Erima Henare remembered for his connection to iwi across the country

By Lynette Amoroa

Erima Henare had a special bond with other iwi across the country. He was a loving father and grandfather to his many descendants. He is the essence of a proverb about the Taumārere river, he was the peace maker who united all who knew him.

Erima Henare spoke at the forefront of the Ngāpuhi hearings four years ago, fighting for a place for Ngāti Hine in the dealings.

Te Waihoroi Shortland says, “There has been plenty of duties allocated for him, some are still going as we speak. We have said to him to stand aside, leave this one for a more aggressive attribute like myself to complete, then someone like yourself can come on board.”

Despite the complexity of any issue, he dealt with things in true Erima-fashion.

Sonny Tau says, “He was straight to the point. Despite tough debates he was able to shed light, and crack a smile on people's faces.”

It was his ability as a peacemaker that gained him respect from Waikato where he lived in the home owned by Kingi Koroki. 

That relationship continues today with his role on the King's Council, Tekau-mā-rua.

At a young age he was also sent to stay with Te Whānau-a-Apanui where he lived for several years to strengthen relationships between the iwi.

Rahui Papa says, “Erima received a lot of slack in Wellington, which actually strengthen him against a further controversy.”

But his responsibilities within government did not jeopardise his commitment to his people. In 2012 he shared the Christmas spirit with his whānau of Ngāti Te Tarawa.

Shortland says, “If Erima is still alive, he would say there's only one iwi that he fears, and that's his own iwi, Ngāti Hine, because that's the only iwi that could tell him to sit down, this is your role and go and complete it. We weren't like that to him, but he knew in his heart that, if his iwi would order him to do something, he must do it.”

The many people who spoke about him today, say he embodied the qualities of his father Sir James Henare.

Tariana Turia says, "When I think back to some of the sayings of Sir James Henare, all of us quote him, we've gone too far forward to ever go back and that’s what we have to hold fast to and that's what Erima exemplified."

Due to his ties with several iwi, there has been requests from Waikato, Te Whānau-a-Apanui and several Kōhanga Reo to champion them.  Proof that he was a man of the people.

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