Friend, colleague and ally Te Ururoa Flavell is shattered at the premature passing of iwi leader and tribal ambassador Te Awanuiarangi (Awanui) Black.
"Te Awanuiarangi was driven by an internal fire, burning within, which compelled him to make a difference in every sphere of his life," said the Maori Party co-leader.
"I loved him dearly, and I cannot believe he is no longer with us. As I prepare to go to the Iwi Chairs Forum today, I'm truly devastated to be carrying the loss of someone so precious with me into a gathering where I know many will be absolutely distraught by his death," said Mr Flavell, who is also MP of the Waiariki district.
As a son of Ngāti Pukenga, Ngāi Te Rangi, Waitaha, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Raukawa ki Ōtaki, Te Awanuiarangi was a highly respected leader and a dedicated champion for his people.
... I'm truly devastated to be carrying the loss of someone so precious with me ...
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"Awanui had the courage and the commitment to stand and represent his people wherever he heard the call. He was a champion of so many things for our people and I could never comprehend how he managed to be in so many places at the same time.
"But as diverse and comprehensive as the scope of his work was, today we feel particularly for all those who loved him as a Papa, a partner, a brother, a son," said Mr Flavell.
Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said the party was very proud that Te Awanuiarangi chose to stand for it in 2008 and 2011, both for the Tauranga electorate, and on the list.
"He was an ardent supporter, an energetic party strategist and an enthusiastic ideator, always creating new scenarios and policy ideas to take the campaign in new directions," said Ms Fox.
I loved him dearly, and I cannot believe he is no longer with us.
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"I knew of his remarkable reputation in education long before I met him.
"I'm sure that in the national gathering of iwi leaders over these next few days, there'll be much sadness at the loss of someone so instrumental in advancing iwi opportunities across so many sectors."
Mr Flavell said the Māori Party wept particularly for his darling daughter Parearau, who worked for him and for Dr Pita Sharples for many years, in the early years of the party.
"Parearau and her brothers and sisters are very much in our hearts as we mourn the loss of this amazing man. We know their father will be forever cherished not only in the legacy he leaves but also in the distinctive ways he has shaped their character and their passion for life. Our love goes out to them all at this time of such sadness."
Te Awanuiarangi's extensive contribution to te ao Māori included:
Te Reo Māori:
• Serving as a commissioner on Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission)
• Being a writer of He Pātaka Kupu, the first comprehensive monolingual Māori language dictionary
• Authoring language revitalisation plans for his iwi
• Composing traditional literature and promoting and preserving te reo Māori in every setting, particularly his own home and marae
• Facilitating the new Māori language entity for Te Mātāwai for the Bay of Plenty
• Lecturing and coordinating Māori medium teacher education at Te Wānanga o Raukawa in Ōtaki
• Lecturering at the Waikato Tainui College for Research and Development and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa
• Being a leader of Ngā Kaikōkiri Mātauranga- Iwi Advocate for Education which was mandated by 57 iwi - all whom were actively engaged in education activities. Ngā Kaikōkiri Mātauranga was subsequently adopted by the Iwi Leaders Forum to progress the education stream.
• Sharing his extensive knowledge generously, whether it was about Matariki, the history of land occupation at Welcome Bay or general proposals for changing the world for the better
• Elected member of Bay of Plenty Regional Council for the 10th Triennium 2016 - 2019; and being chair of the council's Komiti Māori
• Chair of Te Moana a Toi Leaders Forum (representative for Ngāti He, Maungatapu on the Ngāi Te Rangi Trust)
• Elected member for Mauao Māori constituency in which he led the special Memorandum of Understanding between Tauranga City Council and the historic mountain reserve Mauao
• He was also influential in the regional council's integration of tikanga Māori and was behind the council's adoption of its Māori name, Toi Moana.
• Leading the iwi response to the 2011 Rena disaster for well over two years
• Being on the committee for Toi Māori Aotearoa
• Being involved in Te Tuinga Whānau, a free social work, advocacy, information and support service to everyone regardless of ethnicity
• Helping to compose Te Peruperu a Pukehinahina for the 150th Commemoration of the Battle of Gate Pā; and leading that commemoration
• Just a few months ago, he presented to the Grand Round of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board about te reo Māori as rongoā for the health and wellbeing of iwi