30 Oct 2014

Cherrington mourned north and south

7:44 pm on 30 October 2014

Māori at opposite ends of the country are mourning the passing of influential kaumatua Riki Cherrington, who has died at the age of 72.

Mr Cherrington, of Ngāpuhi, died on Monday.

Riki Cherrington

Kaumatua Riki Cherrington Photo: Supplied - SIT

More than 50 years ago he moved from Northland to Invercargill, where he was instrumental in promoting Te Reo and encouraging Māori to go on to further education.

Earlier this year, he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Riki Cherrington was the kaumatua at the University of Otago's Southland campus as well as teaching Māori studies at the Southern Institute of Technology.

The chair of Te Runanga o Ngāpuhi said he was a strong and influential leader.

Sonny Tau said Riki Cherrington never severed his ties with Ngāpuhi, despite being at the other end of the country.

"He always headed the Ngāpuhi contingent in Invercargill and was instrumental in the establishment of Te Tomairangi Marae.

"Riki headed many meetings in Invercargill and throughout the South Island for Ngāpuhi as we sought a mandate to represent the tribe in settling our Te Tiriti O Waitangi settlement against the Crown.

"He has been away from home for more than 50 years, but he's always kept that connection with home."

Mr Tau said Mr Cherrington's contribution to young Māori has been invaluable due to his great knowledge of te reo Māori and Ngāpuhi tikanga.

"He was well known for his educational work on behalf of the iwi, and with the Southern Institute of Technology, has been able to put a lot of Māori children through there and supported them as they went out into the workforce."

Mr Tau said Mr Cherrington's influence also extended to young people in prison, where he encouraged them to seek out an alternative path to crime.

"He influenced a lot of the young people who found themselves in prison, and he influenced them by being who he is, saying that there is no future for them in that world and pointing to the examples in our Māori world and to the places that they could go if they put their thoughts to things other than crime.

"His knowledge of te reo comes from being a strong leader with strong tikanaga, ethics and morals. That's where his leadership and charisma qualities come from and [this] affects others deeply."

Mr Tau said Mr Cherrington's leadership would be sorely missed in the southern part of Aotearoa.

"His choice to stay in the south and get buried down there is a testament to us all - that if we are passionate enough and spend enough time in different places we are expected to be buried down there. He was a true Māori, he stuck to his traditional iwi of Ngāpuhi, but helped everyone."