Joe Hawke famously fought successive governments on land issues and won and today Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern paid tribute to the formidable leader who died in the weekend.
“Through moments in New Zealand's history, we saw Joe demonstrate how it is you can send a strong message with huge integrity, with huge mana,” she said.
A relentless leader of the people, he served as an MP from 1996 - 2002 for Labour. Labour cabinet minister Peeni Henare says his connection to Hawke was not only through political affiliation but through whakapapa as well.
"Te taima i tū au hei mema paremata mo Tāmaki Makaurau, ko ia tetahi kaumātua i tautoko i ahau me taku whānau i te tūranga nei".
“The time I stood for MP for Auckland - he was one of the elders who endorsed me and my whānau to go for the seat,” he said.
He got into the House on the list for Labour following a tough and unsuccessful battle for the Te Tai Tokerau seat against Tau Henare. Jacinda Ardern admired his all-round skills and commended him for his contribution to New Zealand.
Revered for lifelong fight
“He didn't just demonstrate that political leadership in here he did it day to day in all of the mahi that he did. It's often not an easy thing to walk in both worlds,” she said.
Henare says Hawke was revered for his lifelong fight for land rights, taking that fight to the House, and getting some gains from his time in Parliament.
“I taua tāima rā torutoru ngā Māori i roto i te whare pāremata. Koia tetahi e kōkiri mārika ana i ngā take whenua.”
“At that time there weren't many Māori in Parliament but he still fought for land rights."
His final words remain etched in Henare’s mind, a legacy that the Tāmaki Makaurau MP will continue to uphold:
“Tana kōrero whakamutunga ki a au nei e rua tau ki muri hei tāna, me mate ki mua mo te oranga o to tāua iwi te take.”
“His final words to me two years ago were - plough ahead to achieve well being for our people."
A government delegation will head to Orākei Marae to farewell the kaumatua in the coming days.