," Mr Flavell said."One who is hugely strong on his own identity as Ngāti Hine and Ngāpuhi whānui. His use of Te Reo Māori showed that and he was an expert in how he carried our language and was a wonderful speaker to listen to both in English and Māori."

Mr Flavell said that Mr Henare was never dull, always entertaining and knew how to connect with people.

"He had a real dry sense of humour and got on with pretty much most people and had a clear vision of what he wanted for our language and for our people, and I'm sure at times he did get frustrated with the things that happened or were happening around Te Ao Māori, but he always had that positive nature to him that endeared him to so many many people both young and old and throughout the motu [country], he's a huge loss."

Mr Henare also had a long career in the public service and was the former chief executive of the Ngāti Hine Health Trust.

According to a relative of Mr Henare, Waihoroi Shortland, plans will be made tonight about where Mr Henare's tangihanga or funeral will be held.