In loving memory of
Dr. Nin Tomas
I’ve carried your memory with me for two years since you passed. Today it’s time for me to let go. Our journey has come to an end. For a long time I never wanted to let you go. That is why I have put this moment off for so long. You were my mentor. You taught me what it meant to be Māori. You taught me what it meant to be a lawyer. More importantly, you taught me not to let either one of those subsume the other. It is a lesson I have never forgotten.
We first met in 2003. You did not remember me from then, but I will never forget the experience of seeing this powerful and intelligent Māori wahine introduce me to Māori legal issues. Several years later I enrolled in your Māori land law class. You certainly remembered me from that. I was inquisitive. I was angry. You sought to control that anger and harness my inquisitive nature. I’ll always remember the best piece of advice you ever gave me – “Don’t let who you are get in the way of who you want to become.” The lesson there was clear. To be a successful advocate for Māori rights, I could not let my anger over the hurt inflicted on our people overpower me.
We worked together many times over the years. You supervised my Honours dissertation. I assisted your research on Māori customary law. Today I finish the biggest project that we started. A project that only I get to finish. It still pains me that you are not here to share this triumph. I would not be here without your guidance. Without your support. I am standing on your shoulders. I let you down. For that, I am eternally sorry. It will never happen again.