A strong kind and caring leader - that is how devout mōrehu and MP Rino Tirikatene describes Harerangi Meihana.
“I remember him in his church committee role, as a young child sitting through many hui whakapūmau,” he said.
Meihana, the grandson of church founder Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana. was a union man and strong Labour supporter.
Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson says he was an understated leader who was admired by his people
“He was a loving man, who focused on whānau and focused on his faith. The legacy that he leaves behind is his steadfast approach to the kaupapa that was left by his grandfather.”
“He always maintained his strength and love for God and the teachings of the māramatanga of his grandfather,” he said.
Rino is a part of the Tirikatene dynast, which has held the Southern Māori seat in Parliament since 1935, a legacy through the Rātana faith that he says will carry on.
“My poua, Sir Eruera Tirikātene, was the first independent Rātana MP for Southern Māori and that led to the alliance with Michael Joseph Savage in 1935 with the first Labour government. Those connections remain strong today.”
The history between Labour and Te Hāhi Rātana goes deep - a relationship that the Māori caucus celebrates and strengthens.
Minister Kiritapu Allan is a follower of the faith and, with many other mōrehu, sees today as a sad day.
“There are four of us who are morehu. We were raised as morehu, so this has a huge impact for us as a caucus but acknowledging a role that Hare has played as the tumuaki for our hāhi.”
His tūpāpāku will return to Rātana Pā this evening. No reira e kara, e Harerangi, moe mai rā.