One of Māoridom's greatest legal minds and the backbone behind the establishment of the Māori Party - former Māori Land Court judge Ken (Heta) Hingston - has died.
He died at his home on Sunday, the day after his 82nd birthday.
Hingston was a man who called it how he saw it and his passion for what he believed in was such, he helped set up the Māori Party when iwi took exception to the Foreshore and Seabed legislation in 2004.
Former Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said "it was basically Heta's pen that wrote the party's constitution".
Hingston was awarded a New Year Honour in 2015 for his many years of service to Māori and the judiciary.
He was made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order in honour of his legal career spanning 40 years.
He was a judge of the Māori Land Court for 15 years and prior to that was legal adviser for the New Zealand Māori Council, the Te Arawa Māori Trust Board and the Tūhoe/Waikaremoana Māori Trust Board.
He was counsel for Ngāti Pikiao for the Kaituna River Claim and for the Māori landowners in the Rangatira Block Royal Commission.
Hingston worked as a judge of the Cook Islands High Court and Court of Appeal and the Chief Justice of the High Court of Niue. These appointments were in tandem with his Māori Land Court work.
He was involved with the incorporation of the Te Arawa Māori Returned Services League following two tours of duty in the jungles of Malaya in which he carried the rank of Corporal 1st class.
He is most notably recognised as the judge who made the initial decision on Māori ownership of the foreshore and seabed, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2003.
He told the Rotorua Daily Post in 2015 he was 75 when he retired from being a judge and at the time was a bit annoyed at being told he was "too old". But he said in hindsight it had been a good decision as he had worked all his life for other people and it was finally time to have some time to himself.
Hingston was a trustee of the New Zealand Community Trust in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions, the Whakaue Charitable Trust in Rotorua and a trust member of Te Whare Wananga o Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa.
Flavell said Hingston was responsible for him stepping into politics and standing in the Waiariki electorate, a seat Flavell held between 2005 and 2017.
He said Hingston shoulder-tapped his wife, who happened to be Hingston's niece, not long after the party formed encouraging Flavell to standing in Waiariki.
Flavell told him if he could prove he had support, he would do it.
"Three days later he came back with 100 signatures and the rest is history."
"He had a unique way of doing things and was very black and white. Things were either right or wrong. He had a great sense of social justice so when the foreshore and seabed issue landed in front of him it was a turning point.
The Māori Party issued a statement this morning saying it was saddened at the loss of one of its founding leaders.
Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said: "Judge Heta is synonymous with
the mobilisation of our movement."
She said his ruling that the Māori Land Court had jurisdiction to consider whether the foreshore and seabed was Māori customary land was a milestone in political history.
"I remember he spoke at one of the earliest hui at Turangawaewae in May 2004, immediately following the hīkoi, as Māori across Aotearoa came together to form the Māori Party."
John Tamihere, Māori Party co-leader, also noted the distinguished legal career that
Judge Hingston has held spanning over four decades.
Tamihere said his "auspicious background" stood him in good stead.
"You had to be very clear of your facts before you ever debated an issue with the judge. He had a formidable knowledge, he was courageous and demonstrated compelling
logic, whether in the court or just in conversation. He certainly didn't suffer fools
lightly – I greatly admired his forthright manner.
"We are eternally gratefully for his words, his wisdom and his wealth of experience that he shared so generously with us all," Tamihere said.
"Our hearts are with his iwi (Tūwharetoa, Whānau-ā-Apanui); his beloved darling,
Makoha, his nine children, mokopuna and mokopuna tuarua; and the peoples of Te
Arawa where he has lived for the majority of his life. He was also loved by the people
of Rarotonga where he and his family have spent many wonderful holidays over
recent years, enjoying the luxury of time and space in their island paradise. Moe
mai e te Rangatira."
His body was taken to Rongomaipāpā Marae at Horohoro yesterday and his service will be on Wednesday at 1pm.
Ken (Heta) Hingston
* Born in Rotorua, 1938
* Māori Land Court judge 1984 to 1999
* Legal adviser for the New Zealand Māori Council, the Te Arawa Māori Trust Board and the Tūhoe/Waikaremoana Māori Trust Board
* Made the initial decision on Māori ownership of the foreshore and seabed
* Made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for services to Māori and the judiciary
* Died Sunday, August 9, 2020.