11 Feb 2015

Leader's tangi books out flights and motel

3:14 pm on 11 February 2015

Air New Zealand has increased the number of flights to Gisborne, to meet the needs of mourners wanting to pay their respects to the late Ngāti Porou leader, Apirana Mahuika.

Apirana Mahuika

Apirana Mahuika Photo: Twitter / Ngati Porou

The airline said it was experiencing high demand for services to the city in the coming days, particularly from Wellington.

It would run four planes from the capital, instead of the usual three.

People have been streaming onto Rāhui Marae on the East Coast, where Ngāti Porou uri (descendants) continue to pay their respects to the late tribal leader, Apirana Mahuika.

Mourners have been delivering whai kōrero (speeches) and waiata at the tangi for Mr Mahuika, who died on Monday aged 80.

The Hicks Bay Motel and Lodge on the East Coast said it had to turn away more than 100 people looking for accommodation following the death of the elder.

His tangi is being held at Rāhui Marae in Tikitiki, south of Hicks Bay.

A motel spokesperson Josephine Ruha said it had been overloaded with phone calls from people wanting to attend the tangihanga.

A nephew of Apirana Mahuika, Whaimutu Dewes, is one of those who's travelled to the tangi.

Mr Mahuika gave his life to Ngāti Porou from a very early age, he said.

"This was a man who was sent to school to get an education in the Pākeha system, but it was all paid for by the work of his parents, who milked cows and shore sheep so that they could afford to send him to school. When he graduated from high school he went to the University of Sydney and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from there. So a wide and varied range of skills. He became a clergyman, became a teacher, taught in universities, and then came back to Ngāti Porou to lead his people," he said.

Reflecting on the man's many contributions to the iwi, Whaimutu Dewes, said he had left the tribe in sound financial shape.

"He has seen the financial sustainability go from precarious to now quite sound. Very sound indeed. And he's seen the growth and development of the schools within the region, from something that was described as parlous, to now topping NCEA Level 2 statistics. And the schools here also get their graduates into universities, should they wish [to go]".

The tangi for Apirana Mahuika continues on Wednesday before he is buried next to his parents on Thursday.

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