Ōrākei Marae is preparing for the funeral of leading academic and Māori activist Dr Ranginui Walker. Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei say the connection between the iwi and Dr Walker was a very strong and was a personal one that began during the Takaparawhau occupation in the 1970s.
Tables are being set with the expectation that more than 1500 people will be coming through the marae over the next few days.
'We're really here just to help, because he meant a lot to Ōrākei," says local Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei resident, Rauaroha Karena Scott.
Rauaroha Scott and Rongo Hawke are old hands at the marae. They both say preparing the marae for Dr Ranginui Walker is an honour and a privilege.
"Right from the onset of our marae you know it was him and quite a few others. That's how we got our marae," says Rongo Hawke.
Locals say Walker was a key figure in providing and preparing evidence for their claims and protests against the Crown.
Taiaha Hawke from Ōrakei Marae shared some fond memories of Dr Walker, “When the occupation of Bastion Pt happened, he came with all his knowledge and history in order to help us with that big fight, he also helped my father (Joe Hawke) to be strong when it came to his cases in the Courts.”
Tomorrow at 11am, Te Whakatōhea iwi will be escorting Dr Ranginui Walker onto Ōrākei Marae, under the protection of the wharenui, Tumutumuwhenua.