The thousands due at Parekura’s funeral attest to Labour’s lost leadership opportunity

Parekura Horomia has shown us what a giant among men he was.

It’s just that some people perhaps didn’t realise it – certainly not the Labour Party, which has struggled to find a leader agreeable to the rest of the country while overlooking the obvious candidate in its ranks.

The esteem in which Parekura was held is amply demonstrated by the fact half the country – and maybe more – have upped and gone to the rather remote East Coast community of Tolaga Bay to pay their respects.

It’s gotta be the biggest funeral since…

Let’s see.

We had a big one a few months ago, didn’t we?

Yep. Sir Paul Holmes, it might be remembered, died back in February, perhaps in a last-gasp attempt to escape the mawkish media madness about his dying days and his accomplishments in the days before his demise.

After his death the media amplifed its madness by devoting vast swathes of broadcasting time and newspaper space to tributes.

They gave us live TV coverage of his funeral, too, for the benefit of the 1000 people who couldn’t attend in person.

At least, 1000 is the number reported by Newstalk ZB staff at the time (although if Barry Soper was involved in producing that number … )

Broadcasting great Sir Paul Holmes has been farewelled in Auckland.

Up to a thousand people gathered at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell for this afternoon’s service.

Sadly, The Boss was unable to attend the funeral because of his commitment to meet Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Queenstown.

She was arriving that day for annual bilateral talks between the leaders.

Personally, and strictly confidentially, Alf thought John should have phoned Julia (who is a Labour politician, after all) and told her to stall her trip for a couple of days.

But here’s the thing.

A much bigger turnout is expected at the funeral for MP Parekura Horomia in Tologa Bay.

According to TV One news (here) –

Around 12,000 are expected at the 62-year-old’s funeral service today, including MPs from across Parliament.

The funeral will commence at 10am, and will take between two to three hours depending on how many people speak. Archbishop Brown Turei will lead the ceremony.

Thousands of people have already visited Hautiti Marae in Tolaga Bay, north of Gisborne, where Horomia’s body has laid since Wednesday.

Those thousands have included The Boss, who arrived at the Marae yesterday to pay his respects to the Labour MP.

Key said Horomia was a “great New Zealander”.

“He was a relatively young man, he had a big contribution still to make, even though he didn’t come from my party, I still had an awful lot of respect for him and for the work he did as a Parliamentarian,” he said.

The Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, Speaker David Carter and Act Leader John Banks also arrived yesterday.

Labour Party leader David Shearer and other Labour MPs arrived in Tolaga Bay on Wednesday.

This means nobody is running the country at the moment, although perhaps this is being done by mobile phone from Tolaga Bay.

Shearer’s remarks are noteworthy.

He said he and his colleagues are “devastated” following the death of Horomia. We all are deeply saddened, of course, but the loss is greater for Parekura’s party.

“His wisdom, passion and humour were a guiding light for Labour, and I will miss him and his advice tremendously.

“We have lost a man of immense mana, a man of conviction and of compassion. We celebrate his contribution to Aotearoa-New Zealand, and we mourn the loss of a great leader,” he said.

Alf does not want to be unkind, but can Shearer reasonably expect a similar tribute to be paid at his funeral?

He can be thankful his caucus didn’t tumble long ago to the greatness of the giant sitting right there in their midst each time they raised the question of who should lead them.

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