Heroes in The Struggle for Justice

Important People in the Political Struggle for Aboriginal Rights

Syd Jackson - Maori Warrior
1939 - 2007
Syd Jackson
1939 - 2007

Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau
12 September 2007

Tena koe Mr Speaker, a, tena tätou katoa e te whare.

Mr Speaker, I apologize for breaking with tradition, but instead of using the General debate to slag off others in this House, I'd like to take the opportunity to recognize a man who has played a critical role in the Maori renaissance here in Aotearoa.

Some years back I was asked who the people were, who'd had a big influence on my life. I started thinking about it and ended up with a huge list, which I had to cut back so I didn't look like some dork who needed everybody else to run his life for him. What I ended up with, were these people:

- my mum Titewhai because she will always be my mum, and for her total commitment to all her whanau;

- my wife Hilda who hates me saying so, but is everything to me;

- Nelson Mandela who proved that if your spirit is strong, not even 27 years in jail can break you;

- Muhammad Ali for being young, incredibly gifted, and proud to be black;

- Maori Marsden who taught me that being Maori is a gift to be thankful for, every day of your life; and

- Syd Jackson who taught me that if you believe in something, let no one set you aside from that belief.

Well, last week we buried Syd Jackson at his home marae, Matahiwi, down Hastings way, and this is my poroporoakï to him.

Syd Jackson was a founding member of Nga Tamatoa, who people of my generation and older, will remember, as that radical Maori group back in the 70s, who fought for Maori to be taught in schools, and who dared to say that Maori had Treaty rights.

Back then Pakeha people all round the country hated Syd, and so did a whole heap of Maori too, just quietly, but Syd was never cowed by that.

He would always say that "Aotearoa is Maori land" and he would argue his point with anyone, anywhere. He never, ever took a backward step.

Syd never voted either, because he never believed in parliament, and I suspect I was a bit of a disappointment to him, probably only saved from absolute condemnation in his eyes, by my comments about John Howard, and my visit to Alice Springs to support our Aboriginal cousins.

Syd made being Maori, highly educated and fearless, his trademark.

He dominated university life, and gave up any hope of a glittering corporate career, to fight for Maori rights.

His Maori was hopeless, but he fought for the language, so that others might benefit from knowing of its beauty.

He marched to Waitangi, when Maori were afraid to talk about it publicly.

He put his freedom on the line, in land occupations at Raglan and Bastion Point.

He worked tirelessly within the Trade Union movement.

He hosted the "Liberation Talkback" show on Radio Waatea for years.

And he helped build Turuki Health Care into a powerful health provider in South Auckland.

And for all of that Mr Speaker, Syd Jackson was my hero. And now, his life is over. Funny thing is though, that I'm happy that he's died. He gave his all when he was with us. 100%. Every, single, day of his life. And even when his body was being eaten up by cancer, his mind was always sharp, and his politics never wavered.

I'm happy for him that the pain is gone, and that his wairua can return to those who have gone before him - people like Eva Rickard, Hana Te Hemara, Tom Poata, Eddie Hawk, and many, many others.

No reira e te rangatira, haere. Hoki atu ki a rätou, e tatari ana, kia kitea anoki i a koe. Ano ra e te rangatira, haere, haere, hoki atu ra.

Our lives are brighter for your having lived amongst us. Tena koe Mr Speaker. Kia ora tätou katoa.

* * * *

Syd Jackson

Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 10:00 am
Press Release: The Maori Party

Poroporoaki: Syd Jackson

4 September 2007

Dr Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia, Co-leaders Maori Party

A true agent of transformation has left us said Tariana Turia, on hearing of the death of long-time friend and veteran activist, Syd Jackson.

Syd has lived his life with a totally unswerving commitment to revolution said Mrs Turia.

Some forty years ago in 1968, it was Syd, the son of the 1937 All Black and Maori Battalion veteran Everard Jackson, who challenged the Federation of New Zealand M?ori Students that All Black tours to South Africa should be opposed as a stand against apartheid.

His leadership of Ng? Tamatoa in the 1970s, and their staunch advocacy of Brown Power, laid the foundation for a dynamic period of M?ori renaissance said Mrs Turia. Syd Jackson was the former President of the Auckland Maori Students Union and activist group Nga Tamatoa.

We think of the inspiration of Syd in firmly placing Te Tiriti o Waitangi on the political agenda in all spheres said Dr Pita Sharples. He spearheaded the drive for learning te reo M?ori, bringing social awareness to the marginalisation of Mäori in New Zealand while at the same time being such a proud advocate of tino rangatiratanga.

Syd has made an enormous political impact on Aotearoa, particularly through his role in the union movement said Dr Sharples. He had the keen intellect to grasp complex issues, a quality which you would see coming through in campaigns such as encouraging Libya to boycott trade with New Zealand, or protesting against APEC\.

In more recent years, he brought that same passion and zeal to the health movement, establishing Turuki Healthcare as a pioneering organisation to deliver affordable and accessible healthcare for the people of South Auckland" said Dr Sharples, Member of Parliament for Tamaki Makaurau.

Syd Jackson was also chairperson of Te Kupenga o Hoturoa - the first M?ori sponsored PHO; and a Director of Te Roopu Huihuinga Hauora.

The tragic irony is that right up until the end, Syd pursued his crusade against cancer not just for his own powerful determination to live but also to argue for the rights for all M?ori cancer sufferers said Mrs Turia.

Syd will be very, very sadly missed said Mrs Turia. His Liberation Talkback radioshow gave us all heart to act, to take a stand, to look after our people.

Our love and compassion goes to his darling Deirdre, the Jackson wh?nau, Ng?ti Kahunungu and Ng?ti Porou who have shared a remarkable man with us - a man who truly dedicated his life to staying true to the kaupapa, to tino rangatiratanga. His legacy has been and will continue to be profound.

* * * *

NOTE: From Gary Foley

Syd Jackson was also a close friend of the Australian Indigenous struggle. He visited Australia in the early 1970s and developed close friendships with radical indigenous activists in Redfern, Brisbane and Melbourne. There were extremely close links between the Nga Tamatoa movement and Black Power activists during the 1970s. These close relations led to Australian indigenous activists participating in the Maori Land Rights March of 1974, the anti-apartheid demonstrations in NZ in 1981, as well as many other actions..

In the late 70s and early 80s Syd was involved along with indigenous activists from throughout the Pacific region in developing stronger links between the independence movements of many Pacific nations. He was a strong, determined and proud Maori warrior.

Syd Jackson will be sadly missed by his numerous Australian activist friends.

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