“He was a rockstar kaumātua” - Whānau remember “Jimmy” Brennan

updated By Mare Haimona-Riki

The body of “Jimmy” Brennan (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa) remains in a Christchurch funeral home after his passing last Sunday. It was a decision that was not easy for his son Aoraki Brennan and whānau to make.

Of the three options that were presented to Brennan's whānau, they collectively opted for refrigeration - with the intentions of having a proper tangihanga for him after lockdown rules are lifted.

For now, the whānau pay homage to their kaumātua through a photograph and pounamu.

“To be honest, we are not happy with any of those options, but we chose the best one of what we had.

“We thought it wasn't fair on the community to not be able to say their goodbyes you know? He served the people here for 40 years of his life,” Aoraki says.

Koroheke Pohomare Hōnore Brennan, known as "Jimmy" passed on Sunday 29 March - File / Supplied

Jimmy was a well-respected leader of his hapū of Kāi Tūāhuriri and a well-known musician and carver nationwide, who had open arms to people from all walks of life, his whānau says.

“We had everyone from politicians to gang members walk through our door. It didn't matter; they were all welcome in our house.” 

“He was a rockstar kaumātua, he played music for the first half of his life and then got into Māoritanga later on,” Aoraki says.

Jimmy was also the longest standing Māori Alcoholics Anonymous member in the country.

“One of the biggest things I could vouch for my dad is that he went sober. For 40 years!”

The mauri of Jimmy is currently being kept in this photograph and pounamu. Source / provided

Whānau members have explained the significance of the pounamu and photograph in which they have transferred Jimmy's mauri (life force) from the body to these tāonga. 

“We were worried about his wairua getting lost, not transferring over - so we had karakia done to seal that body off and the body was taken away and we put the pictures home.”

The whānau eagerly awaits the end of lockdown to lay Matua Jimmy to rest with his tūpuna.