1492768154589 - One year on from Porirua’s siege: A love story to the city that took me in

One year on from Porirua’s siege: A love story to the city that took me in

One year ago I was a cub reporter, 11 days into the job, and the first at the Waitangirua siege.

Fresh out of journalism school, I was sent to Porirua for eight weeks, and, in less than a fortnight, I was in the thick of one of the year’s biggest stories.

Still here one year on, I revisited some of the people I met during the siege and it was like meeting old friends.

READ MORE:
* Tales from the front line
* Sun sets on armed stand
* Te Kira family apologise for siege

Greeting Pania Houkamau-Ngaheu was like coming home. A long hug, not a handshake, started our second interview.

A year ago, at her marae, she told me I looked tired. The previous day I had lasted nearly 13 hours within the Kokiri Cres cordon and I was spent and sad.

I was there when Paul Basham​ announced Pita Te Kira was dead. I saw the people, who had been driven from their homes, mourn him.

I saw tears from police officer Mike Tahere.

On Friday, within the cordon, Matua Pusa​ Finau let me into his house to charge my phone and for 8 hours I based myself in his living room. His wife made me lunch and, as the cold crept in, his daughter gave me a sweatshirt.

She boosted me over a fence to get closer to the house. I had given up smoking a year previously but we shared a cigarette in the dark.

It wasn’t unusual. The people welcomed us all in. A Dominion Post photographer was granted full access to a private home and only told to lock the door as he left.

On the Sunday, two days after he made his stand, I saw Pita’s body being taken from the house. It seemed such a small body to have caused such big trouble.

One year ago, I fell in love with Porirua City. For its people and the way they took me in and let me tell their stories of the siege.

One year on, I just hope I told them well.

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.

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