August 23, 2021
Des Ratima consummate advocate and front man
Soldier, political strategist, community activist, mate.
That’s how Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson is remembering Des Ratima from Ngāti Kahungunu and Rongowhakaata, who died yesterday in Whakatu, Hawke’s Bay, aged 69.
After studying at Church College in Hamilton Mr Ratima joined the army, eventually becoming regimental sergeant major for the Royal New Zealand Mechanical and Electrical Engineers and also helping to establish the first military marae in Waiouru in 1995.
Mr Jackson says they met in 1998, just before Mr Ratima retired from the army, and ended up working together to get Mr Jackson into parliament as a Mana Motuhake-Alliance MP.
He says he’s a person who seemed to live multiple lives.
"Great speaker and entertainer and a man of so many principles. He got into community work and then he was on the New Zealand Māori Council with me and (John Tamihere) in terms of Māori at the local level and then he was a community advocate. He loved his church, the Mormon church, and then he become one of the staunchest advocates in terms of Māori around Kahungunu and a leader in terms of people around there, a fabulous advocate for them, and always the consummate front man," Mr Jackson says.
He says Des Ratima continued to challenge the government, including being an advocate for those affected by the actions of Oranga Tamariki.
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