SIR Tamati Reedy

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(NZ Herald) Ngati Porou educationist Professor Tamati Muturangi Reedy – made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM) for his services to education today – has had a distinguished career in Maori affairs from a public, private and an academic perspective.

Sir Tamati was awarded the 1990 New Zealand Medal for public service after serving as Secretary of Maori Affairs from 1983 to 1989.

He was one of the casualties of claims by Winston Peters, then a National Party MP, that a departmental official had been negotiating for a $300 million loan from a Hawaiian financier, which led to the end of the Department of Maori Affairs.

Sir Tamati, who has an MA in English from Auckland University (1973) an MA in linguistics (1977) and a doctorate in linguistics (1978) from Hawaii University, then managed, with his wife, Tilly, his own consultancy business in education and training in the public and private sector.

The couple developed the curriculum for Maori immersion centres, with an emphasis on empowering children to learn and grow, based on the Maori maxim “toko rangatiratanga na te mana-matauranga” (knowledge and power set me free).

The couple played key roles in the kohanga reo movement, and in 1996 Sir Tamati was involved in developing a draft document, Te Whariki, which became the basis for a bicultural curriculum becoming a statutory requirement for licensed and chartered early childhood education centres in 2003.

An extensive career in secondary school teaching led to an American trip as a Fulbright scholar in 1983, when he was appointed an associate professor at Alabama University.

It was while teaching in the US that he proposed the idea of the annual Ngata Memorial Lectures, to commemorate Sir Apirana Ngata and his monumental service to Ngati Porou and the nation: “There I was feeding students on who we are, and our own back home were unable to participate,” he said.

In 1996, Sir Tamati was appointed by Waikato University as foundation dean and professor of the School of Maori and Pacific Development.

He was also pro-vice chancellor with responsibilities for Maori development at the university, and in 2005, he was appointed professor of Maori sustainable enterprise at its management school.

In 2009, he became the first Maori to be named emeritus professor – retired from assigned duties – at the university, and in April this year he was appointed to the Waitangi Tribunal.

At a Wanganui hui in October, he said his personal opinion was that Maori language ought to be compulsory in New Zealand schools.

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