Motu welcomed on to Ōrākei marae to farewell Joe Hawke

By Tumamao Harawira

Today marked the arrival of the visitors to Ōrākei marae in Tāmaki Makaurau to acknowledge the life and achievements of one of Maōridom's leading modern-day protest voices, Joe Hawke.

Representatives from Kīngitanga and Auckland Council and people from around the country paid their respects to a man who was instrumental in the fight for Māori land rights.

Joe Hawke was a pioneer in the fight for Māori land rights, leading the fight in New Zealand's biggest city, and for Māori from all over the country.

He came to national prominence in 1977 with the reclamation of Tākaparawahau-Bastion Point, which was under attack by the then Muldoon government, which had planned to sell the land to a developer for high-end housing.

Through his actions at Takaparawhau, Hawke became an example for all iwi to follow, Ngāti Wai Trust Board chairman Aperahama Edwards says.

"We saw the effect his stand had on the rest of the country. He reminded us of those words: "If the land is taken, then the land must be returned."

'Understood the injustice'

"He was the champion of Tāmaki. He awakened the Māori world. He stood at the precipice in the fight against injustice perpetrated by the Crown."

Auckland mayor Phil Goff says Hawke understood the injustice that was happening to his people.

"It was Joe's commitment and dedication and determination to override the injustice to Ngāti Whātua who owned 78,000 acres of land in 1840 and were practically landless by the 20th century."

In 1951 the government evicted Ngāti Whātua whanau from their homes in Ōrākei. The land was forcibly seized under the Public Works Act, and the houses and marae were burned down just before the Queen's visit in 1952.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff says it was a turning point for his Labour colleague.

'Firm for his mana motuhake'

"He had seen that injustice, he had witnessed the burning of the marae in Ōkahu Bay and the forceable eviction, under the Public Works Act of his people, and he was determined to do something about that."

Race relations Commissioner Meng Foon was another who came to pay tribute.

"Uncle Joe stood firm for his mana motuhake and the retention of Māori land for the next generation."

The arrival of the Kīngitanga today was special for Mamae Takerei, Kingitanga ruruhi because she said Hawke represented so much of what the Kīngitanga also stood for.

"To retain the land, and to unite the people under the banner of the Kīngitanga was its purpose, and Joe is the embodiment of that."

"With Joe, he put his heart into fighting for this whenua, and so it should be."