April 20, 2018
Lifetime of drama ends for Tata Parata
The man in the background of the New Zealand Maori Council for 35 years has been praised for unsung contribution to events that changed the course of Maori development.
Tata Parata died at his Stokes Valley home on Monday and was buried yesterday.
He was 83.
The former police detective from Te Atiawa and Ngai Tahu became the secretary of the New Zealand Maori Council in 1975 and continued in the role even when it ceased being part of the Department of Maori Affairs.
Former Maori Affairs deputy secretary Neville Baker says he provided invaluable support to long serving council president Sir Graham Latimer, particularly when the council was challenging the crown over land, fisheries and broadcasting claims.
"He was very capable of masterminding information that was crucial, particularly for the Maori Council's case against the crown, and while the lawyers, David Baragwanath and Sian Elias and others were out front representing along with Sir Graham, it was Tata who put together a lot of that material behind the scenes," he says.
Tata Parata was also known as a survivor of the Wahine.
When the interisland ferry hit a reef at the entrance to Wellington Harbour in April 1968, then-detective Parata was on board travelling up from Christchurch, where he had been giving evidence in a trial.
In this month’s special edition of the Police Ten One Magazine he described putting his faith in his lifejacket, leaping in the water and striking out for Eastbourne.
He left the police in 1975 and became secretary of the New Zealand Maori Council for 35 years.
He said he felt he had a lucky break and that he would do something else which was positive for his iwi and Maori.
Mr Parata also served as a Lower Hutt city councillor and as a justice of the peace.
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