November 30, 2017
Wharewaka pro-social actions remembered
A plea that the late Abe Wharewaka be remembered for more than being a flambouyant gangster.
The former Auckland Black Power president died this week aged 74 and he is being buried today in Mangere.
Mr Wharewaka drew attention in the 1970s and 80s when he used government programmes to support a range of businesses and projects, including labour hire and the building of a gang headquarters in East Tamaki.
He was charged with drug offences in 2003 and spent five years in prison.
Black Power kaumatua Dennis O'Reilly says while the narrative he died unrepentant after living in gangsters' paradise needs to be taken with a pinch of meth, and it's important to remember his strong pro-social contributions in the 1980s.
"The event at Te Puke Otara he ran was the beginning of the Black Power move against gang rape. The work cooperatives, the several businesses he started, the innovation of pre-cast concrete logs so you could quickly make houses. That became tainted I suppose in his latter life with his addiction to methamphetamine," he says.
Mr O'Reilly says the poroporoaki for Abe Wharewaka included contributions from Ratana, Ringatu, Pai Marire and Catholic ministers and was a reminder in the end everyone comes back to their whanau and the land.
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