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Honorary Doctorate For Genealogist

Ngai Tahu Trust Board genealogist Terry Ryan of Christchurch has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree for Contributions to Genealogy by Lincoln University.

The degree will be conferred at Lincoln University’s Graduation Ceremony in Christchurch Town Hall tomorrow. (27 April)

Terry is Kawai Kaitiaki, guardian, of the Ngai Tahu Whakapapa and has worked in this area with Ngai Tahu Trust Board since 1974. He is the acknowledged authority on the contemporary whakapapa of the Ngai Tahu people.

As a social scientist Terry has established an electronic database acknowledged internationally as a model system for the retrieval of genealogical information among indigenous people.

It is a database which has helped thousands of people throughout New Zealand and overseas with information about their Ngai Tahu affiliations.

The database contains the names and histories of 29,000 members of the iwi.

The project started with a list of names from what is known as the “Blue Book” - a record of Ngai Tahu Kaumatua alive in 1848. All members of the iwi today are able to trace their whakapapa back to this 1848 census.

Terry’s work provided background for the Ngai Tahu Claim and helped with determining beneficiaries of the Ngai Tahu settlement. It will be of on-going value to the future of the iwi.

Born in the Northland settlement of Waipu, Terry attended Wesley College in the Waikato. A lifelong interest in Maori land title and its link with personal identity was kindled there.

He has served Maoridom and Aotearoa New Zealand in many roles over the years - Maori land Court Clerk; Maori Land Court Title Improvement Officer; Senior Court Clerk and Deputy Registrar, South Island Maori Land Court; Trade Trainee Officer, Department of Maori Affairs; Private Secretary to the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Social Welfare; and Adviser to the Inland Revenue Department.

He was a co-drafter of the legislative provision that recognised Maori as an official language of New Zealand, and recognised the Maori rights embedded in the Treaty of Waitangi which led to the establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal.

When Terry moved to the South Island he associated with the Maori Methodist Mission, particularly with its involvement in Maori trade training, the Rehua Maori Apprentices Hostel, Rehua Marae and Waitaha Cultural Council. He is the longest serving, continuously active, member of the Council’s executive.

He is either a committee member, secretary, chairman or trustee of an immense number of community, civic and cultural organisations - both Maori and pakeha - and is a Life Member of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. He is also a Justice of the Peace, lay preacher and marriage celebrant. He was awarded an MBE in 1995.

Terry is proud of all his lines of descent, Celtic and Maori, and his family’s affiliations with Te Tai Tokerau, Waikato and Te Waipounamu. 


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