Hobart wahine’s dying wish fulfilled by local whānau

By Will Trafford

A wahine Māori trapped in Tasmania due to Covid-19 restrictions says she’s been overwhelmed by the generosity of a local whānau to fulfill her dying wish.

Anahuia left Aotearoa in the 1970s but having recently received a terminal prognosis she told the ABC she had one last wish, a hāngī.

Despite not being immersed in Tasmania’s Māori community, Anahuia says offers to help flooded an appeal on social media.

"Within a few clicks of that iPad thing I got a response straight away," she said.

The tāne who sprung into action was Sean McCann, who told the ABC he had no choice but to step up.

"You obviously look after everyone but you have to look after Māori, that's what we do," he said.

McCann says he initially thought he’d put down a ‘small’ hāngī for Anahuia but "it didn't end up like that", he joked.

Before long he’d heard from 34 others who wanted to get involved; that rose to 55 by the weekend.

McCann says he ended up laying down 17 kilograms of pork, 13 kgs of lamb, 8 kgs of chicken, and 12 kgs of kūmara, as well as other vegetables at 5 a.m. He was still cooking at 2:30 a.m the next day.

"The only thing going through my head was, 'Is this going to cook properly?'" he said.

Anahuia says she “teared up” when Sean dropped by with the kai. “It brought back so many memories," she said.

"You can't find that smell and taste in any other foods anywhere — it's unique to the hāngī,"

From her hospital bed, Anahuia says she’s grateful for the generosity of her new extended whānau and her re-emersion into te ao Māori.

“Life is too short and I'll be making the most of it, and staying in contact with all these beautiful people," she said.

Anahuia is also hopeful when Covid restrictions lift, she’ll be healthy enough to come home one last time.

"I try to be happy, enjoy the last moments, not be sad, and just hopefully spread that around… I've worked hard all my life and I just want some peace and happiness now," she said.