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Tuesday 09 November 2010


Tributes to Mahinarangi Tocker

Posted in: Community
By Matt Akersten - 16th April 2008

qtocker2.jpg
Mahinarangi Tocker
The death of Mahinarangi Tocker was marked yesterday with a minute's silence in Parliament, and tributes from people of many walks of Kiwi life.

One of New Zealand's most talented and prolific singer/songwriters left us yesterday - peacefully and surrounded by loved ones.

Tocker achieved much in her 52 years, including writing almost 600 songs, which lead to the government recognising her contribution to New Zealand music by awarding her the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Years Honours 2008 - an award she was scheduled to receive in a special ceremony today. Along her musical journey, she made many friends and fans, especially amongst the LGBT community, which she always said she was proud to be a part of.

"There are few people I've known who could outdo me in the minority stakes," Philip Patston's tribute begins. "She trumped me well and truly - my gay, disabled, vegetarian comedian status could never beat her place as a Maori, lesbian, crazy (her words) musician. And she was a comedian as well, really - her humour knew no bounds. Though our paths crossed too few times, when they did it was always hilarious.

I will always have the upmost respect for this gorgeous woman who so staunchly supported the kaupapa of mental health, queer rights and musicianship, yet never let these labels define her. She was, is and always will be a beautiful soul who experienced life uniquely and expressed herself creatively, richly and dynamically."

Tai Waru, best known as Burn - one half of Drag King duo Slash and Burn - knew Mahinarangi from performance events. "She was open about her partner, and was a women who was totally out there for us all. It's hard to find words for what she meant to all of us. I'm a big fan. I totally adored her."

Auckland Central MP Judith Tizard also expressed her deep sorrow. "Mahinarangi was an inspirational musician and breathtaking singer. Her original compositions and soaring voice touched hearts and minds, both at home and overseas. She worked hard to create original music true to herself and her heritage," she said.

Mahinarangi was "a champion of diversity", and a keen supporter of events like the Big Gay Out and the Candlelight Memorial, says the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. "Mahinarangi was an active supporter of the Foundation's work in creating supportive environments for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Her annual appearances at the Big Gay Out were important to us. In 2007, she told the Central Leader, "I think it's important for those of us who are queer to be recognised as important members of the community, "said Mark Henrickson, Chair of the NZAF Board of Trustees.

"She will be sadly missed by the gay and HIV positive community, as Mahinarangi was a strong champion, in her own words, of 'diversity without Judgement'. "Her contribution to the well-being of GLBT was immense in Aotearoa and will be felt long after her passing. We will miss her dearly," says NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier.

"What a sad loss to our community," writes OUTline manager Neil Denney. "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."

Mahinarangi's daughter Hinewairangi Tocker-Fenton says her mother will be taken to the Marae at Taumarunui tomorrow, and buried at the Taumarunui cemetery on Saturday. "It is a very difficult time for me and my family and we are struggling to come to terms with our loss," she writes.

"My mother was a wonderful woman with a beautiful soul, a talented artist, a terrific friend and a fabulous mum. We will all miss her greatly. Ka kite taku mama ataahua."


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Matt Akersten - 16th April 2008