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"My ambition was to create change" - Late Hon. Koro Wetere

The body of the great chief, the Hon. Koro Tainui Wetere arrived at Tūrangawaewae Marae late this afternoon. Te Kāea pays homage and reflects on his long-serving career of 26 years in Parliament.

Credit: E Tū Kahikatea

In an interview with ‘E Tu Kahikatea (2008)’ Koro Wetere says, "My ambition was to create change."

Richard Prebble spoke fondly of Wetere, "In parliament, you have to sit in twos and Koro and I were bench-mates.  He was a good bench-mate.  One of the things you want in a bench-mate is someone who’s good to be with because you're spending hours of your time in parliament.  Koro never picked un-necessary fights.  Always focus on what he wanted for Māori."

During his time as minister, the Māori language was made an official language. He said the Māori language was not only for Māori but for the whole nation.

In 1989 the "Māori Loans Affair" erupted which was an unauthorised attempt by the Department of Māori Affairs (today called Te Puni Kōkiri) to raise money overseas for Māori development.

Shane Jones says, "Back then, he was loaning money off the Crown and various corporations. We were angry at Koro. But, we weren't thinking ahead about the outcomes."

Mr Wetere also introduced the Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act which extended the Waitangi Tribunal's powers to investigate claims dating back to 1840.

In 1996 he announced his retirement to the nation.

"Today, 26 years ago I was selected as the candidate for Western Māori. So I picked today to announce that I will retire from politics."

Hundreds are expected to pay their respects to Koro Wetere at Tūrangawaewae Marae over the next few days.

On Wednesday, his body will return to Te Kūiti to his final resting place.