Pa Hemi Hekiera RIP

Pa Hemi Hekiera died in Rotorua on Friday.

His priestly ministry was focused on strengthening Maori Catholics as both Māori and Catholic.

His sudden death follows the recent deaths of two other priests who spent many years working with Māori Catholics.

Fr Wim Tuerlings, a Mill Hill priest died in the Netherlands on 2 December. He worked in Māori ministry from 1965,  for all of but two years, till he retired in 2009.

Fr (Patrick) Lorenzo Bracken, also a Mill Hill worked for 27 years in Māori ministry.
He died Ireland on 5 December.

Hemi Hekiera was an enthusiastic and persistent man.  Once he had set a course, golf or otherwise, he never gave up.

One of his favourite sayings on the golf course, or other times he may have seemed cornered, was ‘Double or quits’!!

He applied that to all aspects of his life.

Hemi was also a person of vision; he was the founder and guiding light of Waka Aroha, a programme that formed many Māori lay people for ministry.

His mission for the last 20 years at Hato Paora, Feilding, Te Kuiti, Hamilton was Whaia Te Whaea – Follow the Mother, providing pastoral care and guidance to Māori communities in support of Māori themselves inculturating the Gospel in their local area

Hemi was a ‘rolling stone that gathers no moss’. He was a ball of energy.

One time he discharged himself from hospital and, carrying his drip, watched a rugby game at Hato Paora.

This energy was open to do what was needed.

He was a big picture man, who often left the details for others to work out.

Another of his sayings was, “let’s play it by ear.”

Because Hemi worked in so many places through New Zealand he had friends all over the country.

He particularly enjoyed the company of his brothers in the diocesan priesthood.

Hemi’s Tangihanga was held at Puniho Marae, Taranaki.

A Requiem Mass will be celebrated at St Joseph’s, New Plymouth, on Tuesday at 11.a.m followed by burial at Parihaka.

He tohunga no te tikanga o Merikiheriki. Haere e pa i raro i te korowai o Meri Takakau.


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