Brian Edwards Media

Anecdote about A Lovely Man



A dominant theme will run through all the obituaries and tributes to Parekura Horomia – that he was a lovely man. It will be unnecessary to remind anyone who knew him of the injunction not to speak ill of the dead. The thought will simply not occur. He was a lovely man and little more needs to be said.

From time to time the lovely man was delivered by ‘the boss’ into Brian and Judy’s tender care for ‘media training’. Parekura was ‘expansive’ when he spoke to journalists or in the House. His expansiveness sometimes got him into trouble  and our brief was to encourage him in the view that where journalists and the Opposition were concerned,  less really was more.

We decided that our client needed to learn the dark art of starving his questioners  of material to use against him by answering as many questions as possible with an undecorated ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. This did not come easily  to Parekura who may well have thought it abrupt or rude and whose natural instinct was to convert a word into a sentence, the sentence into a paragraph and the paragraph into a full page.  Where answering questions was concerned he was generous to a fault.    

A hard worker and a fast learner, he nonetheless got better and better at answering hostile questions with a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and we eventually concluded that he was match fit.

Everything went swimmingly until a debate on alleged misspending at Te Mangai Paho, the Maori Broadcasting funding agency. Parekura had been briefed to refer any Opposition questions on the issue to Wira Gardiner who’d been appointed interim chairman of the agency and was investigating the allegations.

‘Yes, No, Wira Gardiner,’ we half-joked to Parekura. ‘Yes, No, Wira Gardiner.’

Our student was brilliant, answering every hostile question ‘Yes ‘or ‘No’ or ‘Mr Gardiner is looking into it.’

But Mr Gardiner was also a former Maori vice-president of the National Party and this led Nick Smith to interject, ‘So the Nats are fixing it up?’

And that led in turn to Rodney Hide asking whether, since Mr Gardiner seemed to be doing his job for him,  Mr Horomia was urging Maori to vote National so that they could get a competent Minister of Maori Affairs. After a moment’s hesitation, and to cheers, laughter and applause from the Opposition,  Parekura replied, ‘Most certainly.’

I’m pretty sure he won’t mind me telling this story at his expense – and ours. He was self-deprecating and had a wonderful sense of humour.

Maori speakers tell me he was a brilliant orator on the marae. But to me he was and will always be that rarest of gems in the bear-pit that is politics – a lovely man.


  1. Parekura Horomia, the gentle giant of New Zealand is today the Norm Kirk of the 70s. Like Norm Parekura had put aside his own wellbeing for what he believed in, that is a fairer New Zealand for all.

    Like Norm, he will rest aside along the other great New Zealand Labour leaders like Michael Savage, David Lange and others.

    God bless you Parekura, its sad to see you go mate, but you put up a bloody good fight.

  2. 2

    Glad to see you affection for Parekura has provoked your ghost to rise fully from its grave, Brian. Long may your passions find voice. I didn’t know him, so it’s good to hear from those who did.

  3. I never met him but was always impressed by his fair minded and even tempered approach to politics.

  4. I like the photo you chose of the lovely Parekura and will add
    authentic to describe him.
    Hekia Parata described him as authentic and as she grew up with him
    she would know.

  5. A lovely tribute Brian to a lovely man.I met him a number of times in non political settings and always came away from our meetings uplifted by his warmth and cheer.
    Listening to National Radio on Tuesday morning it was wonderful to hear the generous tributes being paid by politicians right across the political spectrum.
    The only thing missing was an appraisal of his career by what say Winston Peters or Rodney Hide,two of his most virulent crtics when Parekura was Minister for Maori Affairs.
    According to John Barr this would give the programme “balance”.

    • @A G Hudson

      Radio New Zealand ran News bulletins at 10.00 am and 3.00 pm on Tuesday 30th April quoting Winston Peters tribute to Parekura Horomia.

      Mr Peters noted Mr Horomia was calm and reasonable even when he was unjustly criticised:

      “He’ll be seriously missed, and very much remembered for his very very generous nature, the fact that he got on with the job regardless of what people said about him and he spent an enormous amount of time serving Ngati Porou, the people of the East Coast, maoridom in general and the country as well . He was a very very good New Zealander.”

      John Barr
      Communications Manager
      Radio New Zealand

      • Thanks John.

      • 5.1.2

        Poor Mr Barr.You still don’t understand do you.There is a vast difference between a tribute and an appraisal.Bryan Gould was not asked to give a tribute he was asked to give an appraisal of Thatcher.Winston Peters was not asked to give an appraisal of Parekura’s political career [which I am sure he would be very critical of if his past statements are anything to go by] he was asked for a tribute to Parekura.
        And if the Communications manager of Radio NZ doesn’t know the difference between the two it is a sad day for National Radio in NZ.

  6. Two questions Brian: Is the fact that someone is a client of a media trainer confidential? Is what a client of a media trainer does or says covered by client confidentiality?

  7. In an age where politicians are held in low esteem, not many of them can claim to be larger than life, like Parekura.

  8. Yes–no questions are also formed in Latin with ” nonne “, implying that the interrogator thinks the answer to be the affirmative, and with ” num “, implying that the interrogator thinks the answer to be the negative.