|Edwin Linder: Photo via NZHerald|
In the city I live in - Auckland, which is New Zealand's biggest city for you overseas readers - there's about 120 people living homeless on the streets in the city centre. Edwin Linder was one of them.
Last Wednesday he was viciously beaten up, and died in hospital last Saturday, from his injuries. He was 42 years old.
No one deserves to be treated like that, even those at the bottom rung of society's ladder. It makes me incredibly sad that something like this can happen in my city.
Auckland City Missioner Diane Robertson said the assault on the man was horrific. "He is known to the mission. We all find it incredibly difficult when someone that we know is assaulted."
His funeral was held yesterday at St Matthews Church, next door to the Auckland City Mission, and was attended by many of his fellow street dwellers.
The NZ Herald reports that "...Edwin's friends from the homeless community stood at the back of the church, some with heads bowed, others dressed for the occasion with an ill-fitting suit jacket or mismatched shirt and tie...
Edwin's mother's introduction was met with hellos and kia oras from members of the congregation.
"When I woke up this morning I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't want to get up and face every mother's worst nightmare." Edwin was different, even as a child, she said. "He always marched to the beat of his own drum. He lived his life the way he wanted to and we just had to accept that."
Her eulogy was followed by the latecomer with his loaf of bread and bag of flowers. "You were a street poet," he said to the congregation, recollecting their time on the street together. "Nobody should ever have attacked you," he said, before placing a cup of flowers - gathered from his travels - on top of Edwin's coffin.
A businessman called Mike then took his turn to pay his respects. He said he had known Edwin for three years. "He used to park himself outside my business on 87 Queen St. He was a bloody good guy.
"Whether I gave him $1 or $30 his reaction was always the same; 'Yeea!'."
Mike said one day after giving Edwin a $20 or $50 note, he cautioned Edwin not to spend the money on booze, drugs, or women.
Edwin's reply was he would then spend the money on a rope to hang himself with. "Because without booze, drugs or women - what's the point."
A rousing rendition of Ka Mate marked the end of the ceremony as Edwin's family carried a simple pine casket out into the waiting hearse. Mourners each took their turn to say goodbye, placing daffodils onto the coffin. "Kia ora cuz, see ya later."
A 17 year old youth has been charged over the assault with Police expecting to lay more serious charges.