We heard the sad news that Parekura Horomia died at his home in Tolaga Bay, this afternoon. He was 62. He had problems with his weight and tried for many years to improve his health but recently he had not been very well.
He had been a Labour Party MP in the Eastern Maori seat since 1999. Under the last Labour government, he was Minister of Maori Affairs for 8 years. Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at that time, said he was well respected among Maori and had a huge knowledge of Maori issues. She said he was one of the kindest people she knew. He was hard working and did his best to improve the life of Maori people.
David Shearer, the Leader of the Opposition, said he had Mana and dignity. He was loved and respected by his Labour Party colleagues and will be missed.
It is very unusual for an MP to die while in office. There will be a by-election some time in the near future to elect a new MP in the Eastern Maori electorate.
• Mana – a Maori word meaning respect, honour, importance
• dignity – someone you admire because of the way they behave, similar to Mana
• Opposition – not the Government – the other parties
• in office – while still an MP in Parliament; office means job
• by-election – not a main election. An election for just one electorate seat because the MP has died or left Parliament.
• electorate – one MP for each electorate (area)