2 Jun 2015

Tangata whenua honoured for services

9:47 pm on 2 June 2015

Former Māori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is to become a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his dedication to the promotion of Māori kaupapa for over 50 years.

Pita Sharples

Pita Sharples Photo: Supplied

As founding co-leader of the Māori Party, he has many achievements to his name, but said it was his work with the Māori Party that made him feel like he had really helped tāngata whenua.

"A lot of Māori people have not yet clicked [as to] the benefits that have come to Māori through having a Māori Party in Government," he said.

"I'm sure that what people have recommended me for is just that: that we have made a difference."

Sir Sharples helped establish the first Māori language immersion primary school in Auckland - Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi - and secured millions of dollars in funding for Māori education initiatives.

He is one of dozens of New Zealanders to be recognised for their services to Māori in the Queens Birthday honours list.

One of those, Minarapa Mitai-Ngatai, of Te Arawa, has been awarded a Queen's Service Medal.

Mr Mitai-Ngatai was recognised for his tireless efforts over at least 40 years teaching and inspiring people in Rotorua to participate in sport, music and cultural activities

The hockey coach, saxophonist and carver said he was honoured to receive the medal, but admitted it came as a surprise.

"I didn't really feel like I deserved it. There's a lot of people around me I think are a lot better than I am... I was really surprised," he said.

Mr Mitai-Ngatai remained humble about his achievements.

"While you're going through life, you don't think about all that, you just carry on with what you are doing... it's very satisfying helping others."

He has taught tamariki to excel at hockey since the 1940s, including his own mokopuna, who is now trying out for the Black Sticks.

Mr Mitai-Ngatai is also renowned for creating carvings for various marae and playing the saxophone at tangi and funeral processions, something he said mana whenua appreciate.

"A lot of people I don't even know come up and talk to me and tell me about their family, their husband, their child - whoever I've played for," he said.

"That's one of the most satisfying things that I do, playing for people at funeral processions, because they tell me it soothes their sorrow."

Another new Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit is Mauriora Kingi.

He is the current kaupapa Māori director for the Rotorua Lakes Council and has been an influential figure in advising local and central government on Māori tikanga, or customs.

The spokesperson for Te Arawa said while it was an honour to be recognised, it was important for him to acknowledge the kaumatua who passed on their wisdom and taught him all he knows.

"I want to acknowledge those old people who nurtured me and supported me in my learning.

"I would like to dedicate this award to those people who are no longer here, but they trusted their knowledge and their tuition to me," he said.

"I'd like to pass it down to younger people, that's what we're meant to be doing: holding the knowledge and then passing it down to younger generations."

Mr Kingi said it was important Māori and Pākehā had an understanding of each other's cultures, and part of his work had been to try and remove the barriers between them.

Overall, 23 people have been recognised for their services for Māori in this year's Queens Birthday honours list.

  • Companion of the Order. Dr Lionel John Wood, QSO, of Kaikoura. For services to tertiary education and Māori.
  • Officer of the Order. Edward Weller Ellison, of Dunedin. For services to Māori and conservation.
  • Officer of the Order. Professor Elizabeth Ann McKinley, of Melbourne, Australia. For services to education and Māori.
  • Officer of the Order. Te Wahapu Rapana, of Tuakau. For services to Māori.
  • Officer of the Order. Denise Sheat, of Rolleston, for services to Māori and education.

Member of the Order

  • Henri Jacques Burkhardt, of Auckland. For services to Māori.
  • Mauriora Kingi, JP, of Rotorua. For services to Māori.
  • Nigel Ngahiwi, of Levin. For services to the blind and Māori.
  • Manahi Paewai, JP, of Dannevirke. For services to Māori.
  • Nora Tawhi Rameka, of Kerikeri, for services to Māori and education.
  • Allen Wihongi, of Kamo. For services to Māori, the arts and education.
  • Tawhirimatea Te Auripo Rewita Williams, of Auckland. For services to Māori and education.

Queen's Service Medal

  • Judith Merenako Billens, of Nelson. For services to Māori.
  • Paku Jane Brown, of Gisborne. For services to Māori.
  • Harima Thelma Renei Fraser, of Auckland. For services to veterans and Māori.
  • Ronald Boyd Hudson, of Palmerston North. For services to Māori.
  • Ethel Taihaere Macpherson, of Gisborne. For services to Māori and education.
  • Minarapa Mitai-Ngatai, of Rotorua. For services to Māori and the community.
  • Stewart Tuari John James Panapa, of Hastings. For services to Māori and education.
  • Mere Neehi Pirikahu, of Whanganui. For services to Māori.
  • Herewini Selwyn Tarawa, of Taumarunui. For services to Māori.
  • Te Uru O Te Whetu Frederick Whata, of Rotorua. For services to Māori.