Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Parekura Horomia remembered in Parliament

Members of Parliament have dedicated the day to sharing their memories of Labour MP Parekura Horomia, telling tales from about his manner of speaking to the notes he passed to National's Gerry Brownlee.

Mr Horomia died a week ago today and it is the first time Parliament has met since then. About 120 friends and family have travelled to Wellington for the day and were sitting in the public gallery to watch, many from Hauiti Marae where Mr Horomia's tangi was held.

Shane Jones sang a waiata he had composed for Mr Horomia, whom he described as one of his best friends and his closest colleague in Parliament. He also recalled campaiging for Labour's leader David Shearer during the Mt Albert by-election in 2009, a tale in which Mr Horomia sent him and Kelvin Davis doorknocking. Mr Jones was confronted by a massive dog while Mr Horomia "sensing the fishheads cooking, he became positively athletic" and marched in to eat. "Such is the randomness of politics that a bit later, Parekura was in Hawaiki, Kelvin was

unemployed, Shanes Jones was in the crap, and David Shearer was the leader." He ended with a message for Mr Horomia's children: "Know this. Your father once told me people will forget what you say, and even what you do. But they will never forget how you make them feel."

As well as the party leaders, it was a chance for MPs who had not been able to speak during the tangi to talk.

Annette King said although many people had told Mr Horomia to retire and go home his health deteriorate, but she said he had never wanted to leave.

"This place was where he did his magic. He wanted to die in this job and he did."

Annette King said that as Health Minister, she was dispatched by Helen Clark to talk about his weight. She ordered him to join Weightwatchers.

"He became a weight watcher by correspondence. It was a mission impossible. I'm so glad his cardiologist did not know I was his health mentor or he might not have got such good service because I was the one who backed into Dr Abernathy's new Jaguar."

She ended with a message for Shane Jones, saying Mr Horomia had an important part in Labour: "Shane, he has passed the baton onto you and I know you will honour his memory and the work he did."

National MP Gerry Brownlee recalled the notes Mr Horomia had sent across to him in Parliament. He said during the Parliamentary Prayer, Mr Horomia would sit with one eye shut and the other roving around the chamber. "And if you saw that eye, he would send you a note saying 'I notice you didn't have your eyes shut through the prayer. That's very disrespectful."

Labour leader David Shearer recalled Mr Horomia bowling into his office, and having his say while others waiting for appointments sat outside. Moana Mackey, who worked closely with Mr Horomia and shared an office, spoke about his efforts to hoodwink the whips into giving him leave, saying the day Air New Zealand began extra flights between Gisborne and Wellington was "a bad day for Parekura."

Act leader John Banks gave a touching tribute, saying Mr Horomia had shown that no matter how humble somebody's background was, it was possible to achieve anything through hard work. "In the end, all that matters is that your family loves you. And your family loved you."

Prime Minister John Key told again of his shared appreciation for 'made-up words" with Mr Horomia, as well as acknowledging the importance of Mr Horomia in Parliament, saying he was not only Labour's kaumatua but Parliament's. "Parekura had that rare ability to bridge the political divide. It was very special and rare to find."

Others also referred to Mr Horomia's "elliptical" speech. Mr Brownlee said he had once asked what Mr Horomia meant in the midst of the bureaucratic garble. "He said 'it means we're doing good."' Hekia Parata, Mr Horomia's cousin, said Mr Horomia's manner of speaking was known in his home town as "Pare-phrasing."

Many MPs also thanked those in the Public Gallery for the tangi they had hosted. Mr Horomia's usual seat had a bouquet of flowers on it, beside his photo and MPs were also given a single flower each to place on the seat at the end of the sitting.


Ko te uranga o te Ra
Terenga waka torangapu
He waihoe tuku iho
Ko Apirana kei te ihu
Ko Parekura kei te rapa.

E Hina i te po hutea
E Tama te painaina
Hei a wai te hoe a Pare
Haupu a tini moehewa
He waka utanga kaita

E ahu ki te pae o te rangi
Ma te tai a Paikea - ariki
Te Matau a Maui tikitiki
Te Upoko o te Ikaroa
Tena te ripo kawanatanga.

Nana te ohaki whakarere
Whangaia a pipi patere
Kia ngata, kia mapuapua
Aue e Pare ngakaunui
E whakawairua kau iho.

Under a rising sun
A waka appears
A time-worn journey.
Apirana is at the prow,
Parekura at the stern.

Moon goddess of pale light
Sun god, we feel your heat.
Who takes Pare's challenge?
Driven by great dreams
His is a waka of legacy.

Fix your course
By the tides of Paikea
Past the Hook of Maui
To the Head of the fish
Where power swirls.

Your departing words:
Feed the little ones
To grow and flourish
Pare, of great heart
Your spirit enjoins us.

- NZ Herald

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