Tribute to Ralph Hotere

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Monday 14 March 2013
Ngahiraka Mason

A king tide

A king tide has a special energy and occurs after a full moon when the moon is closest to the Earth. One such tide greeted us at Rawene as we assembled as an ope waiting for the ferry to arrive from across the Hokianga Harbour to start the last leg of our journey to Mitimiti, where we would pay our last respects to Ralph Hotere. Like a karanga, this was a call of welcome into Hokianga whakapau karakia territory. Indeed, being in the company of elders, artists, writers and educators gave me a strong feeling of drawing closer to the heart of friendships and aroha tetahi ki tetahi for Ralph, his whanau and for Mitimiti. 

When you get to Mitimiti, the only way out is the way you came in. The remoteness is reflected in the road conditions indicative of a remote community, located on the western side of the lower reaches of the Hokianga. However, the sheer distance does not suggest to you the beauty of the place, its people and their whakapapa. 

The remembrances of a generation are most poignant at a tangihana as memories wash over each mourner. Tangihana provides everyone with a role to uplift people, to recall those already passed on and to inspire the bereaved to let go of a beloved. For an ope like ours it was a chance to pay last respects. On the day, Tumoana, Matihetihe, Hato Hemi, Mitimiti and Hiona had the last say. The Tasman Sea has quieted down and the king tide has ebbed and flowed into Te Moananui a Kiwa. Moe mai, moe mai, haere atu ra.

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