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Aunty Wai laid to rest at Waikumete

Thu 3 Oct 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News

'Aunty' Wai Mason was buried late yesterday afternoon after a three-day tangi held at Auckland's Te Unga Waka marae. Mason, who had been on dialysis treatment for some time, was kaumatua to the NZ AIDS Foundation, an organisation she had been involved with for over two decades. Among the groups to pay their respects was a large contingent from the glbti and HIV communities which was welcomed onto the marae on Tuesday afternoon. In heartfelt and passionate korero speakers, who included Richard Tankersley and Levi Bristow, spoke of her directness when important things like safe sex needed to be discussed. "She didn't stand on ceremony, she just told it like it was," said Tankersley. Mason was also remembered as readily embracing those from the glbti communities. "She didn't care whether you were gay or straight or whatever you were in life, she saw into your heart. We were all her mokopuna." It was Mason's home marae, Te Unga Waka in Epsom, which hosted many HIV/AIDS hui right from the early days of the HIV epidemic when many organisations turned away from those infected or those struggling to come to terms with the out of control and deadly epidemic. Mason's involvement with HIV matters grew from that start. In a small gesture of special respect the glbti speakers held a rakau korero, or talking stick, which was presented to the gay communities by a Northland marae. Mason had been part of the group which had accepted it on the communities' behalf. It was eventually named, by a group which convened in Wellington, Te Ahi Kaaroa. On the second night of the tangi, in accordance with Aunty Wai's wishes that there be some kind of a show to counterpoint the solemnity of the occasion, a small but loud and lively drag show was performed in the late evening. Pacific Island and Maori performers presented traditional cultural dances and Cindy of Samoa belted out a series of rousing gay anthems. As the tangi drew to a close Mason was finally farewelled late yesterday afternoon and her casket was transported to Waikumete Cemetery where she was laid to rest in the Maori area of the grounds.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 3rd October 2013 - 11:10am

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