May 10, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

He Poroporoaki: Hawea Vercoe

4 min read

Ma te tuku o te roimata me te hupe kia rere, kia ea te ngau o mate, o aitua. Haere ki tua o te arai! Haere ki o tipuna! Haere ki te Po! Haere ki te Po!

Update: From our understanding at the moment the tupapaku is in Auckland but that he will return to the marae either today or tomorrow. Please see below for a map, and as more information comes to hand we will post it. A map is attached below. More details are now available below (23/11/09 14.27pm)

Tributes have been flooding in at the shock and saddness of the death of Hawea Vercoe. The Maori Party expressed their profound shock at hearing of the death of prominent school principal and local body politician.

Hawea was a young man with enormous energy for life who had achieved a significant profile across Aotearoa in education, politics and local government, Maori Party MP for Waiariki Te Ururoa Flavell said.

Hawea was extremely proud to be principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Rotoiti and was committed to ensuring the children attending his kura were educated in the widest sense of the word.He took them to the hikoi against the police raids on terrorism; he involved the kura in the launching of Google Maori; and he advocated for his kura to be allowed Maori signs on their buses a stand which led to a policy change by Land Transport New Zealand.

Hawea had also called for Maori wards to be established in Rotorua where he had been an active member of Rotorua District Councils Te Arawa standing committee as well as a councillor for the Environment Bay of Plenty Okurei Maori seat. Hewea was incredibly talented and passionate about all that he did. He was a candidate for Destiny Church in the 2005 elections; an outspoken Daily Post columnist and even the recent competition that saw him, Pouroto Ngaropo and Ruiha Ruwhiu take out the winning team for Ngati Awa as New Zealands top debating iwi.

Our thoughts are with his whanau, hapu and iwi of Ngati Awa and Te Arawa and the greater community of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Rotoiti who will greatly feel the loss of this dynamic leader a young man lost in the prime of his life.

Reports suggest that Hawea was murdered outside a Whakatane pub on 22 November by a stranger. Hawea had been in Whakatane with his children to see his parents. He went out to support local singer Maisey Rika at a concert, then told his mum and dad he was going for a few drinks with friends in town. That was to be the last time they would see their son alive.

Mr Vercoe, a father of six, was principal of Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Rotoiti, a Maori seat councillor on Environment Bay of Plenty and a member of the Rotorua District Council’s Te Arawa standing committee.

Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Standen of Whakatane said Mr Vercoe was punched to the ground outside The Quart House in the town’s centre about 2.30am. Quart House owner Grant Webb said the attack appeared to be completely unprovoked.

[Mr Vercoe] carried on walking to the pedestrian crossing and this fella had just taken offence to something and just king-hit him and he just ended up dying out there. It wasn’t a drunken brawl or anything like that. It just came completely out of the blue. No one had a chance to react. It just shocked everybody.”

A teenager from Opotiki has been charged with his murder and will appear in Whakatane District Court today.

Whanau spokesman and Ngati Awa leader Pouroto Ngaropo said the family were “just absolutely devastated”, “They’re in pain, despair and agony … just all the worst emotions you could imagine. “He went out with some friends to have a few drinks but he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Mr Ngaropo said Mr Vercoe moved comfortably between his two iwi, Ngati Awa and Te Arawa.

His loss was already being felt and would continue to be for years. “Ngati Awa are in mourning,” Mr Ngaropo said. “We had absolute faith that in time he would have been one of our leaders.”

Te Arawa kaumatua Toby Curtis said he had been working with Mr Vercoe to help him move forward.He, too, said Mr Vercoe had been earmarked as a leader from a young age and had turned around the fortunes of the Rotoiti kura. In his first year as head, the roll had almost tripled to 96 students.

Mr Vercoe later caused controversy – which went all the way to a parliamentary committee hearing – by using the word “kura” on the school’s bus as he pushed for the use of bilingual road signs. “Through his commitment and passion for language he not only brought about change for traffic rules for school buses but he also changed the thinking amongst Maori people and indeed bureaucrats around the country”, said Mr Curtis.

He was indeed a person who gave not only insight but a structure and confidence to achieve what many people had not thought possible.”

Mr Vercoe’s tangi will be held at Tuteao Marae in Te Teko at 597A Te Teko Road off SH30 (just over the bridge).

