Teremoananuiakiwa Strickland Tahere, known best in the glbt community simply as ‚ÄúMama Tere‚ÄĚ, died on Friday afternoon in Auckland from a suspected heart attack.
The 49-year-old was a Maori Party candidate in 2005, and placed 16th on the party‚Äôs list.
Turia says she was a wonderful friend to many; an advisor; a mentor and a dedicated advocate.
"Her work within the community was unique, particularly her support for transgender people and for younger and more vulnerable members of the sex worker community,‚ÄĚ Turia says.
‚ÄúShe dedicated her life to making their lives better - taking her vans out late at night, working the streets and connecting them to whanau and to social supports.
"Our experience of Mama Tere in the outreach programme, Te Aronga Hou Inaianei, was very important in helping us to understand the significance of local solutions for local challenges.‚ÄĚ
Turia says the Maori Party was honoured to have Mama Tere as a candidate, saying she was a dynamic and articulate speaker at many political forums.
‚ÄúShe was a vital link in South Auckland; her expertise being recognised in her role as an advisor to the Manukau City Council. She was also honoured with lifetime membership of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation for her courage and consistent commitment,‚ÄĚ Turia adds.
"Mama Tere was not afraid to be outspoken, to challenge but also always to act with compassion and love. We have had some very energetic conversations over the years, always delivered with great presence and dignity.
"We will miss her greatly. Our aroha and our sincere sympathies go to the whanau of Te Tai Tokerau; of the Cook Islands and the wider gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community for whom she worked so hard."
A service will be held for Mama Tere at Whaiora Marae in Otara tomorrow (Tuesday) at 11AM, with the departure for Manukau Memorial Gardens scheduled for 1PM.