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Poroporoaki: Waka Joseph Nathan

Press Release – New Zealand Government

Hon Willie Jackson

Te Minita Whanaketanga Māori

Minister for Māori Development

E Waka e, kei hea ra koe, kua ngaro nei i te iwi e,

E kawe nei i ngā rongo, i ngā mahara mōu, i ngā wawata i hua mai i a koe.

E Waka e, haere ra, kei te tuahu koe o te ati a toa,

Kei poho tonu o tō tupuna o Hine-nui-te pō. Kei kona koe okioki ai.

E te hurumanu, te mūrau a te tini, te wenerau a te mano, kua eke koe ki te tihi o manawaroa, ki tua o Paerau e kore nei a muri e hoki, ki puni o ngā whakamataku o te ao, hei kaiwhakatau atu i a koe me te kī, nau mai ra e te kai a te ahi.

E Waka e, i ngāueue ai te whenua, i haruru ai ngā papa tākaro o te ao, i mahue kau ana ko o whakapuehutanga hei tohu i pahure pēnei mai koe.

E Waka e, takoto mārire mai.

E Waka e, you who now is lost to the nation, who hold but to the legend, the memory and the awe you inspired.

E Waka e, you stand at the altar of the brave, at arms-length from the embrace of your ancestress Hine-nui-te-pō. There you may find solace.

Revered plume, repository of courage, object of envy, you have made life’s long journey to Paerau from which no traveller returns, where the legends of your world will greet you saying, welcome home fire-eater.

E Waka e, ground-shaker, who rumbled across the playing fields of the world, leaving but a dusty trail to show that you had passed this way.

E Waka e, rest in peace.

Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson wishes to acknowledge the passing of an All Blacks Legend, Waka Joseph Nathan who was 81.

A Ngapuhi, Tainui descendant, Waka made his All Blacks debut in 1962.

“I was saddened to learn about the death of the great Waka Nathan, who many would rate as the greatest Māori rugby player of his era. I got to know Waka when I was on Aotearoa Radio in the early 90s and when he had his butcher shop in Mangere Bridge,” Willie Jackson said.

He was like many of our Māori sports icons of his era incredibly humble and gracious with his time. Everyone wanted to talk to him, and everyone wanted to be like him, Waka was a hero to all, Māori, Pākeha, Pasifika and particularly his South Auckland community where he had grown up.

“Waka’s feats on the field during the All Blacks 1963/64 tour of Britain are legendary. He played on with a broken jaw, scoring an incredible 11 tries in 15 matches. His style of play, as a hard tackling and free-running flanker would have been well suited to the modern game.”

Given the nickname Le Panthère Noir (The Black Panther) by the French during that tour, he would go on to play 14 Tests and 23 matches for the All Blacks. He also played for the Māori All Blacks from 1960-66, and became a rugby stalwart for Auckland Rugby playing 88 games for the province.

“Waka was a man of incredible mana who bought not only pride to the jersey but he made rangatahi proud to be Māori. It was not just on the field where Waka made his mark on the game, but off it as well.

“During his reign as Māori All Blacks coach and selector from 1971-77, Waka paved the way for Māori rugby in Aotearoa. My condolences go out to Waka’s whānau for their loss of a great man,” Willie Jackson said.

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