Tauranga Moana mourn the loss of community leaders

By Aroha Mane

Today the hapū of Ngāi Tūkairangi in Tauranga Moana mourn the loss of two community leaders, former  Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Te Rangi chief executive Penetaka Brian Dickson and former Labour Party candidate Te Whakaotinga Louis Te Kani. 

Mr Dickson led Te Runanga o Ngāi Te Rangi in 2011 when the Rena oil disaster happened off the coast of Tauranga. The grounding of the MV Rena on Otaiti (Astrolabe Reef) saw 350 tonnes of oil and 87 containers along with their contents spill out into the moana.

Dickson, along with other Tauranga Moana leaders, placed a rāhui (prohibition) restricting access at the time and strongly advocated for local iwi to be part of the decision-making process when it came to the clean-up.

To date, this is the worst maritime environmental disaster in New Zealand history.

Mr Te Kani practised law for more than 20-years and worked in the areas of criminal law, civil litigation, family law and Maori land issues.

He was also part-owner of the law firm Moana Law based in Rotorua. In 2011 Mr Te Kani stood as the Labour Party candidate in the Waiariki electorate. Although he gained 25% of the votes, he lost to Te Ururoa Flavell from the Māori Party.   

Mr Dickson will lie in state at Hungahungatoroa this afternoon and will be buried at Otumoko urupā on Wednesday.

Mr Te Kani (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pukenga) was laid to rest today after lying in state at Mātaatua Marae in Rotorua and Hungahungatoroa Marae in Tauranga.

Mr Te Kani leaves behind his wife Celia Solomon and their children Ebrahim and Atamatea.