By Willie Jackson
"Maori can't be racist, we can have prejudices, but we can't be racist."
That's what Reverend Dr Hone Kaa used to say when the subject of racism came up.
It was a view that infuriated Pakeha but it's a view worth remembering him by after his death last weekend.
His passing had us reflecting on his tremendous work in broadcasting, the Anglican Church and in the latter part of his life his work to protect abused children.
Hone Kaa was a fearless and courageous fighter for Maori rights.
His opinion that Maori couldn't be racist was based on the fact that there was a huge inequity between Maori and Pakeha in this country.
And any definition of racism will tell you that power is a major part of it and Maori have no power in this country.
His perspective led to huge debates with, predictably, Hone being called the racist, but he always held his position and out-debated just about everyone.
He used the debate to advance Maori interests, to point out the historical injustices that Maori have suffered.
And even though I disagreed with Hone's point that Maori can't be racist it was worth having the debate just to point out all the racism against Maori, which far exceeded Maori racism against Pakeha.
He debated issues pertaining to justice for Maori on radio, television and in the church and was probably the leading Maori interviewer along with Derek Fox through the 1980s and 90s.
He was the manager of the first Maori radio station in Auckland, Aotearoa Radio, and was the first chairman of the Maori radio network Te Whakaruruhau.
In the church he not only championed Maori rights but also gay rights and conducted civil unions. Some say his liberal attitude towards homosexuals and his pro-Maori stance prevented him from fulfilling the potential he showed earlier in his career of becoming a bishop.
The last part of his life was dedicated to saving our kids.
He became the chairman of Te Kahui Mana Ririki, an organisation set up in response to the abuse happening to Maori kids.
He became a passionate defender of rights for children a supporter of the anti-smacking bill and his last days were spent criticising and challenging Maori to be better parents and non-violent.
This stance didn't exactly make him very popular, particularly with Maori men, but then popularity was something Hone had forsaken many years ago.
He will always be remembered as a passionate advocate for Maori.
No reira e te whanaunga e Hone, moe mai ra.
Manukau Courier, 18th April 2012.