Hundreds turn out to farewell one of NZ's greatest activists

By Imran Ali -
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The tangi of Sir Graham Latimer at Te Paatu Marae in Pamapuria, south of Kaitaia. Photo / Debbie Beadle
The tangi of Sir Graham Latimer at Te Paatu Marae in Pamapuria, south of Kaitaia. Photo / Debbie Beadle

Revered Maori leader Sir Graham Latimer was farewelled by hundreds of mourners at a funeral in Northland yesterday.

Whanau, friends and prominent New Zealanders were among those who gathered for a church service at Te Paatu Marae in Pamapuria, south of Kaitaia. His body was then taken to the Tarakaka Urupa, 600m away, with hundreds of mourners in tow.

Parliamentarians and members of the Defence Force were among those who turned up to pay their respects.

Sir Graham, one of the first members of the Waitangi Tribunal, died at his Pamapuria home on Tuesday at the age of 90 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

The church service was led by Reverend Te Kitohi Pikaahu, the Bishop of Tai Tokerau.

Speeches were made by the chairman of the New Zealand Maori Council, Sir Taihakurei Durie, his co-chair Maanu Paul, and James Eruera of Ngapuhi Nui Tonu.

A message was read on behalf of Prime Minister John Key and the Crown was represented by National MPs Shane Reti and Chester Borrows. Labour's Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis also attended.

Sir Graham was described as the greatest activist this country has had, and his contribution to the lives of not only Maori but all New Zealanders was highlighted.

Sir Graham, they said, took risks by mortgaging his farm to achieve better outcomes for his people and was relentless in his effort to promote te reo Maori.

His coffin was put on a waka and transported at walking pace to the urupa where he was to be laid to rest after a short service. Sir Graham is survived by five children and many mokopuna.

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