Ngāpuhi kaumātua Nuki Aldridge laid to rest

By Heeni Brown

Eighty-four-year-old Nuki Aldridge is recognised for being a strong Māori rights advocate. Earlier this week the Ngāpuhi kaumātua passed away in Kawakawa hospital and today was laid to rest in his hometown of Kaeo.

Mr Aldridge of Whangaroa is remembered for upholding He Whakaputanga - The Declaration of Independence.

Wiremu Heihei of Ngāti Rēhia says, "For me, he was a man who reverted back to the old ways, and tried his hardest to maintain traditions pre-European, before Government and before the signing in 1835." 

The direct descendant of 1800's Ngāpuhi war chief Hongi Hika advocated that his people of Ngāpuhi did not cede sovereignty to the Crown when the declaration was signed in 1835.

His son Bryce Smith says, "I want to really thank those who have come, all the dignitaries and everyone who has come to help us. People are here mourning for our whānau, our hapū, our tribe and more importantly my father Nuki."

The long-serving member for the Taumata Kaumātua o Ngāpuhi joined the committee to deal with concerns over the Sealord Fisheries Settlement.

Heihei says, "Our leader, when he spoke it was so gentle and he was so humble about what he did. Those who went to listen to what he had to say, well they too could feel that same way about him and that too always remember whenever protesting, make sure it was still passive."

For the last four days, people from all over New Zealand have been paying their respects to Mr Aldridge at his ancestral home of Mangaiti Marae.

Smith says, "Consistently from day one, the aroha that's been coming, huge numbers. The Marae is full at every karanga and it's been really beautiful for the whānau to see and for some of my whānau, now they know who their father was."