Joseph Parata Hohepa Hawke (MNZM) was the face of a new resurgence in lifting the way Māori viewed themselves and what they were capable of.
The 1970s was an awakening time in Aotearoa for many reasons, like being involved in foreign wars not of our making, such as Vietnam, and losing 90 per cent of our export market when the UK joined the European Economic Community. As a consequence we had to redetermine and redefine ourselves as a nation in Oceania and Asia.
Simultaneously there was this massive awakening in the Māori community that the way we had been and continued to be treated was unacceptable. It was followed up by the language petition hikoi to Wellington, where our people started to organise a stronger protest movement around the country.
These things shaped myself and revived a lot of Māori who were realising that we had every right as an indigenous community to be whatever we wanted as an indigenous person, rather than becoming someone's clone.
Bastion Point was a juncture following the 1975 land march led by Dame Whina Cooper.
In 1977 I left school to have a gap year. While working, I was on the periphery but I would go up on occasions to witness the protest. I was definitely not there when Bastion Point was raided by the New Zealand Army and the NZ Police.
That was without a doubt one of the lowest points in New Zealand domestic political history in terms of race relations. It was May 25, 1978 when the legal occupation of ancestral land was illegally disrupted: 222 people were arrested, including Joe. It is a coincidence of time befitting the theatre of the man that he gets buried on the 40th anniversary of the outrageous actions perpetrated on him and his people by the state.
In 1978 I was still coming to terms with liberating myself to be a part of the struggle. A year later I started Auckland University and it was buzzing because most Māori becoming activists were at that campus at that time. Hilda Halkyard, who married Hone Harawira to become Hilda Halkyard-Harawira, Donna Awatere - a lot of very strong female voices set the background for our activism, but it needed a person like Joe Hawke to anchor it.
I first met Joe up close and personal a year after the protest was brought to a halt. His family had been cruelly targeted by the state, harassed by welfare if they were on a benefit and the tax department if they were self-employed, all because they stood up for their principles.
Joe was also the first Māori to take a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal and have it heard, but he was ordered out of the Hyatt Regency as the judge refused to not only accept that the law had changed, but that the Treaty of Waitangi Act even existed.
Despite not being a scholar, Joe was a precedent-maker. He had this innate sense of himself and was relentless about the injustices that his people suffered. On a number of occasions he slept on the floor with us at our student flat because he was worn out and tired.
After Bastion Point, Joe became the nemesis of Robert Muldoon. This nobody, this uneducated Māori tane getting the best of the PM in his prime was an outstanding testimony to Joe's determination.
Then he was instrumental in the 1992 settlement of all the railways land which has set a multi-million dollar operation in place now for his people. In fact they will be the most successful and wealthiest hapu and iwi in the country due to his endurance.
It goes without saying that you can't mention Joe Hawke without acknowledging his incredible wife, Rene Hawke (née Noda Thompson). Rene is a strong and capable wāhine who perservered with him throughout it all and I think without that support Joe would have struggled.
Joe and I then came together when I entered Parliament, becoming Chair of the Māori Affairs Select Committee which he was a member of. We would meet every Tuesday morning at 9:30am in his office to work through the agenda before we went to the Select Committee at 10:00am.
He was alive to see the 2013 settlement of Ngāti Whātua, which was superior to the one in 1978 and more significant than the 1992 settlement.
I have known Joe's deepest darkest moments and his most successful moments, which came later in his life. He was an outstanding and driven leader upon whose shoulders the others stood.
Finally I'll say: for the first time in voting history Bastion Point voted for Te Pāti Māori. That took time to happen as they are the kaitiakitanga of the bones of Michael Joseph Savage who was revered by everyone, including my parents. The nation saw him as one of the founding fathers of the type of Aoteaora that we all wanted and continue to strive for.
So Michael Joseph Savage is buried up there and Joe is fitting in our historical journey in breaking the back of many difficult issues that he should and will be acknowledged for in many years to come.
His final legacy is the liberation of his people, who finally found themselves able to vote for another party other than the Labour Party.
John Tamihere is a former Labour Cabinet Minister and Chief Executive of Whānau Ora and West Auckland Urban Māori organisation Te Whānau o Waipareira.