Professor Ranginui Walker (1932 – 2016)

 Dr Ranginui Walker

We are mourning the loss of a very inspiring Maori leader, Professor Ranginui Walker, of Whakatohea, and long-time resident of Tamaki Makaurau.  Thousands gathered at Takaparawhau during the three days of his tangi to pay their respects to this activist and academic who has reshaped Maori-Pakeha relationships in Aotearoa.

We went to the tangi on its second day with a group of Auckland Pakeha Treaty workers . Speeches by many leading Maori men from all over the country paid tribute to Dr Walker’s work.

All of our group have special memories of Ranginui as a source of inspiration and education, helping us understand the legacy of colonisation in his insightful way, challenging us and encouraging us to continue to take responsibility for working with other Pakeha on Treaty issues.

Our thoughts are especially with Deidre, his devoted wife, best friend, and staunch supporter for more than sixty years, and with their children Michael, Stuart and Wendy, and grandchildren.

The next day on Maori television we watched the live-streamed funeral service for Ranginui at Takaparawhau, and heard eulogies from Dame Anne Salmond, Metiria Turei,   Ranginui and Deidre’s son Stuart, and Hirini Kaa.

Te Kahautu Maxwell, Ringatu priest and Whakatohea elder , read a stinging letter written in the first person and beginning “Dear Crown,…” describing the effects of colonisation on Whakatohea people and land (which he told us at the end had been written by Ranginui in 2003). Te Kahautu talked with anger about the National government’s failure to send even one representative to Ranginui’s tangi, and with pain, anger and humour about Ranginui’s decision to be farewelled and cremated in Auckland.  He also acknowledged warmly the cooperation between Ngaati Whatua and Whakatohea in hosting the tangi.

Farewell, Ranginui, leader of distinction. We are deeply grateful for your sharp mind,  skills as a speaker, writer, educator, and your generosity of spirit.

Kua hinga te totara i te wao nui a Tāne;

Haere atu, haere atu, haere atu rā

An Open Letter to Helen, Bill, Richard, Peter, Jeanette and Jim, as read by Te Kahautu Maxwell at the funeral service, can be found here:

We strongly recommend the excellent tribute written by Paul Spoonley and published in the NZ Listener of 3 March 2016:

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