National | Tangihanga

Des Ratima honoured with a military tangihanga

Des Ratima died on August 22 at the age of 69. Due to Covid restrictions, his whānau wasn’t able to have a funeral service but today his loved ones were able to celebrate his life before he was taken in military-style from his chapel to the Pakiaka urupa.

Ratima belongs to the people of Ngāti Kahungunu,​Te Rangikoianake​, Rongowhakaata and Te Whānau a Kai. He studied at Church College in Hamilton before embarking on a military career where he was instrumental in setting up the first military marae in Waiouru in 1995. He ventured into politics with the Alliance Party and Mana Motuhake Party and went on to become the mayor of Whakatū.

“Des Ratima was bought up in the community of Whakatū and, after 25 years of service in the New Zealand Army as an electrical instructor, he returned to Whakatu with one purpose in mind, to do good,” Ngāti Kahungunu chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana says.

In 2018, the government made him an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in honour of his achievements. But it was the Māori community of Whakatu that meant most to Ratima, when its primary enterprise, the Whakatu Freezing Works, closed its doors and employment fell, leaving devastation in its wake.

He once described Oranga Tamariki as a runaway train that needed to be stopped. He worked with Police and Oranga Tamariki at Hawke's Bay Hospital to prevent newborn infants from being taken away from Māori families.

Always by his side was his wife Evelyn serving their community as representatives of their faith as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.