:: Tributes ::
Memorial Service Tributes


The Memorial Service for Minoru Hokari
in the Joyce Chapel,
at the Fawkner Crematorium and Memorial Park, Australia

(2004.05.12)



:: Tessa Morris-Suzuki

At the end of 2002, I went to the South Coast with Mino and some other friends, and one day, we went for a walk on a quiet and beautiful beach, which I call "the Beach in the Forest"-I don't know what its real name is. We talked about many things, about how economics seems unrelated to the real world, and about issues of racism, and about the need for a new generation of scholars who would bring big and exciting ideas to the world. And at the end of that day I thought how lucky I was to know someone like Mino. And I think that was a reaction that very many people have had. In the last few weeks I've been amazed to discover how many people at the Australian National University knew and admired and were influenced by Mino; all sorts of people whom I had no idea he'd ever met have asked about him and expressed concern. And I've been amazed, but then, on second thought, not so amazed, because that was the way Mino was. c Not a blushing violet to hide in a corner. You couldn't miss his presence, and his presence couldn't fail to influence the world around him.

I'd just like to read from-extracts from four messages that I've received in the last couple of days. (* The messages are from the following four people.)

* Ann Curthoys, Manning Clark Professor of History, Australian National University
* John Docker, adjunct visiting professor, Georgetown University
* Professor Iyotani Toshio, Hitotsubashi University
* Professor Kang Sang-Jung, The University of Tokyo

(In English) When we talked about future generation of scholars, we ended up deciding that it was the task of Mino and his friends to revolutionize the future of the world by thinking up big ideas. We were only partly joking. Even though Mino, in the end, had so little time to develop his own ideas, he has left us with something very special: an approach to history which will challenge and inspire other people for years to come. Above all, partly because of own his personality but also, I think, because of his experiences living with Aboriginal people, Mino taught us something that many people had forgotten; and that's that the world and the universe are vast and wonderful and mysterious things, and we've only just begun to understand them. The world that Mino writes about in his thesis and his book, which will be published next month, is an awe-inspiring world; it's one which evokes our curiosity and stirs our imagination. But it's not a somber world; it's full of laughter. And the spirits or life forces that inhabit the unexplored realms of Mino's universe, however powerful and mysterious they may be, are definitely spirits that possess a sense of humor.

And I'd like to try and say a little bit in Japanese.

(In Japanese) These past several months I've strongly felt just how deeply Mino's mother, father and sister loved him. That love was also reflected in Mino's wonderful personality. Mino had to travel to a faraway country to discover his own path, but even as he explored his own way in the world, he carried with him his family's love and made it his own. As a result, he became such an admirable person and was able to influence so many people around him. The lives of those who knew him have been changed by his influence. Because of him, we came to see the beauty and the potential of the world and the universe, to which we had been blind. And through his book, Mino will continue to have an impact on many others who will never meet him. In this sense, the love that you gave Mino will reach many, many people through him. I feel strongly that in the end, this love will spread throughout the world.

(In English) Finally, I'd like to read Dylan Thomas's poem "And Death Shall Have No Dominion." It's not a soft or sentimental poem; its words are rather confronting. It's a poem about courage and defiance of pain and death, but also about the splendor of life, and that's why I think it's appropriate.

And Death Shall Have No Dominion

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Through they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.



:: Steve Webb

I've only known Mino for about seven years. We first met at International House at the University of New South Wales. I'd just attended a formal dinner there at that time, because I was a member of the company board; and my daughter Philippa was looking for someone to do exchange with, in which she could get help with her Japanese and she could help the Japanese person with her English. She basically was getting fairly advanced in her course at the university, and she'd found that the student she was working with wasn't good enough in the Japanese to help her anymore. So I spoke to the master there-and there were a number of Japanese students in the House-and I said c told him my problem, and I said, "Who's the best person to talk to?" And he didn't hesitate at all; he said, "Mino. You have to talk to Mino." And I said, "How can I find Mino?" and he says, "Well, you'll find him very easily. He's tall, and he's talking a lot, and you'll find a big group of people around him." And sure enough, I just walked out in the courtyard, and I immediately knew who was Mino.

