Yesterday, I attended the tangihanga (Maori traditional funeral rites) of a dear friend and colleague with some of our students from my last year’s class that he had also shared in teaching. I found out on the weekend that he had died suddenly which took me by surprise as I had seen him on zoom that week.

His tangi paid special tribute to him as a teacher, a colleague, a friend, a family member etc. at his home Marae in Panmure, Te Tira Hou where the three of us kaiako/tutors held occasional weekend classes. slept over with our tauira/students, had meals together, went on special field trips, sang songs, laughed, talked, shared, drove mini vans all over Auckland and enjoyed each other’s company.

It definitely won’t be the same without him and I will miss his wisdom, his patience, his company and the hugs that greeted every morning in our office, the jokes we’d share and the wonder of the transformations that we were privileged to share in seeing lives changed for good.

I will sorely miss my dear friend. He was a gentle giant with much mana (prestige), he was well respected and was never on time as, much like my father, he was always early to morning karakia (prayers). He was constant, consistent and always had time for people. He never made people feel ashamed for not knowing Maori tikanga (cultural practices) and was a mentor for many people including me.

There is a Samoan proverb that talks about when a toa – warrior passes, who will then take his place? His shoes would be much too big to fill. He was a legend and so knowledgeable about things Maori but also very humble, with great humility and genuinely cared about people.

I will miss you my dear friend but know that now you are in a place where there will be no sorrow, nor loneliness, nor sadness and that you will receive your great reward because of your great faith. Our office will never be the same. As he can never be replaced. Arohanui (much love) my friend…

Ia manuia lou malaga. May your journey go well…