Northland Mourns Pita Paraone

By Piripi Taylor

Pita Paraone is being mourned at home at Mōtatau Marae in Northland among his people of Ngāti Te Tarawa.  Tears fall for his early passing. 

Orators have been lamenting Paraone through the night and day, his people still coming to terms with his sudden death on Monday after complications from heart surgery.  A condition he hid from his people.

Ngāti Hine spokesperson and close relative, Waihoroi Shortland says they are deeply affected by his passing.

"He died fulfilling the wishes of his people, that's what is so heartbreaking to reflect on right now."

The pathway to Manu Korokī has swelled with mourners from throughout the North coming to pay their respects.

Former Minister of Māori Affairs, Dover Samuels was among them. 

"We served in parliament together and, while we were adversaries, what is important to note was his aspirations for his people of Ngāpuhi, of Northland and for Māori across the country."

Paraone is yet another respected leader from the great garden of Hineāmaru, who achieved so much for the benefit of his people.

Shortland recalls how Paraone secured fishing rights for his tribe.

"One might come here and ask, 'where are your interests in fisheries?', well, Ngāti Hine appointed him and his relation Erima [Henare] to go and contest those rights and succeeded."

"He had the ability to assuage his people of Ngāpuhi," added Samuels.

"It is known that some would cause major disruption around Waitangi Day.  He saw the need to ensure the integrity of Waitangi Day by moving all official ceremonies to the whare rūnanga."

While the corners of a house are seen, not so are the corners of the heart. 

"He was the one who guided me on the day I married my wife," says Shortland.

"He honoured us both that day.  Of all the things he did in this world, that will always my most cherished memory of him."

Ngāti Hine kuia, Mangaiti Shortland also shed tears for Paraone.

"I'm deeply saddened at his passing.  I can find solace though in the fact that he is being celebrated here and will be laid to rest here."

Tomorrow, the funeral service for Paraone will begin at midday on his beloved marae before he will be taken the burial place of his ancestors to his final resting place alongside his mother.