James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Royal patriarch is laid to rest beside his Queen

Whatumoana Paki. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Whatumoana Paki. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Whatumoana Paki had a favourite saying he would often use when working on a project in his garage, on his marae or around the home.

"He would say that everything comes down to common sense," said his son Maharaia Paki.

"He was always working on something in the garage and if he got stuck he would go and see someone and talk to them or track down the part he needed and then he would come back and fix it himself."

Yesterday, Whatumoana Paki, father of King Tuheitia and husband of the late Queen Te Atairangikaahu, arrived at the foot of his final resting place, Taupiri Mountain, in a 1930 Model A Ford he had helped to restore.

Maharaia Paki said it was a fitting send-off for his father, who was a mechanic "by reputation" and would fix his grandchildren's cars if they asked him.

"He restored an old 1952 Chrysler and you know who it belonged to? Princess Te Puea," he said.

"He was always fixing things, and I mean anything. We grew up with patches on seats because he wouldn't replace them if he could repair them - that was the kind of man he was."

Earlier, a large crowd that included dignitaries from Hawaii, Rarotonga and Samoa and Maori politicians gathered at Waahi Pa, Huntly, for the funeral service.

The gathering heard how Whatumoana Paki, who was 84, was a master of trades who was as comfortable digging drains out the back of his marae as he was dining with foreign leaders. His grandson Whatumoana Paki jnr said he worked in the coalmines around Huntly with three of his brothers but was also noted for his skills as a farmer, a carpenter and as an electrician.

"He loved any job that brought sweat to his brow," he said.

Marcus Akuhata-Brown said in his eulogy that Mr Paki was a humble man and when Te Atairangikaahu ascended to the throne after the death of her father, King Koroki, in 1966, he was told to be the backbone of the Maori Queen but not to make statements in public. It was a role he filled with a quiet dignity and great affection for hiswife. "Because Pop didn't speak in public it didn't mean he didn't have things to say," Mr Akuhata-Brown said.

"He spoke of many things close to his heart but most of all it was his whanau that he spoke of most."

After the funeral, taiaha-wielding warriors escorted Mr Paki's body from the marae to the home he helped to build at Waahi Pa.

Then he was taken to some of his favourite places around Huntly.

Mr Paki, of Ngati Whawhakia and Te Aupouri descent, was a father to seven children. He was laid to rest on the upper slopes of Taupiri next to Dame Te Ata, who died in 2006.

- NZ Herald

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