My family and I attended Malcolm Smith’s funeral in Howick today.

Chances are you don’t know who Malcolm was. Don’t worry, he wasn’t famous or a celebrity but boy, was he a good man, and boy, did he contribute to his local community. Malcolm was one of those quietly strong, ethical people who make the world a better place.

I’ve been to more than my fair share of funerals, if I can say that without sounding sorry for myself. Today’s was a special one to me, although I wasn’t close to the family, because of the quality of tributes paid to this quiet, humble, self-effacing yet strong (yes, I say it again) and noble man. He set a fine example to us. He has left a legacy.

A friend of Malcolm’s since primary school told us how he was nicknamed (by a teacher!) ‘Machine Gun’ because of his initials MG Smith. If ever there was an ill-appointed nickname, it was that! Quietly-spoken, Malcolm was a man with ‘a small bucket of words’, as his beloved wife Christina said. Malcolm was a doer, not a debater.

Personally, I am grateful for Malcolm’s support and vision for the Maori element in our local community. He was, till the last, a believer in the value and importance to us all of Maori culture. He supported — indeed, with his architecture skills was instrumental in — the reinstatement of the little whare Torere in Howick’s Emilia Maud Nixon Garden of Memories. His logo design for Uxbridge was a bridge … to cross a gulf.

I wish he had lived to see Torere actually rebuilt. His fingerprints are all over the plans. His memory will live on.

Haere ra Malcolm. Go in peace.
A giant has passed this way.

— Peter Aranyi Monday, 13 September 2010