Parekura Horomia 1950-2013


Many thanks to long-time Metal Type contributor Graeme How for sending in this article.

Said Graeme: “Our local Member of Parliament Parekura Horomia died this week at the age of 62. He started his working life as a linotype operator at the Gisborne Hearld.

“He was a very popular MP as they are expecting about 10,000 (yes 10,000) people at his funeral.

“I met him a couple of years ago and he and I agreed that not many people these days would know what a linotype was.”

Here is an editorial from The Gisborne Herald about him:

Parekura on learning a trade and his days as a printer . . .

When Parekura Horomia joined the Gisborne Herald as a printing apprentce in 1966, aged 16, he entered a trade with strong union involvement that would stand him in good stead for politics.

He was also something of a trailblazer in an industry where Maori “were hardly present at all” — according to Peter Franks in his book Print & Politics: A history of tade unions in the New Zealand printing industry 1865-1995.

Horomia, who died this week, had a varied career before becoming a Labour MP and Minister of Maori Affairs from 2000-2008, but told Franks that learning his trade as a linotype operator and being a union member were “the most important of all my educational experiences.” “I think the Printing Union stint was the beginning of consolidating strong views and strong encouragement to make decisions for yourself.”

Franks asked Horomia if the newspaper industry and the union were a foreign culture for a young Maori who had been brought up in the country as part of an extended family. He did not find it so:

“I really warmed to the union because I had been brought up in a a life of broad collectivity — whanau, whanui, really living it.

“What I didn’t realise at the time was that I was a rarity, being a Maori … It was not so much a closed shop, but Maori went into carpentry or wallpapering or plumbing.”

Horomia liked the clear pecking order at the Gisborne Herald and especially within the union. “It was a very good, safe environment in the company … “With the union (it) was hierarchical but there was no doubt about any claim or needs of union members. There was no insecurity.

Parekura Horomia promoted the importance of education and learning a trade throughout his life, as he championed Maori aspiration and achievement. He remained a union man.

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