National MP's criticism of gang tangi in Hawke's Bay aimed to 'gain political mileage'

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Hastings Mongrel Mob life member John Nepe Apatu has condemned National MP Simeon Brown's comments on social media over the tangihanga of a local gang member.

The body of one of the captains of the Hawkes Bay Chain dogs, a chapter of the Notorious Mongrel Mob, was taken to Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga as the place for his final farewell.

I tae ā tinana mai te motu katoa o to mātou nei iwi, whānau whero. Ko te take, he rangatira nui rawa atu ia i waenga nui i a mātou te iwi whero.

“There were many who attended from across the country - our red mob, The reason was that he was a high-ranking member in our mob,” he said.

The request to have the tangi at the school was from the deceased's three children, all of whom are students of the school. Thus was something the school agreed to – with guidance from the Ministry of Education

Schoolteacher Rongopai Kira says that, although the school was technically shut, the lessons and knowledge that the students learned over the course of the tangi were abundant.

“Mena ka hoki mātou ki te taha mātauranga Māori. Ko tō mātou ake tangihanga, hui mate te puna o te mātauranga te puna o te mōhio. Mena e ako ana ngā tamariki ērā kōrero, ngā kupu nga mōteatea era tikanga katoa, nā taua marae i te wā o ngā hui mate.

Good source of knowledge

“If we take a good look at Māori knowledge we will see that funerals are the key area where Māori knowledge can be found. The children will learn the words of the traditional songs and customs at the marae during the funeral,” he said.

National Law and order spokesperson Simeon Brown took to social media sharing his concerns about the funeral that was held at the school.

“Of course I have the deepest sympathy for the family but I also want the government to answer my questions which are whether it's acceptable for schools to be shut down and for students not to be going to school due to the fact that a gang have used a school for a tangi,” he said

However, the kura board chair is confident the MP’s comments ignore the value of tikanga Māori.

“Our kaupapa is about awhi, our tamariki and our whānau. This is about our people. Not about an MP that's trying to get mileage out of creating divisions in the community and pushing his kaupapa. This is about our tamariki and how we embrace and look after our kura whānau.”