by PAT LYTHE
A giant totara has fallen. From the time of his death at 12.15pm on April 1, people from all walks of life, Māori, Pakeha and everybody in between planned to make the journey to Motuti in North Hokianga to pay their respects to Pa Henare Tate.
His tangi encompassed groups from health bodies, other churches, government agencies as well as students from Hato Petera, Hato Paora and the Panguru school.
All the marae in the area opened their doors to the thousands of visitors who braved the torrential remnants of Cyclone Debbie and the Motuti mud to bid Pa farewell over the three days.
Pa Peter Tipene celebrated the funeral Mass at Tamatea, Bishop Patrick Dunn preached the homily, and Bishop Denis Browne led the prayers of commendation before Pa was carried to Hata Maria church to bid farewell to Bishop Pompallier before being buried in the cemetery beside the church.
“Haere Ra, e Pa — you touched so many lives, you will be sadly missed,” was a common sentiment.
Speaking the day after Pa Tate had been laid to rest, Bishop Dunn noted that the funeral Mass was moved inside the meeting house as a precaution because of the expected bad weather.
The bishop said he had wondered how the occasion would go, given the relatively small site available and the size of the crowds, but everything was very well organised by the locals.
Bishop Dunn noted that Pa Tate and Bishop Browne were ordained priests on the same day at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1962.
Among those who came to Motuti to pay their respects before the funeral was a group of Buddhist monks, Bishop Dunn added, saying this was an indication of how widely respected Pa Tate was.
In the Te Whanau Tapu parish newsletter for April 9 at Te Unga Waka in Auckland, Pa Mikaere Ryan, MHM, noted that “Pompallier College and Hato Petera College all gave stirring haka as Pa’s hikoi to Hata Maria before burial began”.
“He was taken into the whare karakia and Pihopa Pomaparie’s [Bishop Pompallier’s] casket was raised. Pompallier’s own hymn Anō te mahara was sung and his prayer for vocations recited. After a short time there [Pa Tate] was carried into the urupa and buried at the feet of his parents Manuka and Hera.”
Pa Ryan also wrote: “He truly was a remarkable man and priest. His mana was honoured by the crowds who came to pay their respects and Hokianga will always have the distinction of providing the first Maori diocesan priest.”