Maraenui’s Minnie Ratima changed the lives of many.
A warranted Maori warden, it was their guiding principle “Aroha ki te tangata” – for the love of the people – that drove Minnie in her tireless work for the betterment of whanau, community, her city and the nation as a whole.
When I first met Minnie ten years ago I was struggling as a ward councillor to engage with the people of Maraenui. Minnie opened doors for me in a part of town where everyone was deeply connected, but where city councillors were regarded with suspicion and distrust. Minnie became my friend, my fellow foot soldier and my bodyguard.
Minnie was Maraenui’s housing Queen. She knew how to help families get housing. She marched on Parliament, wrote and presented submissions, even housed the homeless herself. Unstoppable when it came to fighting for Maraenui, Minnie played a key role in establishing the first Koha shed, the Mokonui community gardens, the establishment of Tu Tangata Maraenui Trust, the Nanny Brigade.
She set up a drop-in space for P addicts. She lobbied for a Liquor Ban for the shopping centre and more recently wrote a powerful submission, as a former gambler, supporting the closure of Maraenui’s only pokies establishment.
Minnie was not the result of societal success, but its opposite. Her ability to overcome hurdles many of us could never imagine made her achievements more remarkable.
Rest in peace, moe mai ra Minnie. Our world is richer for having had you in it.
26 July 1964 – 9 August 2020