Joe Hawke, leader of the Takaparawhau occupation, has died

Joe Hawke – the prominent kaumātua and activist who led the long-running Takaparawhau occupation of Auckland’s Bastion Point in the late 1970s – has died aged 82.

Joe Hawke at Ihumatao in 2019
Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Born in Tāmaki Makaurau in 1940, Joseph Parata Hohepa Hawke of Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei, led his people in their efforts to reclaim their lands and became an MP.

He had been involved in land issues in his role as secretary of Te Matakite o Aotearoa, in the land march led by Dame Whina Cooper in 1975, before Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei marched on their ancestral land on the Auckland waterfront in January 1977 and began an occupation that lasted 506 days.

He was among 222 people arrested in May 1978 when the police, backed by the military, evicted protesters from their whenua.


In archival audio recorded during the protest]he showed his relentless commitment to the recovery and return of whenua Māori – the land of his people – and to equality.

“We are landless in our own land, Takaparawha means a lot to our people. The struggle to hold this land is the biggest struggle our people have faced in many years. To lose this last piece of land would be a mortal blow to the mana, honor and dignity of the Ngāti Whātua people.

“We’re ready to go all the way because we have the legal right to do so,” Hawke said in 1977.

In 1987 he took the Bastion Point claim to the Waitangi Tribunal and had the satisfaction of seeing the Tribunal rule in favor of Ngāti Whātua and the whenua returned.

He was a louse for the protests and demonstrations afterwards – an important pillar of the Maori movements.

In the 1990s Hawke became a director of companies involved in Maori development, and in 1996 he entered Parliament as a Labor Party list MP, before retiring from politics in 2002.

In 2008 he was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his service to Maori and the community.

And will range you, moe mai rā.

About Elaine Morales

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