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Maori Party farewells distinguished ambassador

Monday 16 November 2009 | Published in Regional

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Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is greatly saddened by the death of Ngati Maniapoto and Waikato man, Tia Barrett.

“Tia was a distinguished ambassador for our nation,” Turia said.

“Less than a month ago, I was hosted by Tia during the Pacific Disability Ministers meeting in Rarotonga.

“It was immediately obvious that Tia was greatly loved by the people of the Cook Islands. He was greeted warmly everywhere we went, and it was evident that the strong whakapapa connections between Maori and the local people made him a very special friend to many.

“He was also greatly respected by the prime minister, Hon Jim Marurai, and Queen’s representative in Rarotonga, Sir Frederick Goodwin.

Tia had an illustrious career history, having served our nation honourably in his experience as high commissioner in both the Solomon Islands and Fiji, and also serving in Tonga, France and New Caledonia.

At home he has also held senior positions in the State Services Commission and as Director of the Maori Policy Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“His death is a great shock to us all,” Turia said. “He was a charming host, his generosity was limitless, his local knowledge impressive and his kindness was humbling.

“The Maori Party extends our heartfelt sympathies to Theresa, his children and mokopuna who will be devastated by the enormity of this loss.”

“Tia was quite simply a beautiful man – loving, respectful, and thoroughly good fun. It was a pleasure to be around him.

“Together with our whanaunga in Rarotonga, and his whanau throughout Ngati Maniapoto and Waikato, we grieve the passing of a very special person.”