So I went out and approached him, and I just sort of stood to the side until I caught his eye. And he was havingctalking to all these young people, and I thought he wouldn't be too interested in talking to me, but he came over, and we talked. And he immediately agreed to work with my daughter. And I made my connection just a short time after that, in the short term it was very much my daughter's advantage; she was struggling with her Japanese, and he was helping her. But over the course of time, Mino started writing his PhD, and each time he'd got a chapter ready, he would pass it by Pip. And when she was here it was quite easy, and then she was in the States and they did it by e-mail, and they became extremely close friends. And she's absolutely devastated by the passing of Mino.

Mino stayed at my house a number of times, and we've got to know him very well. With myself, it's really been over the last year that I've got to know him the best. So I've spent quite a bit of time with him. And we're all going to miss him greatly. He crossed over with Pip about a year ago; early last year was the last time. She's living in New York and she was back for a week, and just by coincidence, Mino sent us an e-mail a couple of days before, saying could I stay a few days. So he came to stay a few days, and they overlapped. And I can still remember what it was like at the time: They would sort of sit around at night, talking very late into the night, about all sorts of things-Aboriginal issues, politics, history, racial differences between Japan, Australia, and the Aboriginal community. And Pip had a reasonable familiarity with the Aboriginal community as well, because when she was very young, I was doing some work for the Central Bank Council up in the Northern Territory, and she came up with me and spent a week with the Aboriginal people up there. So that was another thread that drew her and Mino together. And then last year when Mino came out of hospital in Adelaide, Pip was out visiting again, so myself and Pip and Annabelle all went down to see him and help him as much as we could.

One of the ways we're going to remember Mino- and it may seem like a minor thing, but-one of the things he introduced us to in a practical sense is hoji-cha. I presume you all drunk hoji-cha. The best hoji-cha in the world comes from Niigata. And we have a constant supply of hoji-cha from Niigata, and we always think of Mino when we drink hoji-cha, and we will continue to think of Mino when we drink hoji-cha.

Now, I think the closest moment over the last year was when I came down to see Mino in Melbourne in November, when he was actually quite well at the time. And it was the semi-final of the World Cup. And I'm a New Zealander. I try to keep it hidden, but I've been here for thirty-odd years now yet I'm a New Zealander, and when the football comes out I get pretty patriotic. The rest of the time I try to keep it quiet. And Mino didn't have a TV unfortunately; I tried to hire one, but I wasn't able to hire one. But we certainly turned on the radio, and we turned it up loud. And of course, as you'd all remember, New Zealand lost. And Mino just couldn't understand why I got so upset and devastated, and even though he was the one that was ill at the time, I was the one getting the sympathy.

I'd like to finish by reading a few words from a letter that my daughter Pip just sent the first day. And this is in a recent e-mail that she sent to Mino: "As I think about the possibilities for my life after Yale, you are one of my guiding principles. I want to live a life that makes a maximum contribution to the good of the world. What you have taught me is how to contribute through finding out what you are best at, and using those skills to improve the world around us." And Pip, writing to the family, said, "Mino will continue to be one of my guiding principles. He will live on through the people he touched-with his courage and kindness and his insightful writings. He made such an amazing contribution to the world, and his positive influence will carry on." Thank you.


:: Darrell Lewis, Debbie Rose & Chantal Jackson

To our dear friends, the Hokari family, who have become part of our family through friendship and love for our dear Mino:

We first met Mino in Darwin in 1996 when he came to see us for advice on field work. He already knew he wanted to go to Gurindji country and we were happy to provide him with advice, assistance and introductions, and even a bush swag.

Mino spent that Christmas with us in Darwin, sharing in our turkey, our gifts, and the fun of trying to do Christmas in the tropics. From that time on Mino spent most Christmases with us. One memorable year in Canberra he asked about Australian folk songs, and we had a wonderful afternoon as Darrell recited bush poetry and sang ballads. This past Christmas without Mino was not quite right for us. We missed him terribly. Over the years Mino became part of the family. Even our blue heeler cattle dog, who doesn't like strangers, came to trust Mino.

When we moved to Canberra he helped us paint our new house, and when we grew a vegetable garden he helped us eat the sweet corn.

