It was 2008 and David Farrar and I were in Gisborne to watch a debate as guests of Richard Harman. His production company was televising the debate between Derek Fox and Parekura Horomia for the TVNZ 7 Swing Seats debate.
The theatre, I forget its name now, was packed, there were rosettes, banners, and good fun being had.
It was a good old-fashioned election meeting with opposing teams sledging each other in good-natured banter.
The stage was set, everyone was ready…and then the pollies came out to play.
Derek Fox came out first, his supporters went berserk with clapping and cheering. He sat on the stool provided.
Then Parekura Horomia came out…same reception…but he stopped, stared down at what was now apparent to everyone there at the tiny little stool..he threw back his head and laughed then turned around and proceeded to ever so slowly back himself onto the stool…the audience hushed, everyone stopped and as he sat down the legs on the tiny little stool groaned and spread…and then Parekura stood up…called for a more robust chair/stool.
Everyone roared with laughter and the debate got started. Parekura even joked about it several times.
That night was probably one of the most enjoyable political occasions I have ever attended, for the raw politics, for the old-fashioned campaigning and for the enjoyment of everyone in attendance.
Afterwards we all went out to dinner and stayed eating and drinking till late into the night. It was all very convivial and hugely entertaining.
I will always remember that night and it is one of my more enduring memories of Parekura Horomia….to me he was a man to tried to achieve many great things, but more importantly was a man who knew people, you could see that during the night, it was obvious.
Labour lost a good MP yesterday. My only hope is that the person they select is even half as good as Parekura Horomia was for his electorate.
Rest in Peace.