Accolade for leading te reo Māori advocate

24 November 2017

Professor Pou Temara

A man who has helped create new generations of te reo Māori champions has been awarded one of the country’s highest Māori language accolades.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori - The Māori Language Commission has given the University of Waikato’s Professor Pou Temara a Lifetime Achievement award. It acknowledges his ceaseless efforts to promote Māori language at a national level.

Professor Pou Temara is a recognised tohunga and authority in Māori language, ancient karakia, kapa haka and whaikōrero. He is one of three directors of Te Panekiretanga o Te Reo - The Institute of Excellence in the Māori Language.

Born and bred in the heart of Te Urewera, he was raised by his grandparents near the rural town of Ruatāhuna. He did not speak English until he was school age. Much later, as an adult, he realised his destiny remained with the Māori world, and he went on to combine his knowledge of te reo and tikanga with academic excellence.

Professor Temara says te reo Māori was always a part of his life, then it became his life’s work. He believes the rejuvenation of the language will not happen through Māori alone: its survival depends on the assistance of all New Zealanders. “Without te reo Māori, New Zealand loses its identity, its culture. I say, if you are proud to call New Zealand home then you support the revitalisation of our native tongue -- te reo Māori to ensure that that culture is not lost.”

The University of Waikato’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Māori, Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai says Professor Temara is the epitome of the excellence he demands of his students. “This can be seen in the emergence of new generations of speakers and champions of te reo. His contributions across the oral, literary and performative genres of te reo are unsurpassed."

The Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies Dean Professor Brendan Hokowhitu says the knowledge of te reo, tikanga and Te Ao Māori make Professor Temara a tohunga and a national treasure. “Part of what makes him so unique in a university context is that there are no books that can teach what he knows. There is also no one more willing to try different methods to get the best out of his students."

Professor Temara continues his work in te reo Māori as a lecturer, expert and mentor with the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato.

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