We visited him in the bush and saw him with his Aboriginal teachers. He had developed a great rapport, and they told us that he was doing a good job. Over the years we continued to help out with bush equipment and advice. One good piece of advice was to phone up and tell someone if he was going on a dangerous trip, and to tell them again when he arrived. We will always remember when Mino rang to tell us he was travelling from Daguragu to Docker River along the bush tracks. We didn't hear from him for days, and we began to think he must have forgotten to phone up. Then came the phone call telling us of his adventures on that difficult and challenging trip. We really admired his courage and sense of adventure.

We shared his loss when his main teacher, and our long-time friend, Old Jimmy, passed away.

We enjoyed and admired many things about Mino - his energy, enthusiasm, sense of humour; his curiosity, his obvious respect for Aboriginal people, his ability to make friends, his sense of adventure, and lastly, his bravery in the face of his illness. For Chantal he brought laughter, good music, and a lightness of spirit in tough times.

We treasure the memory of campsites we shared with him in the outback at Timber Creek and at Daguragu. We spent one beautiful moon-lit night with him on top of a hill at Timber Creek, telling stories, singing songs, laughing and joking. Perhaps that is where we began to realise that he really loved Australia: its people, and its country.

We shared his excitement at his academic success, his research projects and his gaining permanent residency in Australia. He did Debbie the honour of translating her book Nourishing Terrains, and we all appreciate the fact that Japanese readers can read her words and thoughts.

We are glad that we have been able to meet his parents and have them as guests in our home. Debbie and Chantal treasure the happy memories of a roast lamb dinner with Mino and his wonderful mother and father.

Mino came to love Australia and to contribute to Australia in his research and writings in English and in Japanese. The writings will be a lasting legacy to this country. His work was innovative and held the promise of much more.

His passing is Australia's loss as well as a loss to his family and all the friends he so readily made while with us.

Our hearts are with you all at this time, as we join you in saying our good-byes to a wonderful young man.


:: Greg Dening

Thank you. Just a few words. And thank you for all those thoughts that have been given us. I speak for the universities. And I speak for Dipesh Chakrabarty, who is in Chicago; I speak for the Centre for Cultural Research; and I speak for the Humanities Research Centre.

Of just how wonderful a scholar this young man was, and how innovative his work-his work will change the way in which history is done, in a cross-cultural way. The most important thing that I remember on him in his thesis-writing was that he refused to put his thesis in to the university until the Gurindji people had approved of it. That was his gamble: His whole life and his PhD he gambled on them having approved before he would put it in for it.

And we were enormously grateful for his life, even though it was so short. And thank you for all those thoughts that have given us comfort and strength.


:: Keiko Hokari, Mother

As Minoru's mother, I would like to tell you how he lived his last forty days at hospice, after Western medicine gave up on him.

He was just amazing. He had never given up or lamented his illness, and had spent many hours in meditation and reiki, and kept being calm.

He regarded himself as a training monk. He said, "Ordinary people try to get away from pain, but since I am an ascetic, I will try to find a way out within that pain." He believed he could deepen further his inner self as he could overcome any pain. In everyone's eyes, even doctors' and nurses', he was incredibly positive, throughout all the way to the end.

I deeply regret that he died too young. If he had been able to survive, he would have shown a life which helped even more people than he actually did.

Until the very end, he kept a very clean consciousness as he always wished. He took the last breath by pushing the nurse call button to ask for morphine.

Our friend, who lost his daughter, told me, "He will always be with you, like the air, in sunshine and wind. I want all of you to feel him in the air that you breathe."@He was greatly supported and encouraged by all of you, and appreciated that you were there for him. I wanted to say thank you very much to all of you on behalf of my loving son. Thank you very much.


:: Nobuo Hokari, Father

Thank you very much for coming here today for my son, and thank you very much for sharing his memory with us.

In bed, he often mentioned the words of Ryotaro Shiba, a famous Japanese writer-also one of his favorite writers: "To me, the age of forties was truly fulfilling years." And he often said he wanted to live his age forties. That became our slogan, and while he had to deal with the severe side effect of chemo, and this word encouraged him to survive longer, as long as possible.

He passed away at the age of 32. It was a very harsh destiny for himself and for all of us, and I could not bear the pain. From now on, we will treasure the memory of his last nine months with us, and will live with this memory forever. Thank you very much for coming today.