Former Māori All Black Ruruarau Heitia Hiha laid to rest

By Talisa Kupenga

Former All Black Ruruarau Heitia Hiha has been laid to rest in Hawkes Bay. He passed away Wednesday aged 85-years-old.

A final farewell for the beloved leader Ruruarau Hiha.

Son Shane Hiha says "He'll be remembered for his respect for other people. He touched a lot of people and everybody who talks about him, who has met him, they say that he's such a humble respectful man."

Kaumātua Matiu Eru says "He had so many skills and qualities. He had them all."

A kaumātua and educationalist Hiha met his wife Margaret at Ardmore Teachers College. They married in 1954, the same year he became a Māori All Black.

Hiha says "When he did finish rugby he was passionate about following and supporting my mother in her hockey, mum played for NZ hockey and for Hawkes Bay for many many years and I always remember when I was young dad would be on the sideline yelling out for Hawkes Bay and really giving it full voice."  

An officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori, he was key to the Wai 55 Claim to Napier's inner harbour. With a deed of settlement in place, final settlement awaits more than twenty years after rulings in the claimants' favour.”

Hiha says "there is a group of people working really hard to get it across the line finally, unfortunately it didn't happen before he passed away."

Eru says "He lived to keep busy and he has laid a foundation and shown us the way, now it's for us who are left behind to finish what he started."

Hiha lay in state at Pukemokimoki marae but was born here at Petane Marae which awaits a rebuild. He acknowledged the place he grew up on his final journey.

Eru says "You could say he is the last person to have held all the knowledge from Hawkes Bay because he was the one who collated all the histories."

Hiha's final resting place is at Petane Marae cemetery.