Parekura Horomia laid to rest

6:30 pm on 4 May 2013

The Labour MP Parekura Horomia has been laid to rest, following an eloquent funeral tribute from his oldest son, Desmond.

Two thousand people including politicians and iwi representatives attended the funeral of the former Maori Affairs Minister in Tolaga Bay on Saturday.

Mr Horomia died surrounded by family at his home in Mangatuna on Monday. He was 62.

The funeral at Hauiti Marae on Saturday morning began with a karakia, before the sound of "Amazing Grace" filled the grounds.

Desmond Horomia told the service his father was a pillar for his children and would be greatly missed.

During his eulogy Mr Horomia described a moment when his father was on his deathbed and was taking some medicine, and had said he was leaving Desmond in charge.

"I said 'Well, you've got to take your medicine' and then he turns round and goes 'I'm taking it away from you. You're not in charge any more.' I said 'You can't do that to me!' But that's the way he was. My father led with his heart."

Mourners stand as the casket is taken from the marae.

Mourners stand as the casket is taken from the marae. Photo: RNZ

Desmond Horomia (third from right) led the pallbearers.

Desmond Horomia (third from right) led the pallbearers. Photo: RNZ

He thanked the many thousands of people who have passed through the marae since the tangi began on Wednesday, telling stories and sharing experiences.

Among the stories people have shared was how Mr Horomia had a language of his own that some people couldn't understand.

Responding to this during the funeral service, cousin Rawiri Ruru said Mr Horomia instructed him to "speak extemporaneously" if he chose to make an address at the tangi.

"So I had to go and get a dictionary and look up what this word extemporaneously meant. I don't believe that my cousin didn't know all those big words, 'cos he did."

The Reverend Henare Kirikiri, who opened the service, said Mr Horomia was an ordinary man who was born with extraordinary gifts.

"Although he mixed with royalty and dignitaries at all levels, his actions were simple and genuine, his thoughts were sincere and he saw everyone as equal."

The funeral procession leaves the marae.

The funeral procession leaves the marae. Photo: RNZ

In a message read at the funeral, former Prime Minister Helen Clark said the MP was a greatly valued minister in her government, and his basic decency, honesty and integrity impressed all who met him.

Ms Clark said it was a measure of the man that he spoke directly and had strong views, but appeared to not have an enemy in the world.

The former head of Te Puni Kokiri, Sir Harawira Gardiner, revealed the former Maori Affairs Minister considered giving up politics around 2006 due to his health.

Sir Harawira said he put together a package for Mr Horomia that was more attractive financially than his job in Parliament - but days went past and Mr Horomia did not get back to him. When he finally did, he said his nannies would not let him leave politics.

However Sir Harawira said the reality was that the MP liked what he was doing, and he had died on his own terms in command of his destiny.

After the funeral, Mr Horomia was buried at Kohimarama cemetery, across the road from the marae. Light rain began to fall as pallbearers carried the casket there.