Yvonne Tahana: Hard worker who always wore a smile

Parekura Horomia. Photo / NZPA
Parekura Horomia. Photo / NZPA

Parekura Horomia never gave me one good news tip - but he was still one of my favourite people to see on the Maori beat.

Ratana, Waitangi, Koroneihana, these events were the large set pieces of the year. But the ex-Maori affairs minister's annual Maori circuit was much greater than that. Tangi, birthdays, anniversaries, hui for this or that, crises of the day, these were his bread and butter events. They were also over and above his work as Ikaroa-Rawhiti's MP and minister. It was an exhausting workload taking him up and down the country.

But he'd turn up with his smile as wide as his face or with a kind word as the occasion demanded.

Ring him for comment and you'd most likely have to turn it into reported speech to make some sense of it. It drove me mad that he was dead keen on repeating that he was "the most uneducated Education Minister ever", when he held that associate portfolio.

"The matrix of dysfunction" was another I'd not touch with a bargepole, but was part of his charm.

If you'd written something he didn't like or had something juicy about the Maori world he'd shake his head and grin as he shuffled past.

You could ask him what happened in a marae, if you weren't allowed in, but he'd tell you bugger all.

One year, he was on a panel in what's politely known as the political tent at Waitangi but quite often descends into rants from the audience. The MP was a target for heat as it was in the years following the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.

He stood up, said his bit and then sat down and had a nap. The thing was he wasn't making a statement that he couldn't be bothered listening. He was just exhausted. He was a good man and I'll miss him.

- NZ Herald

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