Uncle, I thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new, I thought about you yesterday and days before that too. I think of you in silence, I often speak your name, but all I have are memories and your picture in a frame. Your memory is my keepsake with which will never part. Uncle, what an imprint your footprints have left not only in our hearts but for Ngati Porou and Aotearoa as a nation.
There are many attributes of Uncle and writing this article was not easy as he was not a person who liked being written about, put on a pedestal or made centre of attention. So how do you write something about a man like Uncle who did so much in his life and spread his wings in so many areas?
I begin with the most significant people in his life. His first love was his whanau, for he was first and foremost, a husband, father and “hanpa”. Without the support of Auntie Karin and his sons, Matanuku and Hamana, he could not have done all the things he did. His mokopuna were his shining light and it was them that would allow him to relax and have private time, something he often did not get the opportunity to do. He loved and was so proud of them, but they themselves shared him, and thereby sacrificing their quality time in order to allow him to carry out his visions and mahi for his other love - his Iwi, Ngati Porou.
Only a handful would greet him as Dr Apirana Mahuika. Most would greet him as Api, Uncle Api or Papa. He touched so many lives and each one of us will have our own personal feelings, experiences and aroha and reflections of him.
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding, it is established (v3); by knowledge the rooms are filled with precious and pleasant riches (v4); Wise warriors are mightier than strong ones, and those who have knowledge than those who have strength (v5); for by wise guidance you can wage your war (v6).
Wisdom – working smarter, not harder. We often hear the value and rewards of hard work. But how hard is work supposed to be? When faced with a difficult task or heavy volume of demands, how do you respond? Do you think through how to accomplish more with less effort and fewer resources or do you just grit your teeth and exert effort?
Proverbs offers counsel on how that can happen and how we can work “smarter not harder” and this was Uncle:
• We are wise if we honour God in our work and what we receive;
• It is smart to learn and practice diligence and avoid pitfalls of laziness;
• Taking responsibility of our work, and careful planning, it will yield enormous benefits;
• We will avoid much pain and find much joy if we do our work with ethical integrity;
• It is natural for us to want to provide for ourselves, and we are wise to use that motivation by showing initiative;
• It is smarter to work for long-term outcomes than that of short-term gains;
• The path to success is to develop excellence in our skills and performance.
Inspirational, yes he was and because of this people would come to visit, phone or email him for requests, testimonials and support. Whether it be for an individual or whanau/hapu, or for social, political, spiritual reasons. In fact he was sought upon, from not only Ngati Porou but from different sectors for all sorts of different kaupapa. One of his delights was assisting, supporting and fostering others in whatever endeavours they wanted to do.
Above: Matanuku Mahuika, Uncle Api, Albie Mc Farlane and Tyronne Chaffey welcoming visitors of the Crown at Gisborne airport for Foreshore and Seabed Hui – 2005
He was noted as a great leader. There are different styles of leadership and we can all learn about and practice leadership at all levels. They will take responsibility for mistakes, not run from a challenge and make sacrifices for the benefit of others. But what is it about Uncle that made him the man that he was?
Having the privilege of working closely with him over many years, for me, it was his character, passion, wisdom, strength, leadership, weaknesses, sacrifices to name a few. His strength, character, leadership and wisdom were premised on whakawhanaungatanga, whakapapa and tikanga.
He had his own personality that was authentic in the way he engaged with other people, and the way he used his authority. He had a way of making a positive impact on people, was influential and always clear in communicating his values and beliefs of what he stood for (Ngati Porou). This was expressed via his articulate words, whether written or oral in either English or Te Reo ake o Ngati Porou.
He was certainly visionary and would often see things before others could see. Once he had a vision he would set his mind to it (sometimes at great pace). People thought he worked alone, but this is not so, as he engaged and shared with many people his visions that would benefit Ngati Porou (for those who wanted to listen), and was always looking at ways to bring this vision to reality. His wisdom would be such, that he would always ensure there was a plan. As he often said “you cannot build a house without a solid foundation”. If you have a plan things will come – if not it will not work. Simply put, look towards the future, plan, engage then deliver. He would build the right team around him with the relevant experience and knowledge, but in saying that he also believed everyone had a role to play no matter who they were or what they were doing.
