Minister of Maori Affairs welcomes Queens Birthday honours list

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The Minister of Maori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples, says the Queens Birthday Honours list this year reflects the value that the nation places on Maori language as a taonga for all New Zealanders.

The honour bestowed on Dame Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira is a tribute to over forty years of leadership and scholarship in the Maori language revival movement. As a teacher, writer, poet and artist, Dame Katerina has inspired generations of students and shown them the inherent beauty and richness of te reo Maori, said Dr Sharples.

As an advocate and activist, especially as a leader of Te Ataarangi community education network, Katerina has provided access for thousands of ordinary people to learn te reo Maori. It was a scholarly project to identify the Silent Way as an effective method for teaching Maori, and to adapt it to our particular needs and circumstances.

I have personal experience of Dame Katerinas commitment and dedication in setting up the first kura kaupapa Maori at Hoani Waititi Marae, and she co-authored Te Aho Matua, the statement of philosophy for kura kaupapa Maori which underpins the new Maori-immersion curriculum being developed.

This is not the first time Dame Katerinas work has been recognised. In 1996 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Waikato University; in 2001 she received Te Waka Tois Exemplary Award, and in 2009 she was awarded UNESCOs prestigious Linguapax Prize for her outstanding work in the fields of linguistic diversity and multilingual education.

But this Queens Birthday Honour is the highest New Zealand recognition, which is richly deserved, and I am very pleased for Dame Katerina, her family and the wider whanau of Te Atarangi.

Dame Katerina is joined this year by several other pioneers of Maori language revival.

As a leader of Te Reo Maori Society, Cathy Dewes ONZM helped present the 1972 petition to Parliament for Maori to be taught in schools, she promoted the first Maori Language Week, and campaigns for Maori language in education and broadcasting. She helped establish Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ruamata near Rotorua, and led te Runanganui o nga Kura Kaupapa Maori to consolidate the the early advances in Maori-immersion education.

And alongside Dame Katerina and Cathy are the faces and voices of the Kohanga Reo movement, Kuini Moehau Reedy MNZM and Heneriata Maxwell QSM, who poured so much energy and enthusiasm into the very first kohanga reo, with their stunning compositions and performances of songs for children.

Among a parade of outstanding Maori leaders, I also mention John Clarke CNZM and Te Ariki Derek Morehu CNZM, who have been recognised for their respective roles in Treaty advice and settlement issues; Josie Karanga MNZM and Henare OKeefe QSM as leaders of whanau and community development, and Nolan Raihania ONZM, a veteran of the 28 (Maori) Battalion who is still very active in iwi affairs. I also see Hori Awa, Daphne Luke and Bill Nathan, among many, manyothers.

This Queens Birthday honours list is one that all Maori can feel very proud of, said Dr Sharples.

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