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Mäori Language Matriarch retires

31 Haratua (May) 2002 For Immediate Release

Mäori Language Matriarch retires

On Saturday, 1 June, Dr Mïria Simpson, (Mätaatua, Te Arawa), the matriarch of Te Reo Mäori will officially announce her retirement from the Mäori Language Commission (Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Mäori).

She was appointed to the Commission in 1994, and will make the announcement at a special dinner in honour of her contribution to Mäori language and to mark her 80th birthday.

Mïria is a slightly built but tenacious protector of language. She is loved by many and feared by more for her insistence that people use correct grammar and diction when they speak and write in Mäori, and or English. It is perilous to slip up in Mäori or English within her earshot, she has no qualms in correcting careless users of language.

Mäori Language Commissioner Patu Hohepa says her expertise and inquiring nature will be sorely missed at future board meetings and by management and staff. "However, I intend to keep her in a patron type role because her advice and guidance will continue to be needed. She is a storehouse of knowledge on Mäori language, history and culture as well as a leading editor of Mäori language texts."

Her most recent editorial contribution was made as an editor of the biography of Eruera Manuera written by his daughter Te Onehou Phyllis, a finalist in this year's Montana book awards.

In 1998 Mïria Simpson was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Literature by Victoria University of Wellington for her long service to Mäoridom, especially as 'quality controller' of their language, written and spoken. Since 1990, she has been Mäori Language Consultant at the National Library of New Zealand. In addition, she is an editor and interpreter of works in both Mäori and English.

Te Taura Whiri Chief Executive Haami Piripi says her departure represents a great loss to the Commission. "Mïria is a taonga, her direct approach and high standards have taught lessons for life to all who have come in contact with her," he says.

Filling her shoes will be no mean feat; a replacement for Mïria is expected to be announced by the Minister of Mäori Affairs Hon. Parekura Horomia at the Uia Ngä Käinga Mäori Language Conference on 13-14 June at Te Papa. She will perform one of her last official duties at the conference when she presents newly certified Mäori Translators and Interpreters with their licenses.


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