A dedicated iwi leader and public servant had an honorary doctorate conferred by the University of Waikato today in Whakatāne.
Sir Harawira Gardiner (Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pikiao) is well known for the numerous leadership roles he’s held during his long career and his contribution to iwi settlements has been extensive and significant. In 2009, Sir Harawira was made a Knight of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contribution and services to Māori.
Tā Wira has written seven books, two on the history of the 28th Māori Battalion (the second of which was published in 2019), two on the history and tradition of kapa haka, the Fiscal Envelope, a biography of the late former Minister of Māori Affairs, Parekura Horomia, and A Soldier’s View of the Vietnam War. He is currently working on a book of essays about his career as a public servant to inform his biography.
In 2020, Tā Wira and his wife, Hon Hekia Parata, were commissioned by the University Council to undertake an independent review into claims of systemic and structural racism made by a group of staff. The Parata Gardiner report led to the establishment of a Taskforce to address issues raised and a long-term programme of work within the University.
In 2021, his 59th year of public service, Sir Harawira accepted the role of Acting CEO of Oranga Tamariki. Today’s ceremony, held at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi also acknowledged his distinguished public service career. Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes presented Tā Wira with the Lifetime Achievement award as part of the annual Te Hāpai Hapori | Spirit of Service Awards.
University of Waikato Chancellor, Sir Anand Satyanand, said: “It’s a remarkable coincidence that I conferred a knighthood upon Sir Wira in 2009 as Governor-General on behalf of the Queen, and now, more than a decade later I have the privilege of conferring this doctorate upon him as Chancellor of the University of Waikato.”