Haere ngā mate ki tua o paerau; te moenga roa o ngā mātua tupuna. Haere, haere, haere.
It was with a huge sense of loss that we learned of the death of Dame Nganeko Minhinnick yesterday.
The Green Party acknowledges the extraordinary contribution that she has made to environmental protection, katiakitanga rights and in the ongoing work to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi in this country.
This Ngāti Te Ata kuia was revered across the motu for her leadership and for her ground breaking challenges to the Crown on Te Tiriti and environmental kaupapa. She was an indigenous activist of world-standing, and known well beyond Aotearoa’s shores.
For many of us Nganeko will always be remembered for her work on the Manukau Harbour claim, the Maioro iron sands campaign, the campaign to protect the Matukuturua Stonefields and the need for the RMA to recognise the kaitiaki of Papatūānuku.
She led many debates on the recognition of indigenous rights and she defined how the Crown and local authorities would consult with her hapū and iwi on terms that upheld the rights of mana whenua above all else.
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Anyone who met her felt her powerful uncompromising spirit and intellect. She was a legend for only being available on one day of the month and only if you came with a rākau to plant. To be in her presence was to be educated about what Te Tiriti relationships mean and what respect for the natural world entails.
The hard work she did should never be forgotten or underestimated. She exemplified the requirement to stand up for the issues at home while reframing the colonised processes around resource management decision making nationally.
She was a respected leader and matriarch of her whānau and hapū. We acknowledge the huge loss to the whānau pani, to Ngāti Te Ata and to Waikato-Tainui.
This is also a loss for all Aotearoa. Nganeko was also a leader for everyone who is committed to defending the land and water and respecting the first people of the land.
Nganeko showed us that honouring Te Tiriti means listening to the wisdom and challenges of such a wahine toa who gave her life to protecting the sacred at high personal cost.
Moe mai e te rangatira.