Topic: Matariki

Ngā Ringa Raupā - Joe Harawira

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

This year marks 33 years since Joe Harawira started helping ex-sawmill workers affected by poisons while working in the mills.

Today, there are over 300 registered members making up the Sawmill Workers Against Poisons campaign.

Hohepa Joseph Harawira says, “Sawmill Workers Against Poisons (SWAP).  When you hear that, you get some idea of what we endured in the places where we worked.

I'm Joe Harawira.  I'm the manager of SWAP.  I'm also an environmental caretaker under Ngāti Awa social health services.

In 1981, that was the last year I played rugby.  That's when I started noticing how sick I was getting.

From that time 'til now, I started looking for ways to help all sawmill workers around the country to cope.  To ensure the way is clear for the next generation, in my opinion, we have to heal the land first. 

We believe that if Papatūanuku can see us fighting to heal her, then in time she will be able to heal herself.”

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