Mayor of Napier Kirsten Wise took time out from her council's annual plan hearings today to join the farewells for social justice warrior Minnie Ratima as a tangi ended 30km away at Tangoio Marae.
The appearance of the city leader, as the final service was forced indoors by the rain, was a fitting tribute on behalf of a city, particularly amid a new wave of pandemic that had arisen hundreds of kilometres away overnight.
Outside the wharenui Te Punanga Te Wao, beside State Highway 2 between Napier and Wairoa, dozens sheltered from the rain largely unable to hear the final tributes from within, but otherwise in an apt setting of a mist enshrouding hills and trees nearby in nature's own capturing of the moment.
Bidding farewell as mourners gathered in the wharekai for the hakari, the mayor and councillor Sally Crown rushing to rejoin the team at the council table, Wise said she'd known Ratima only the last three to four years.
Ratima's advocacy had started about the council, as she called on it to take greater responsibility for housing and other social issues in the city.
But there was something different which stood Ratima out from some others who seek to challenge the councillors and their mayor.
"We became quite good friends," Wise said.
Friends and family had been passing through the marae ever since Ratima was carried through the waharoa and onto the paepae on Monday afternoon, the day after she had finally succumbed to a terminal illness and passed away at her home in Marewa, aged 56.
There was a big turnout from the Maraenui community where she grew up, a former state ward and runaway who turned the corner to take on the system that had so let herself, friends and family down, and motivated everyone – "the whole of Maraenui", as one long-time friend put it, to stand-up to bring about some change.
She would be recognised by successive councillors, the Prime Minister and ultimately by wider Hawke's Bay, leading among other things to her recognition, from community nominations, as Hawke's Bay Today Hawke's Bay Person of the Year in 2017.