During the protest era when Ranginui Walker was at Auckland University. He was a staunch supporter of the activist groups Ngā Tamatoa and the Polynesian Panthers.
Not only did Māori youth turn to Ranginui Walker for his mentorship and academic knowledge, Pacific Island youth including Will Ilolahia of the Polynesian Panthers also sought his solace and guidance in their struggles with the Pākehā system.
“A lot of our members were very involved in the Te Reo Māori petition, land march and all the other activities that supported Māori,” says Will Ilolahia.
One of Māoridoms most recognised activist from Ngāi Tūhoe, Tame Iti, has nothing but praise for Ranginui Walker and the influence he wielded.
“He was very supportive of the issues that Ngā Tamatoa stood against. He and Patu Hohepa were our academic leaders at Auckland University,” says Tame Iti.
Former activist Will Ilolahia recalls Ranginui Walker as a person with a warm nature, but whatever he did had content, depth and meaning, especially regarding promptness.
“The explanation that he gave me in regards to Māori time, he gave me some sort of historical perspective in regard to the way of iwi and that, and I just thought oh well that's just us, came in handy for the sleep in and being late,” says Ilolahia.
Tame says the struggles and issues for activist groups and academics were the same, but the tools of battle were different, “He would encourage us to protest the issues and not just sit idle and do nothing. He would also be there to guide us and monitor our progress. That was his nature.”