Māoridom mourns the loss of Māori Language stalwart Erima Henare

By Maiki Sherman

Māoridom is mourning the loss of respected reo advocate, public servant and famous Ngāti Hine son, Erima Henare, who passed away at his home in Wellington overnight.

Accolades flowed forth, from the very valley he hailed from, to the lofty heights of Parliament.  

The swan song of a scholar who believed education was the key to the world.

Pita Paraone says, “He was committed to learning from our elders through his hunger for knowledge.”  

That knowledge was passed on to his students as a teacher and he later worked in Los Angeles for Foreign Affairs.

He managed the Auckland branch for Māori Affairs. He was also on a number of boards including the Waitangi Tribunal, Waitangi National Trust, and the Open Polytechnic.

But his love of the Māori language was his passion.  

Te Ururoa Flavell says, “He was an advocate and pioneer for Māori and helped lead our language to where it is today.”

Erima Henare has been at the helm of the Māori Language Commission for seven years. His new board held their first meeting just yesterday.

Awanuiarangi Black says, “We all shed tears today, staff and members of the board. Everyone is absolutely shocked.”

As well as his hard working nature, he was also a very jovial person who loved a laugh.

Black says, “He loved to make people laugh and enjoyed banter. In most of everything he did, there would always be a bit of laughter behind it.”

He has certainly embodied the proverb of Sir Apirana Ngata, having moved in both the Māori and Pākehā worlds.

“If we think of the attributes that make a leader, all of those attributes were held by Erima Henare,” says Black.

He has certainly left his mark on the world and will now be farewelled.

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