Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembering our comrade Piripi

Our comrade Piripi Pokaitara-Wikiriwhi was killed this time last year. He was about to go on holidays with his lover, Jen Carmichael. An SUV smacked into him- yet no one has been brought to justice. Months before, he had been on the Naked Bike Ride protesting the lack of public transport and the huge amount of resultant road deaths caused by cars in Auckland city.

This time of year will always be a sad time for us. Piripi was taken from us when he was in his prime- he was a leading organiser with the Unite Union and had built up a workplace army that was later to lead the Supersize My Pay struggle. Many delegates, activists and friends will never forget his charming friendliness, his boundless generosity and his passionate spirit to defend the poor and the victimised. We still miss him profoundly.

Piripi had also a massive thirst for culture and politics. He was one of the first signatories of the Workers Charter, was studying Maori language and culture at AUT, and had debated at several socialist forums out here in Onehunga. If Piripi had lived a longer life, he would have been one of the most tireless activists for the working class in Aotearoa. Our movement lost a great warrior and leader that day. And we lost our ambassador, our host and our friend, the man who always made everyone feel welcome and at home.

Ui mai koe ki ahau he aha te mea nui o te ao, Māku e kī atu he tangata, he tangata, he tangata!

Joe Carolan,

On behalf of Socialist Worker

Saturday 12 November 2006