Prayers from afar for Paddy Whiu

Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira used his first speech in the House for the new year to pay tribute to the "gentle, caring, smiling face" of the New Zealand police, who is gravely ill at his home at Waipapa.

Northland police iwi liaison officer Paddy Whiu, who has served in Kaeo, Kaikohe, Whangarei and Wellington, among other places, fell ill shortly before Christmas.

Mr Harawira told Parliament it was a rare occurrence for him to send best wishes to a policeman, but he suspected many others around the country would join him in wishing Mr Whiu all the best.

"Paddy has become the face of Maori policing and iwi liaison, the gentle, caring, and smiling face of a police force that is often mistrusted and sometimes reviled in Maori communities," he said.

"At times when tensions are high and people's emotions are on edge, Paddy has that unique ability to lower the heat through his simple good nature, kind words and warm humour. Kia kaha, my friend, we are all praying for you."

Meanwhile tributes have been paid from near and far, including one from a reformed gang member.

"Tena koe, my friend," he wrote on the Northern Advocate's Facebook page. "As the years rolled on we put aside our differences and recognised the good in each other. Get well soon Rangatira."

- Northland Age

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