Friends and philosophical foes alike mourn the passing of Dr Apirana Mahuika.
Dr Apirana Mahuika was a man of great conviction and like his maunga, Hikurangi, immovable in his beliefs. His staunch and unrelenting Naati- centric worldview earned him many admirers, and just as many critics.
As Justice Joe Williams pointed out in his whaikorero, some of those at the receiving end of Dr Mahuika’s indifference included the legal system for interfering with Ngati Porou’s mana motuhake over its lands and taonga; Te Kohanga Reo for not doing enough to promote the Ngati Porou dialect; Maori Television for broadcasting a reo foreign to his Ngati Porou ears; and Te Taura Whiri. His battles with the latter over te reo Maori revitalisation is the stuff of legend – which is why the the sight of language gurus Wharehuia Milroy and Timoti Karetu in particular was indeed a welcome one.
Above: Justice Joe Williams shares a moment with Mataanuku Mahuika.
In his farewell tribute Ngapuhi’s Sonny Tau proclaimed, to raucous laughter, that it was the first time Ngapuhi and Tuhoe had agreed to come together to celebrate Apirana Mahuika. And Kingitanga stalwart Rahui Papa summed it up well, “Ko tana upoko maro he rite ki tona maunga, e kore e nekeneke!”. Dr Mahuika may have refused to relinquish his mana tuku iho to that of kings or queens, but this did not stop King Tuheitia and a huge Waikato-Tainui entourage from coming to the mountain of a man that was Apirana Mahuika.
When an opponent falls, who then is worthy enough to replace him? This week Dr Mahuika is being mourned by friend and philosophical foe alike. That is the mark of a true rangatira.