Updated details:

  • Monday 23rd Approx 2pm Hawea will leave Auckland & return to Brent Willetts Funeral Home in Whakatane. Hawea will then return to the home of his matua, Waaka, in Whakatane for the night.
  • Tuesday 24th 11am – Travel to Tuteao Marae, Te Teko


13 thoughts on “He Poroporoaki: Hawea Vercoe

  1. Tena koutou e te wh?nau e noho mokemoke ana, kei hea ra! kei hea ra! he k?rero tua atu i te mamae. Kare au e wareware ki ng? mahi i mahia e koe Hawea m? te painga o ng? tamariki M?ori kia eke panuku, kia eke taumata i t?nei ao hurihuri. Kare koe e warewaretia moe mai, moe mai moe mai r?.

  2. Moe mai ra matua Hawea
    Ma te Atua koe e Manaaki

    Aue te mamae

    Kia Ora matua mo to mahi hei tu Tumuaki mo Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Rotoiti

  3. Ma te atua e manaaki ma te atua e tiaki. Such a beautiful life. Why does it happen to such beautiful Maori People. To the whanau. My deepest love, and sympathy is with you. May God guide you and keep you all safe. May he give you the strength to go on. God put Hawea on earth for a reason, how long he was here and what he did on this earth was his gift to us Maori. Tamariki were his life. Maori was his life. Whanau was his life. Rest in peace HAWEA. You will never be forgotten. You are our advocate in Heaven and our Maori angel.

  4. Kei hea koe e te parata? e te tii, e te taa? He aha ai i huri tuara ke moata rawa atu?
    I tautoko au nga mihi ki runga ake nei. He tangata tu mana motuhake koe i nga wa katoa, ahakoa te take, ahakoa ko wai te hoariri. Nau ano i waiho mai ki a matou nga akoranga, nga tapuwae ki te whakaki.
    No reira, e Hawea, nau i whakaea taua whakatauki, ma te wahine, ma te whenua, ka mate ai te tangata.
    Hoea tonu to waka ki tua, ki Paerau, ki te kahuiranga o nga matua tupuna kua wheturangitia.
    Moe mai, moe mai, moe tonu mai.
    Tuturu whakamaua kia tina, Tina!
    Haumie, hui e, Taiki e!

  5. Classic example of taking the good to soon, there are no goodbyes my dear cuzzin … until we meet again.

    xxx Marina

    For those looking for more information on the tangi … the following message from his big sister Moerangi

    Tuesday 24th November – We are taking Hawea to kura this morning and then to our Marae Tuteao in Te Teko. His service is at 11am on Thursday and then he will be buried at Puketapu. The support we are getting is overwhelming. Kia ora koutou katoa.

  6. Shiny and sparkly and splendidly bright here one day gone one night…. Like a sunset dying with the rising of the moon…

  7. Shocked. Moved with saddness. Much thoughts and love to his tamariki and whanau. Kia Kaha Koutou Ma! Tu tonu! Tut onu!

  8. ae Bro!! sad about Hawea too…kia kaha some of us now have to work harder to row the waka cos we just lost another kaupapa warrior like us… aroha and positive vibrations bro!!

  9. I assume no email in Hawaikii Harz, so send this via te aro haa. The world got a little bit "less" today, less fantastic, less brilliant, less you and we're poorer for it. I told you HB would beat BoP – at home even. Too bad I didn't send you that HBRFU tie, a lesson for the future, never wait to do that which we should do today and my kinsmen … Read Morewould've chuckled to see you have to wear it. Reparation for you, Pouroto and Ruiha skooling us. You didn't wait for a lot of things, LTNZ, EnVBOP, RDC just another heart and mind for you to change, no matter how much trouble it got you into. And you made change. You'd give Maui a run for his money… sadly tho not even Maui could defy Hinenui…Your death is a tragedy, a senseless, stupid stupid tragedy and we're angry aue te ngau … but what was your line? kkw (Maori for lol, katakata ki waho) stay in touch eh, maybe you and Ngatoroirangi can sort out txt from that side, I hear he was pretty good with communicating that way? But if that's too hard for you fullas, see Ruawharo, he'll sort it kkw.

  10. How to comment … Hawea was a shining example of that we strive to be … Beleivers in truth justice and freedom This year he suffered the true extremes of falling in love, following the passion of that love and sacrificing that for the well being of our people. He was harmed on this journey but truly did not deserve the consequences of a moment of stupidty by faceless attackers in the night. He is some that truly deserves a place in paradise wherever that special place is…

  11. I am shocked at the death of Hawea
    Veiesrcoe. A great man, fearless, courageous, willing to put his neck out, a true activist, a true radical, a man of his time and a man for the people,
    to His matua, I cannot understand how you must feel, I grieve with you, for you , the loss to his children and a father who loved his babies, all our babies.

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