The country is mourning the loss of Sir Graham Latimer KBE, who passed away at the age of 90. He is recognised for laying the pathway for the benefit of Māori culture. A descendant of Kotipu, Pukehapai, Te Paatu, his passing is felt throughout Māoridom and including the Prime Minister.
Māori leader Shane Jones was one of many who benefited from Sir Graham's leadership.
“Our love goes out to his immediate family, to the people of Northland and the Māori world on the passing of this Northland Kauri who is known right around the Māori world,” says Jones.
Sir Graham was recognised in the 1960s for his ability to settle land issues.
“In the time of my grandfather, he and Whina Cooper were the leaders of the North, so it's a big loss,” says MP Peeni Henare.
“I tell you all that if it wasn't for the work of Sir Graham Latimer in the 1970s to the 1990s, we would not be reaping the benefits of Te Tiriti o Waitangi like what we're currently witnessing,” says Jones.
In 1964, he joined the Māori Council, becoming president in nine years.
Minister of Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell says, "He was one of my teachers years ago when the Māori Council started. Since then, he's brought many significant issues to the attention of the government under the wing of the Māori Council."
In 1987, his challenge of the government's State Enterprise Act was the catalyst in a series of disagreements with the Crown on land ownership, forestry, fishing assets and the Māori language.
“He supported the broadcasting industry and the retention of our forests lands and fisheries and even mortgaged his own farm to raise the funds required to take Treaty issues before the courts,” says Jones.
He contested the Te Tai Tokerau seat twice.
“Sir Graham Latimer never gave preferential treatment to anyone tribe, he supported the small iwi just as much as the larger more powerful iwi. This is the time for the leaders of the respective iwi to pay their respects and give him the appropriate farewells,” says Jones.
He leaves behind his children with Dame Emily Latimer. Funeral details have yet been released.
Documentary Footage used in this story was provided courtesy of Front of the Box Productions