31 Mar 2014

Advocate for deaf Maori dies

8:02 pm on 31 March 2014

Aotearoa's deaf community is mourning the death of Patrick Wikiriwhi Thompson, who was a strong advocate for deaf Maori. He was 50.

Mr Thompson, of Ngati Paoa and Ngati Whanaunga, worked with the deaf Maori community for more than 20 years as an educator, social worker and advocate, including in his most recent role as an educator associate at Kelson Boys' High School's Deaf Unit.

Deaf Aotearoa chief executive Lachlan Keating said deaf Maori were better off because of Mr Thompson's advocacy.

Mr Thompson committed his life to helping deaf Maori, and he did it in a quiet and unobtrusive way, not wanting to seek any rewards, Mr Keating said. He broke down many barriers for his community and made a real difference.

At Mr Thompson's tangihanga [funeral] at Wharekawa Marae on Monday, Mr Keating said a number of deaf teenage Maori were saddened by Mr Thompson's passing and that he had been receiving condolence messages from throughout New Zealand.

Minister of Disability Issues Tariana Turia said she relied on Mr Thompson's expert advice and experience as Kaiwhakahaere for Ngati Turi o Aotearoa. He was also a key member of a number of organisations, including Te Roopu Wairoa Trust and an expert advisory group working with government agencies on how to promote and maintain New Zealand Sign Language.

Mr Thompson was awarded the Queens Service Medal for services to Maori and the deaf community in 2012.