Mov­ing farewell to Win­nie

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By ES­THER LAUAKI

De­part­ing Mana MP Win­nie La­ban fought back tears as she de­liv­ered her vale­dic­tory speech to col­leagues and a packed pub­lic gallery at Par­lia­ment last Tues­day.

Ms La­ban re­signed in Au­gust, af­ter over a decade in pol­i­tics, to take on a new role as as­sis­tant vice-chan­cel­lor Pasi­fika at Vic­to­ria Uni­ver­sity.

In her fi­nal ad­dress she re­flected on her years in of­fice, first as a Labour list MP in 1999 and later as min­is­ter of Pa­cific Is­land af­fairs and elec­torate MP for Mana.

Some fam­ily mem­bers, col­leagues and sup­port­ers in tra­di­tional dress bowed their heads in re­spect as she made an emo­tional trib­ute to her late mother and role model Emi Asi Tunupopo Patu.

‘‘ I vividly re­mem­ber my mother sit­ting in the Speaker’s gallery dur­ing my maiden speech. Mum was in a wheel­chair, sup­ported by bot­tled oxy­gen.

‘‘She had been re­leased from hos­pi­tal for the evening fol­low­ing ma­jor heart surgery. She was de­ter­mined to be with me that night. My mother re­mained my most loyal sup­porter un­til she passed away in De­cem­ber. Her courage, strength and de­ter­mi­na­tion have been my great­est in­spi­ra­tion. Tonight I hon­our her.’’

She spoke of her two pas­sions, fam­ily and her Samoan her­itage, which formed the ba­sis of many of her pub­lic speeches and much of her ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.

‘‘I was hon­oured to be the first Pa­cific Is­land woman elected to this Par­lia­ment, and later to be­come a min­is­ter of the Crown. I have of­ten shared our fam­ily story when I have spo­ken at cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies in Porirua City and up the Kapiti Coast. It gives great hope and en­cour­age­ment to im­mi­grants to know that their chil­dren can as­pire to high pub­lic of­fice.

‘‘I look for­ward to an­other child of im­mi­grants [Toke­lauan Kris Faafoi] be­ing elected as the next MP for Mana,’’ she said.

Ms La­ban has also been a rig­or­ous ad­vo­cate for women, Pa­cific and Maori peo­ple, the el­derly, and eth­nic mi­nori­ties.

Fol­low­ing the ad­dress, her niece Mar­lena De­vaux sang a Samoan aria about hope and pros­per­ity for the fu­ture.

‘‘As I leave Par­lia­ment I will not be look­ing back. I did my best for more than a decade, now it is time to move on . . . I am very ex­cited and look for­ward to start­ing work at Vic­to­ria Uni­ver­sity in Novem­ber,’’ Ms La­ban said.

The mood turned to one of cel­e­bra­tion at the fol­low­ing re­cep­tion with per­for­mances from Aotea Col­lege’s win­ning bar­ber­shop quar­tet, The Fource, and Ms De­vaux.

Photo: FAIR­FAX

Labour of love: Win­nie La­ban is con­grat­u­lated by Labour Party deputy leader An­nette King fol­low­ing her vale­dic­tory speech at Par­lia­ment last week.

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