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Wednesday 08 October 2008


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15th April 2008

Haere ra Mahinarangi, you’ll be missed

Posted by: Kitten Power

What a harrowing loss.  

Mahinarangi Tocker has passed away at North Shore Hospital this afternoon after having a massive asthma attack last week.  We are told she died peacefully.

The first time I saw her perform live was at the first-ever Big Gay Out I went to, when I was a sorta-straight girl seriously questioning my sexuality.  I can recall her standing on the stage, I think she was actually barefoot, just so laid back and churning out one beautiful song after another.  She paid tribute to her partner, saying she had been with her for about 15 years.  That really struck me - and sparked the thought that maybe I could find a woman to be with and love for a long time.

The next time I saw Mahinarangi perform she completely blew my mind.  It was at the Auckland performance of the musical tribute to the poet Hone Tuwhare that Charlotte Yates collaborated.  The late Hone Tuwhare was my favourite poet and hearing his inspired words to music was an incredible experience, intensified by the fact that Tuwhare himself, despite being ill, made the trek up to Auckland from the depths of Otago.

Mahinarangi’s take on the poem ”A Northland Heart-Scape” was breathtaking.  I can still recall the way her voice ascended then crashed in a heart-rendering finale.

My thoughts are with her partner.  I hope she knows how much Mahinarangi was loved and respected by many New Zealanders, gay or not.

I don’t have the words to pay tribute to such a life, so I’ll let Mahinarangi speak for herself, in a poem “Never” which was in her 2001 collection “Lyrics Without Melody”.

a breath is a breath
is a sound is a sigh
is a knot in my belly
that I’ll never define
I’ll take all I get
and get all I give
to be caught in the bow
of a ship I’ll not sail
and the season of truth
is a season of change
as abrupt and as sharp
as a thunderous rain

a kiss is a kiss
is a heart beat to rest
in a clotted vein best
returned

and my song is your song
a verse of a chorus
to be with you and under
we walk the hand walk
and we talk the mouth smooth
to the end of an earth
that I don’t realise
in adventures and toil
you’ll be precious to spoil
and I’ll lay in your arms
to hide
away from avoidance
away from the known
that make me forgive
what I need to forget
as in wild winter
as winter in wild
here we are stormed
and treacherous…
to lie in together
you die in my lap
we are wrapped in deception
and truth…

a sigh is a sigh is a breath is a breath is a knot in my belly that I cannot digest…

Tags: General

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Neil Denney // Apr 15, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    What a sad loss to our community. Haere ra, aroha nui Mahinarangi, aroha nui to your partner, family and whanau. You will be sadly missed by all who knew you and all who knew and loved your music.

  • 2 Rewa Muriwai // Apr 15, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Tinopouri i taku ngakau?…haere ,Haere,Haere,…i call to the Heavens to carry you to peace.
    I looked to the sky today about 11:30am and thought?…”Hmmm, something hsa happened?…As the sky lit up with a magnificent glow followed by a deep strangley comforting roll of thunder?…That was no ordinary rainfall,thunder & Lightening!!!…It was a message that an amazing,humble,great,tender,talented,Mother,Lover,friend,teacher,Hero,Musician,Kuia,Aunty,…The unsung “HERO”…A Leader amoung leaders…A Healer…Has passed over.
    Peace be with you taku hoa…Aroha Aroha Aroha
    I have & will always admire & Lokk up to you as a strong Maori Lesbian Artist and a beautiful soul.
    My heart weeps.
    Thankyou!
    Rewa

  • 3 Steve Gray // Apr 15, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    ………………words fail me. I am so very sad, as are many people i now.

  • 4 RAchel Dawick // Apr 16, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve just heard from a friend of this news………I’m so many miles away …..but I wanted to pay tribute to a woman i met a few years ago when I was singing at the Canterbury Folk Festival…..here was a strong,loving,undeniably happy, intoxicating woman who gave all those who have heard her sing pure beauty…..i miss aotearoa……and I will miss such a good heart…….but i know that she has and continues to give many more smiles and a spirit of truth……rachel

  • 5 Slash and Burn - Drag kings // Apr 16, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    On the Big Gay Out 2006, we performed our second to last song that year in front of a very rocking crowd, then hopping off stage, sweating and sucking in air, to go backstage, and we saw her. In among the canvas insides, we whispered like Kindergarten kids that that was her, but we did not turn confidently at that moment to greet her. Until she commented on our costumes. We both smiled wide smiles, and nodding too much as if a Queen was before us. I can’t believe it! I said, breathing funny and almost spitting at Burn. And I made silly small talk in the presence of a great woman who gave us some moments of her beautiful time that day at the BGO. We got her autograph on her C.D that she gave to us, for free with a kind nod full of humility. Mahinarangi Tocker, you have inspired us both to do what we do to this day and more. Through the years you have given your beautiful gracious intelligent compassionate insight to all performers. But to us as wahine performers Maori/Gay or otherwise a memory of defined difference will always be embedded in our hearts. You remain always a separated amazing talent that we will celebrate and remember each time we pick up a mic, stand on stage and open our mouths to sing. Our love to your whanau and your partner. May you travel to your place of peace and rest with ease Mahinarangi, and for your time to us, we thank you deeply. …..Slash and Burn.

  • 6 Jax // Apr 16, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    My thoughts are with her partner, and family. She was an inspiration, and we have lost a great! She will not be forgotten. Rest in Peace.

  • 7 AngeW // Apr 16, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    I am so sad to hear the news about Mahinarangi. How strong and wonderful her voice, I’m glad she shared it with us.

  • 8 sonja // Apr 17, 2008 at 5:34 am

    e hoa,

    you live through your art!

    here’s an interview we did in 2001.
    http://www.bahai-library.com/bafa/t/tocker.htm

    and an artwork started on in 2005 (www.sonjavank.com/flash/breath) and have yet to finish, Mahina, now I owe it to you to finish this properly, ne?
    e koe, mo te ngakau-nui

    x, sonja

  • 9 Marama T // Apr 18, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Beautiful woman, beautiful music never ever will be forgotten. My partner and I send our love and regards to her partner and whanau. May you rest in peace Mahina.
    Marama T

  • 10 Neil Hellewell // Apr 18, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    A fantastic woman who gave of herself to help others. Her gentle spirit inspired so many people, and the work she did for many people especially combating discrimination for people living with mental health issues is something that her whanau need to be so very proud of. Blessings and love - all our prayers are with you. Neil Hellewell and the parish of All Saints MCC in Christchurch

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