Son's journey to find Māori roots following father's death

Nathan de Lautour Hone with his father, Shayne, who died in February 2015.
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Nathan de Lautour Hone with his father, Shayne, who died in February 2015.

Christchurch man Nathan de Lautour Hone was 25 when he lost his hero.

"He was like a best friend to me," Hone says of his father, who died suddenly from heart disease in February 2015.

The death of Christchurch father-of-four Shayne de Lautour sparked a journey for his oldest son, Nathan, now 27, toward finding his whakapapa.

A young Nathan de Lautour Hone with his father, Shayne.
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A young Nathan de Lautour Hone with his father, Shayne.

Following the hardest time of his life, Nathan de Lautour Hone returned to university to complete his arts and law double degree. At his arts graduation ceremony, which was his father's birthday, de Lautour carried a photograph of his father on stage and his cousin did a haka as he received his certificate.

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"I stopped going to classes, dropped a few of my law papers but managed to finish my arts degree," he said.

Christchurch man Nathan de Lautour Hone with his siblings, Connor and Jade, on their Waikato dairy farm.
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Christchurch man Nathan de Lautour Hone with his siblings, Connor and Jade, on their Waikato dairy farm.

"I lost my motivation after my dad died. I was in a bad place.

"There was a lot of depression going on."

Proud of his heritage but feeling disconnected to it here in Christchurch, de Lautour Hone packed his bags and headed north to meet his father's side of the family.

"I just had a lot of feelings of disconnection from a whole other side of me that I was proud of yet never knew or had seen in person.

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"I knew something was up and thought 'how do I come back from this?' My self-conscious told me 'you've got to go to Waikato and do something new'."

In February 2016, he delayed his studies in Christchurch and moved to Hamilton to take a full immersion Te Reo Māori language course at the University of Waikato, 80-kilometres north of the Rereahu marae in Te Kuiti.

"My old man was 'the Māori one' out of our family down here," he said. "He would often talk about our iwi and history and share a few stories about our whānau up north and our marae.

"We were supposed to go up together but it didn't happen, so moving up to connect and see it for myself was almost as much for me as it was for him."

De Lautour Hone said although his te reo still "needs a little work", he believed it was important to keep the language alive.

"We have an amazing culture that is growing and growing – kapa haka is huge now, and I just can't emphasise enough how important the language connected to it is."

De Lautour Hone said taking time to delve into his family history and be immersed in Māori culture reignited his passion for law.

"Law is about knowledge and learning," he said.

"It's been my one passion, even as a primary school kid."

He felt taking the leap to move north was meant to be.

"Everything worked out perfect. From finding a flat, enrolling, right down to getting a car and a job, it all fell into place.

"The whole chain of circumstances were so fortuitous that it was like I was rewarded for following what felt right in my heart to do."

De Lautour Hone now works at Mainfreight in Hamilton and is saving up to return to Christchurch next year to finish off the final year of his law degree.

 - Stuff

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