He sowed many seeds and this was not put in one individual but many, dependent on what the kaupapa was, because his belief was in order to progress forward there was a need to have the people with the right skills and passion to undertake these fields. Someone once asked him, “Who is your successor? His reply, “I don’t have one, I have successors”. So yes, he did have a succession plan in place.
Above: Dr Kapunga Dewes and Dr Apirana Mahuika.
Respected for his negotiating skills, Uncle was able to judge when to listen, when to intervene (as he didn’t tolerate fools) and when to make decisions. Once a decision was made it stood and he never wavered. He knew when to take responsibility and was never afraid to say no, or stop if he thought things were wrong and would definitely not let other people push him into a decision that he didn’t feel comfortable with or would put the Runanga or Ngati Porou at risk. Actually, he would rather leave the room than continue with a discussion that had no substance.
He had the ability to recognize problems and rather than dwell on these, would cut through an argument, debate and doubt, to offer solutions. Being a good communicator he had the gift of simplifying key messages, and was very clear and coherent.
Great people face obstacles in the pursuit of their dreams and Uncle had his fair share of obstacles, battles, critics and was constantly under scrutiny. But this did not deter him from striving forward to achieve the best he could do, in realising the visions he had for Ngati Porou.
He never went out to win friends or gain respect or honour but in saying this he did receive all of these, as he had a strong rapport with people and this was due to his honesty, integrity, consistency and respect for others. There is a saying and to me it truly reflects the type of person he was..."If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing”. Uncle never compromised!
I need to reflect back to the earlier years of TRONP. It is well known that Uncle was the Chairman of TRONP from its early inception and remained in his seat until his passing, a span of 31 years. This no mean feat and one will not know if this will be repeated. In the earlier years TRONP, trustees were not paid nor were they compensated for their expenses. They had no money, but in spite of this, they had drive, passion, belief, commitment and vision of which today we are reaping and experiencing the rewards from their labour.
Above: Graeme Butterworth (historian), Mate Kaiwai, Hon Winston Peters, Uncle Api and Tamati Reedy at the Ngata Lectures – 2003
There were many milestones achieved whilst he was Chair, and too many to mention here. But I will touch on the following; the return of Mt Hikurangi (achieved after a period of over 10 years of negotiation); the Ngati Porou Treaty Settlement (WAI272); and Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou (FSSB). As the “Legal Aider” for WAI 272, Uncle was involved with the Treaty Settlement process for 20 years, from its beginnings to the signing in 2012. Being the legal aider for WAI 272 meant he could not own any assets and was limited to what he could earn. The Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Bill is sadly a milestone that he will not witness the completion of. His involvement with this kaupapa started in 2003, when negotiations for the Foreshore and Seabed Deed began.
Seeing the C Company House completed was another milestone for him. After receiving the mandate from the veterans he promised that this will be done. He negotiated with the Crown reminding them that they have an obligation to those men who went to war and served for their country. He engaged with the 6 Iwi of C Company and the result of this being the significant contribution received from both supported by C Company uri.
Uncle had his weaknesses and to me, it was that he gave more than he received. During my first years he would come into the office and work in reception or sit in the boardroom if it was not being used for a meeting. If a meeting was held he would leave and go home. His home was his office, and he used his own vehicle and paid for his own expenses. Overtime and in more recent years he was paid a nominal honorarium fee, acquired an office, work car, provided a work cell phone and provided a budget for travel.
In saying this he still paid for many things out of his own pocket. He may have been on many boards but I can count on half a hand how many boards he received sitting fees for. He was not a man of riches nor was he a man who had the finer things in life. But he was a rich man because of who he was, what he believed in and what he had done for the betterment of his Iwi.
Uncle’s humbleness was such that few people knew he was offered a knighthood by three respective Prime Ministers. Although many tried to convince him to accept it (one being his nephew the late Hon Parekura Horomia) he declined. He had his reasons. But there are two that I will share. One being, he was born with his own mana and title and it is this birth right in itself, and the commitment to his Iwi, that he believed was not a reason to accept a title from the Crown for the mahi he did for Ngati Porou. The other, was he did not walk alone, as there were others who were part of the journey and worked beside him, something he always acknowledged.
