by SUE SECONI
As family and friends heard of the death of Piripi Rangi Haami, memories of national and local protests were immediately recalled.
Piripi Haami, who died aged 64 surrounded by his whanau, on October 11, was one of the staunchest advocates of tino
rangatiratanga — self determination for his Wanganui people.
Born of Ngati Hine of Maungarongo and Ngati Ruaka of Ranana descent, he was described as the warrior of the tupuna of the past, as he tackled and drove issues to the front and remained there until the outcome had been achieved.
Fellow activist Ken Mair said his friend was a staunch, strong advocate for bringing about positive change for us the iwi, and the river.
On January 2, 1995, Mr Haami and other protesters entered Television New Zealand studios and delayed the live news broadcast by 10 minutes in an effort to raise awareness and gain increased coverage of Maori issues.
He was involved in the 80-day occupation of the historic Pakaitore-Moutua Gardens near the Whanganui River that same year. The impact of this protest called for a new era of consultation between Government and Maori.
After an agreement about the land was reached, Mr Haami held a member position on the garden’s governing board.
He was stirred to join the protesting group to retrieve from public sale by auction the William Partington photos that not only reveal life along the river, but aspects of tikanga (protocol), taken about 100 years ago.
Those photos were found in an old suitcase by a Partington descendant living in the Bay of Islands. After community and iwi groups raised $150,000, they were purchased and returned to the city.
The photos were arranged into an exhibition called Te Pihi Mata (The Sacred Eye) 1892-1908 held at the regional museum.
A member of St Mary’s Parish, Mr Haami was a key person in the Hui Aranga (Maori Catholic Easter gathering). Fr Steve Hancy presided at his tangi.