Rātana celebrate the late Hon. Koro Wetere

By Taroi Black

This afternoon the Rātana Church acknowledged the connection between the church and Koro Wetere's political career. He reinforced the Labour Party's longstanding alliance with the Rātana movement and revitalised the party's strong connections with the Kiingitanga.

Former Labour MP and current member of Rātana Mita Ririnui says, “We're come from all corners of the country to pay our respects to Koro.”

Koro Wetere was a former apostille and minister for the Rātana Chruch. During his long service as MP for Western Māori, his political career and faith were unwavering.

Former NZ First Party MP Tukoroirangi Morgan says, “Even though he's from Te Kiingitanga and Rātana his ambition was for Māori equality. He found that through the Treaty of Waitangi.”

Both the Rātana movement and the Kingitanga benefitted from Mr. Wetere's entry into politics in the late 1960's, cementing a connection of Māori solidarity to the Labour-led Government. 

“He carried all our hopes. For our people to speak Māori anywhere and any corner in Parliament. It was hard because Pākēhā were challenging. Some were rednecks and they would never allow us today to speak Māori.”  

“I guess the positives outcomes was the government and the crown working together for the purpose of Māori moving forward. The crown confiscated our lands, Mr. Ririnui said.  

The former Māori politician was carried onto Turangawaewae Marae last night.

Today's procession saw Te Ohu Kaimoana, Tauranga Moana, and other iwi pay their respects.

Mr. Wetere’s relation Tame Iti says, “I was only young when I was at parliament in 1972. I met our Māori MP's of the time, Matiu Rata, Whetu Tirikatene and also the man himself today.”

Tomorrow MPs are expected to attend Mr. Wetere's tangi.