Respected Ngati Porou educationalist and author Wiremu Mangai Kaa was recently honoured at a ceremony recognising the achievements of Indigenous scholars.
The award was presented at the end of September, on behalf of the World Indigenous Nations University which confers awards upon Indigenous scholars, who over many years have contributed to education, literature and their communities.
Papa Wiremu received the Meritorious Doctorate to Indigenous Elders, which is the most prestigious award, in which recipients are considered to be repositories of knowledge and scholars of the highest order. The award was presented in recognition of his contribution to Maori education over the last six decades.
Papa Wiremu began his career after graduating from Ardmore Teacher Training College in Auckland. After teaching at a number of schools, he became the Principal of the school he attended as a child, Rangitukia School (now called TKKM o Taperenui a Whatonga). In the 1970s and 1980s, Papa Wiremu became a key figure in the establishment of the Māori curriculum at the Ministry of Education, and was responsible for Māori and Pacific Island education policy and practice.
During this period Papa Wiremu and wife, Jossie Kaa (nee Green), were part of the emerging Maori Language revitalisation movement, and began editing historical texts written in Te Reo Maori, and creating language resources for tamariki and adult learners. Their work in the area of editing and writing is renown within the Maori academic community, and among the mahi they have contributed to includes Mohi Turei: Ana Tuhinga i Roto i te Reo Maori, the Ngata Dictionary and the Reo version of Nga Tamatoa: Price of Citizenship.
Along with Papa Wiremu, author Patricia Grace (Ngati Toa) was conferred with the Meritorious Doctorate to Indigenous Elders and educator Oriwia Raureti (Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Rangitihi) was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate in Education in recognition of her contribution to Indigenous scholarship. The ceremony was held in Otaki at Te Wananga o Raukawa.
The Wananga is an associate member of the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC) which in turn is the parent body of the World Indigenous Nations University. Established in 2002, WINHEC’s aim is to build partnerships among Indigenous scholars that restore and retain indigenous spirituality, cultures and languages, homelands, social systems, economic systems and self-determination.
Dr. Hohaia Collier (Te Whanau a Uruahi, Te Whanau a Takimoana, Ngati Horowai) is the Executive Director Academic Provision for Te Wānanga o Raukawa, and one of two New Zealand representatives on WINHEC. He says the acknowledgement from the World Indigenous Nations University to Papa Wiremu represents a great honour for Ngati Porou.
“Wiremu’s conferral means that he joins a very select group of scholars world-wide. Last year in Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada the first awards were conferred upon two other people, one an Aboriginal Australian and the other a Canadian Indian. This year two Hawai’ian elders were honoured as well in their own Islands. To have two Maori conferred at the one time is reflective of the esteem that Wiremu and Dame Patricia Grace are held in globally. Ngati Raukawa and the wananga community were honoured to host the conferral ceremony.”
World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium