Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi award Honorary Doctorates to distinguished Māori leaders
Respected Māori leaders in their fields have been awarded Honorary Doctorates of Philosophy in Māori Development by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, for outstanding academic achievement, and endeavours over a lifetime.
The recipients are: Dame Georgina Kingi DNZM, for a lifetime of service to Māori education, Māori leadership, language and culture; Te Kei Wilson Merito OZNM, for a lifetime of dedicated service to his tribes, to Māori, to education, to the Māori language, and to the environment; and Justice Sir Joseph Williams, KNZM for services to his tribes, Māori and the law, te reo Māori and Māori legal education.
At a special ceremony held in Whakatāne, the prestigious awards were presented to the recipients by recently retired Awanuiārangi Council Chair, Sir Hirini Moko Mead, his successor, Judge Layne Harvey, and Chief Executive Officer, Professor Wiremu Doherty.
Sir Hirini Moko Mead says it is a privilege to recognise the three individuals who have made a significant contribution to te Ao Māori and Aotearoa as a whole.
“They have been pioneers in establishing the equality of Māori intellectual tradition alongside the knowledge base of others and awarding them an Honorary Doctorate from our indigenous wānanga today is one way for us to recognise this,” says Sir Hirini.
Professor Doherty says today’s recipients are looked on as role models for tauira (students) of Awanuiārangi.
“Their hard work and commitment in various fields over several decades have impacted positive and enduring change in our communities and beyond,” he says.
“We hope our future leaders will be inspired by the achievements of our Honorary Doctorate recipients to have similar impacts in their own pursuits.”
This year’s recipients join a distinguished group of Awanuiārangi Honorary Doctorate alumni including Sir Harawira Tiri Gardiner, Dr Te Onehou Eliza Phillis, Dr Allan R Parker, Dr Joe Mason, Dr Pou Temara, Dr Hauata Palmer, Dr Kihi Ngatai, Dr Te Ariki Mei, Judge Layne Harvey, Dr Ann (Mereana) Selby, and Dr Hekenukumai Busby.
About the 2020 Honorary Doctorates of Philosophy in Māori Development recipients
Dame Georgina Kingi, Ngāti Pūkeko, Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tai
The fourth eldest of 12 children, Dame Georgina Kingi is a respected New Zealand educator who was raised in Poroporo, south of Whakatāne, by her parents Romana and Kani Kingi. She initially attended Te Poroporo native school – where she developed an early interest in teaching and education. She then attended St Joesph’s Māori Girls College in Napier, leaving to pursue a teaching qualification at the University of Auckland.
Dame Georgina began teaching at St Joseph's Māori Girls' College in 1969, initially as Assistant Teacher, then Head of Department – Māori, Head Mistress, and Deputy Principal. She became the Principal of the school in 1987, a role she has occupied since.
A licensed interpreter of the Māori language, a founding member and former Chairwoman of the Hawke's Bay Māori Language Association, and a representative on the Māori syllabus committee; Dame Georgina’s contributions to education and our indigenous language are significant.
In 1993, Dame Georgina was awarded the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal and was made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for Public Services in the 2004 New Year Honours. In the 2017 New Year Honours, she was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to Māori and education. She was also awarded the Benedictv XVI Pont. Maximvs 2006 (Papal Medal).
Throughout her career, Dame Georgina has been driven by a simple philosophy of providing the best possible education to Māori girls, the establishment of high standards and the maintenance of excellence. These are values which have now positioned St Joseph’s Māori Girls College as one of the best performing schools in Aotearoa.
Te Kei Wilson Merito NZOM, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Rangataua, Ngāti Pūkeko
An expert orator, historian, traditional leader and a custodian of customary knowledge, Te Kei Wilson Merito is highly regarded as a tribal expert of tikanga, te reo and mātauranga Māori.
Born at Te Pāhou settlement in Whakatāne, Te Kei served in the New Zealand Army for 25 years, with active service in Malaya, Borneo, South Vietnam and garrison duties in Singapore. He also spent 11 years in Waiouru as a Senior Instructor at the Army Schools. During his tour to South Vietnam and Singapore, he was a Company Sergeant Major with the rank of Warrant Officer II, and from 1979 to 1982, he was appointed as the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) 6th Hauraki Infantry Regiment.
In 1986, he was employed by the Whakatāne District Council, firstly as the Māori Land Rates Officer, followed by appointment as the Whakatāne District Rates Officer, and eventually as the Revenue Accountant. In 1988, he took up the position of Senior Manager Māori Conservation ethics Bay of Plenty Conservancy, Rotorua, with the Department of Conservation. In 1988, he was appointed as Ngāti Rangataua representative on the Ngāti Awa tribal governance entity, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and is still a serving member, a position he has continuously held with distinction for 32 years. He has also served as Chairperson of Te Kōmiti Taiao, Deputy Chairman and then Chairman of the Rūnanga, and as Chairman of the Rūrima Islands Trust.
Te Kei Wilson Merito is a member of the council of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, and the inaugural and current Chairman of Te Tapa-toru ā-Toi, the post- settlement Joint Management Committee reporting directly to the Minister of Conservation. He was instrumental in developing and implementing the committee's ‘Kawa me Nga Tikanga - Protocol and Procedure Guidelines' to help the committee fulfil its role under the Ngāti Awa Claims Settlement Act 2005. He was key in designing and implementing Te Tapui Tokotoru Conservation Management Plan, and led the establishment of the nationwide Te Pukenga Atawahi Cultural Competency training programme Māori language policy for the Department of Conservation.
Te Kei is also the President of Te Arawa Māori Returned Services League. In 2017, he was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit, NZMSM for services to Māori and conservation.
Justice Sir Joseph Williams, Ngāti Pūkenga, Te Arawa
Born in Wairoa, Justice Sir Joseph Williams has long been acknowledged as the leading Māori jurist of his generation, introducing a critical blend of intellectual rigour and tikanga to the legal system. That Māori saw, and continue to see, tikanga as having an integral place in the common law, remains a key driver for Justice Williams.
He holds a Bachelor of Laws from Victoria University, and a Master of Laws (Honours) from the University of British Columbia. During this period, he was appointed the first Māori junior Law lecturer at Victoria University. In 1988, he joined Kensington Swan to lead the first Māori and Treaty issues teams in a major law firm and became a partner in 1992. In 1994, he established what became Walters Williams & Co, and the premier Māori issues law practice overseeing the prosecution of many of the largest iwi, hapū and whānau claims to the Waitangi Tribunal and settlement negotiations.
In 1999, Justice Williams became the youngest, and the first indigenous and te reo Māori-speaking Chief Judge of the Māori Land Court. He was appointed Deputy Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal in 2000, becoming Chairperson in 2004. In 2008, he was appointed the first te reo Māori-speaking judge of the High Court. In 2017, he became the second person of Māori descent, and the first Te Reo Māori speaker appointed as judge of the Court of Appeal. This was followed in May 2019 by his appointment as the first Māori to the Supreme Court.
Justice Williams has been a visiting professor at the William D Richardson Law School at the University of Hawaii; a kaiāwhina at Te Wānanga o Raukawa; a Fellow in the Faculty of Law, Victoria University; an honorary lecturer, at the Faculty of Law, Waikato University; an adjunct professor at the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre at Canterbury University and a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. In 2000, he was awarded a Te Kawa a Maui Millennium Prize, and then a Distinguished Alumni prize in 2006 by Victoria University of Wellington. He was a founding member and Vice-President of Te Hunga Roia Māori and president of Te Rūnanga Roia o Tāmaki Makaurau. In the 2020 New Year Honours, he was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the judiciary.