Queen’s Birthday Honours: Te Ariki Derek Morehu (Daily Post)

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Te Ariki (Derek) Morehu is humbled to be acknowledged for his work to ensure the survival of the Maori language and traditions.

Mr Morehu has been made a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Maori.

“I’m so humbled. I did not expect to get recognised for helping to progress my people and doing what comes natural,” he told The Daily Post.

“Everyone, no matter what nationality, should know their own language.” Fluent in Maori, Mr Morehu is an elder of Te Arawa and Mataatua and has spearheaded the retention and revitalisation of the customs and traditions of his iwi.”

As the first-born of four sons to Wihiria Hohepa and Manu Whakaturia Morehu, he was raised by his grandmother, Kirihaehae Hohepa at the foothills bordering Murupara.

“It was lonely … there was no one to play with,” he recalled.

His first memory of school was getting spanked by the principal for speaking te reo.

“I could only speak Maori. I knew no other language,” he said.

Since then he has returned to the whanau marae at Otaramarae, where he helped his father rebuild Houmaitawhiti meeting house in 1970. It was originally built in the 1800s at Maketu and again in 1912.

He is an esteemed orator and while has he served as a member of the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust and on many land trusts, Mr Morehu is still heavily involved in the local te kohanga reo movement.

He loves hearing children speak te reo.

“It makes me proud to hear them.

I listen to them and if they aren’t speaking properly I sit them down next to me and talk to them so they can grow … I hope the language never dies,” he said.

However, he is concerned Maori children feature so high in child abuse statistics.

“Child abuse has got to stop. Maori have the worst stats in the world for child abuse,” he said. “Mum and dad never hit us. Mum had a fern stick hanging up as a reminder but she never had to use it.”

Until recently, Mr Morehu was the cultural advisor for the Te Arawa campus of Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

He is a life member of the Maori Wardens Association.

Many thanks to Cherie Taylor and the Daily Post for this beautiful write up on Koro Te Ariki > http://www.rotoruadailypost.co.nz/local/news/queens-birthday-honours-te-ariki-derek-morehu/3954617/

1 COMMENT

  1. awesome koro
    u r a shining example of true excellence for ur dedication to te reo
    and things maori by way of example for doing wata comes natural
    i admire ur humbleness in expression of shock for the queens gift bestowed on you ….kia ora ….my uncle joesph harris received a QSM once he's dead now
    hehehe he was a kupapa but thats my story ….he wanted to give it back as he felt he didn't desrve to get one for doing wata came natural to him in his choice to returning back home and being a kaumatua …hehehe
    he said he would rather the queen give our land back than accept her medal for being a maori hehehe i agreed with him coz its true
    none the less tena koe matua e koro for ur uniqueness to the mokpuna n reo

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