University of Waikato kaumātua, Koro Taki Turner honoured with posthumous medal

Takiri mai te Ata Turner’s whānau was presented with the University of Waikato Medal for his exemplary leadership and service.

09 May 2024

In recognition of his substantial and exemplary contribution to the University of Waikato as kaumātua and for his service to the broader community, Takiri mai te Ata Turner’s whānau was presented with a posthumous presentation of the University of Waikato Medal. 

Koro Taki at the opening of The Pā in 2023. Photo credit: Erica Sinclair Photography.

Koro Taki passed away last week following a period of illness and his tangihanga was held over the weekend at Tūrangawaewae Marae. 

Appointed kaumātua of the University in September 2015, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley says Koro Taki quickly immersed himself in conversations about the enormous potential to reshape and modernise the Hamilton campus, and to develop a new marae at its heart.  

With Koro Taki’s support of this early vision, and endorsement from Kīngi Tūheitia, the concept was developed and refined in consultation with many stakeholders over subsequent years. Koro Taki guided the University through this process, celebrating the key milestones throughout the build and maintaining the vision for the opening of The Pā in 2023.   

“I know it gave Koro Taki great pride to have been involved with The Pā Project from ideation all the way through to its completion and the first Graduation ceremonies held there,” says Professor Quigley. 

“He also took a keen interest in our activities in the Bay of Plenty, and at the invitation of our Tauranga kaumātua, Matua Tamati Tata, Koro Taki helped to lead the karakia for the opening of our Tauranga campus in 2019.” 

Koro Taki attended all the University’s important moments, from the celebrations of Kīngitanga Day, Matariki and Distinguished Alumni Awards, to guiding and supporting the University community in times of grief at the loss of staff members and students. However, it was at Graduation ceremonies that he was the most visible to the wider Waikato community.  

“Thousands of staff, students and alumni will have fond memories of Koro Taki presiding over Graduation ceremonies, with his particular blend of gravitas and humour, acknowledging the formality of the occasion while diffusing any nervous tension for graduands preparing to cross the stage.” 

While Koro Taki was a constant presence at the University of Waikato, he was actively involved in other organisations across the Waikato rohe alongside his commitment to the Kīngitanga and Waikato-Tainui.   

He served as kaumātua for Hamilton Girls’ High School and St Paul’s Collegiate, as a trustee for Community Waikato, and as Chair of Kaumātua Kaunihera, the Waikato District Health Board’s Elders Council, to name a few. He wore many hats and was well-known and loved by many as a result.  



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