May I begin by greeting everyone in the languages of the realm of New Zealand, in English, Māori, Cook Island Māori, Niuean, Tokelauan and New Zealand Sign Language.
Greetings, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Taloha Ni and as it is the afternoon (Sign)
May I specifically greet you:
• Te Arikinui Kingi Tuheitia;
• Sir Tumu te Heuheu, Paramount Chief of Ngāti Tuwharetoa;
• Minister of the Crown, Hon Georgina te Heuheu, Minister of Courts, Disarmament and Arms Control and Pacific Island Affairs;
• Debra Marshall-Lobb, Tumuaki of Hato Pāora College and staff members;
• Reverend Fathers
• Students and whānau of Hato Pāora College;
• Representatives of other schools
• Sir Te Atawhai Taiaroa and Marina Lady Taiaroa and your whānau;
• Distinguished guests otherwise;
• ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure to be at Hato Pāora College in Fielding today for this redesignation ceremony for Sir Te Atawhai.
I would like to take an opportunity to speak briefly about the School, about the redesignation and about Sir Te Atawhai before confering the accolade of knighthood.
First, for 62 years, Hato Pāora College has excelled in educating young men who have gone on to become leaders in Māoridom and in New Zealand.
Led for 17 years by its visionary first rector, Father Issac Gupwell, or Pa Ihaka as he was affectionately known, the School has been noted for its success in its academic, sporting and cultural endeavours.
That success has rested on two pillars. The first is the School’s special character as a Catholic school and particularly the inspiration drawn from the life and teachings of its patron saint, Hato Pāora—St Paul.
As a member of the alumnus of a fellow Catholic boys school, Sacred Heart College in Auckland, it is a special character with which I can readily identify. That special character instills values of honesty and responsibility, leadership, tolerance, care of others, and self-respect among many others.
The second pillar is the emphasis on te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. The philosophy of the school, to specifically provide for the cultural values of Māori youth, was established from the beginning. As Fr Gupwell once said:
“I think the greatest satisfaction the staff had—and I hoped still has—was seeing a boy grow into a poised and complete human being. I hope this is still so. I hope those in charge will never let pressure from outside destroy the inner life of Parorangi.”
These twin pillars helps Hato Pāora develop boys who aspire to achieve.
The alumni of this School include a veritable who’s who of Māori leaders. They include businessmen such as Wayne Walden and Robin Hapi, sportsmen such as Morvin Edwards and Shannon Paku and, of course, Ta Archie. They are an inspiration to the young men here today.
Sir Te Atawhai was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori in the 2003 Queen’s Birthday Honours list. The citation at that time said:
Mr Taiaroa has made an important contribution to Māori for many years, in particular advocating for the people of the Whanganui River on the issue of ownership rights. He has Tuwharetoa, Te Arawa and Maniapoto affiliations, and has been Chairman of the Whanganui River Māori Trust Board for many years and is a former Deputy Chairman of the National Maori Congress. He served on the Taumarunui Borough Council as a Councillor and Deputy Mayor between 1983 and 1989. He has considerable experience in customary fisheries and is the current Commissioner of the Waitangi Fisheries Commission, facilitating the Paepae Taumata (Customary Fisheries Regulations) process and leading the Freshwater Fisheries Sub-Committee. He is a member of the World Council of Whalers and a former office holder in the Ratana Church.
Since that time Sir Archie has been appointed Chairman of Te Ohu Kaimoana, where he continues to serve his people. Te Ohu is responsible for advancing the interests of iwi in the development of fisheries, fishing and fisheries-related activities
When Sir Te Atawhai was invested with his honour, the highest two levels of the New Zealand Order of Merit did not carry titular titles.
However, this year, at the Government’s request, Her Majesty, reinstated titular honours. In addition to those honoured since that change, those who had previously been made Principal Companions or Distinguished Companions were able to elect to be redesignated as Knights of Dames of the Order.
To that end, in August, there was a ceremony at Old St Paul’s in Wellington where more than 60 New Zealanders were redesignated.
However, a few of those who elected to be redesignated were not able to attend that ceremony. I redesignated Dame Lois Muir in a ceremony in Dunedin in September.
So it is a pleasure to be able to undertake a redesignation of Sir Te Atawhai today. His ongoing achievements are symbolised in his alma mater’s motto: Whaia te Tika—Follow the right.
And so, just before I formally undertake the redesignation, I will close in New Zealand’s first language, issuing greetings and wishing everyone good health and fortitude in your endeavors.
No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa.
I now summon Sir Te Atawhai John Taiaroa to receive the accolade of a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.