The outpouring of grief for Wharehuia Milroy continues at Mataatua Marae in Rotorua. Among the mourners were the reo Māori students who he nurtured to excel in the language.
Sir Timoti Karetu says, “I feel very alone. He always had my back covered.”
Milroy' absence is being keenly felt by other celebrated exponents of te reo Māori who are present.
Educator Hana O'Regan says, “I have no idea how I am going to live in a world without him but he will always have a place in my heart...his teachings [were] at the highest level.”
Panekiretanga started in 2004, aiming to nurture those on a mission to entrench the Māori language.
Tutor Pānia Papa says, “It pleases me to know what they started will continue and we will ensure that we move their wishes forward.”
However, while the fight to restore te reo Māori continues, Panekiretanga itself is due to end this year.
“The institute will be shut down by August. Te Wānanga o Aotearoa wants to take on a new beast, that's what they will pursue,” says Karetu.
It is clear Milroy's students held him in the greatest esteem.
Iwi leader Wetini Mitai Ngatai says, “Go in peace koro, there will be lots of tears but your sister still remains for the family to lean on.”
Meanwhile, Kahurangi Maxwell reflects, “He wasn't selfish with his knowledge, there were no borders, it was about everyone as well as his iwi. We are the lucky ones.”