Because he was a spirited person and worked at such pace (there was a lot he wanted to achieve), and had an enormous busy schedule he could be quite demanding and one needed to keep up; be available at all times and/ or be one step ahead. He was not one to lag and if he wanted something done or had to deal with a matter he would want it done immediately. There would be a phone call (time was not an issue for uncle as he too, would receive phone calls or visits all hours of the day and night to deal with various kaupapa), and if I didn’t pick up his call the first time, I would certainly know the urgency by the message/s left. Then there was technology – At Porou Ariki as our offices were next door to one another he had his own unique intercom system and rather than ring my extension, I would hear my name being called (though the wall). Uncle endeavoured to keep up with the latest technology, but I say with endearment that there was a lot of patience and frustration explaining to him that it was not the technology that was the problem but as time was not on his side he would revert back to handwriting which was a blessing and created a much less stressful environment. Encouraging him to use an IPhone which would have assisted him in so many ways was not an option, as he would say – “Don’t need it, that’s why I’ve got you”.
Above: Uncle Api relaxing at Gisborne RSA with his nephew the late Parekura Horomia
Our briefing and de-briefing sessions were important to us and these were held at various times of the day and evenings. My favourite session was Fridays from 5.30pm onward/s where we would discuss matters over light refreshments at the Gisborne RSA. So to those, who I said he was unavailable during these times, it was because our meeting times and venue was pre-booked and couldn’t be changed. There was also the notion of flying. He was not one to fly and would often drive the length and breadth of the motu to attend various hui. I would know the status of the flight by the phone call received when he arrived at his destination. When he was chatty – it was a good flight – when not a good flight, by gosh was he grumpy. There was one flight where he was the only passenger going to Wellington. When he rung me he was chuckling and said “I had my own private plane". On departure he heard over the intercom – Dr Mahuika, your private plane is ready to be boarded. Of course this could only happen to Uncle.
Finally, I wish to share with you his own words from a speech he delivered that always inspired me:
“We have solutions to our problems; we are the historians, the philosophy of Ngata, so that we can be in control of our own destiny, if we choose to. By being proactive, we are in command and in control of what was ours and where we want to go to. We are not individuals, we work together collectively in everything we do, because whanau and whanaungatanga and our relationship to one another is actually the driving force, which has allowed us to survive for many years, and will be our surviving point going into the future. This is what Ngata said to us many years ago – “Grow young one for your time and your generation, your hand grasping the knowledge of the Pakeha for your livelihood. Your heart centred on the treasures of your ancestors as a plume for your head...Your spirit to God, as the author of all things”.
Lord, give me the courage to sustain that, which I cannot change. We cannot change the fact that there is Government and Government will continue to make policies for us...we cannot change the ambiguity of who’s my partner in terms of going together in terms of these pathways...we cannot impact and change the whole political scene...those are the things that we cannot change but there are things we can change. Every time you think of a pathway forward, its only you You who can make a difference, its Uncle, only you and us together, that can either ignore policy and develop our own people, the way they should be developed...and if we don’t do that development, knowing the opportunities are in our hands to do it, then you don’t have the courage to change those things that you can change, nor will you have the wisdom to make a difference”.
Moe mai Uncle.
God saw you were getting tired, And a cure was not to be. So He put His arms around you And whispered, "Come To Me." With tearful eyes we Although we loved you dearly, We could not make you stay. A golden heart stopped beating, Hard working hands at rest. God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best.
Albie Mc Farlane
A wakened minds.
B rought people together.
C ommunicated effectively.
D ared to take calculated risks.
E nlightened and empowered.
F ostered relationships.
G ave people the tools to succeed (if he could see potential).
H elped and guided people to think and do things for themselves.
I nvited and encouraged questions.
J oyfully embraced diversity.
K ept an open mind.
L ead by example.
M otivated with respect.
N ever gave up on you.
O pened doors to new worlds.
P ut important things first (although there were many firsts all at the same time)
had the Quest to make learning fun.
R ecognized problems early.
S hared roles and responsibilities.
T ook the time to explain things.
U nwrapped talents and abilities.
V alued everyone's input.
W elcomed mistakes as part of learning.
X ceeded expectations.
Y earned to connect, not correct.
Z est to make a difference.