Acknowledgement of the passing of Honorary Doctorate recipient, Tā Wira Gardiner

18 Mar 2022

The University of Waikato acknowledges with great sadness the passing of Sir Harawira (Wira) Gardiner (Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pikiao).

Sir Harawira Gardiner

E te Mate kei whea tōu wero? E te Reinga kei whea tōu wikitōria? Pōkokōhua e mate ko te mate! Hiko te uira papā te whatitiri, he whetū ki raro rā rū ana te whenua. Haruru tapuwae, haruru tapuwae. Haruru kau ana te tau o taku ate, taku ate, hei! Ate hei! Ate hei hā hei!

Kua hinga te tōtara haemata o te wao tapu nui a Tāne. Kua ngū te kākā-tarahae. Tarahae te kākā, tarahae te kākā, tarahae! Kua hinga ko Tā Harawira (Wira) Gardiner. Wira o Kīngi Tūheitia Pōtatau Te Wherowhero VII, Wira o Tūmatauenega, Wīra o Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Wira o Ngāti Awa, Wira o Ngāti Pikiao, Wira o Te Whakatōhea, Wira o Te Kāwana, Wira o Te Motu, Wira o Te Ao, Wira o Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato e te Tākuta o Kairangi, e te Mātauranga, e te Wānanga e Tā Wira e moe, e moe, e moe ki runga o Maunga Wahakangā Ariki, Haere atu rā.

A deeply respected leader in his long public service career, he is well known for the numerous leadership roles he has held and his extensive and significant contribution to Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

At the University of Waikato, Tā Wira brought his considerable expertise and skill in mediation and building relationships to an independent review into claims of systemic and structural racism. This review, undertaken with Hon Hekia Parata, led to the establishment of a Taskforce to address issues raised, and a long-term programme of work with the University.

Chancellor Sir Anand Satyanand conferred a University of Waikato Honorary Doctorate on Tā Wira in November, recognising his lifetime of service and achievements. Sir Anand says the award honours Tā Wira’s resolute approach to resolving problems, and a willingness to do so that was called upon time and time again.

“A memorable moment in my time as Chancellor is undoubtedly the spirit attending the ceremony to award him an Honorary Doctorate. In my former role as Governor-General, I knighted Tā Wira more than a decade ago, bringing added significance as I conferred the University’s highest honour on him last year.”

Tā Wira has been variously honoured in public tributes as a statesman, a change agent, a man taller than the sky, and a totara tree in the forest of Māoridom he served. Those who have worked with him have noted his humour, his humility, his resolution and certainty of approach, and his love of people.

Even at the end of his life, Tā Wira put the public health considerations of people above himself, requesting no tangihanga in order to reduce demands on frontline workers delivering public health responses.

The University’s thoughts and condolences are with Wira’s wife Hekia, his children and mokopuna.



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