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Sharples: Ngarimu VC & Maori Battalion Scholarship Awards

Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Associate Minister of Education

23 April 2013 SPEECH

Ngarimu VC and 28th (Maori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Awards Opening Address
Grand Hall Parliament, 3.30pm

Tēnā koutou katoa, ānei rā te mihi ki a koutou katoa e kaha nei ki te hāpai, ki te tautoko i ngā whānau, ngā hapū me ngā marae maha puta noa i o tātou motu whānui nei o Aotearoa me Te Waipounamu.

Otirā me te mihi anō ki a koutou e kaha nei ki te poipoi i a tātou tamariki mokopuna, ka riro hoki ma rātou e hoe te waka apōpō. E tika tonu kia mihi ki o tātou mate e hingahinga tonu nei puta noa i te motu. E kore hoki e taea te karo te taonga nei a te mate. Ka maumahara tonu ki a rātou o ngā hoia i mate i te pakanga tuarua.

Me kī kua poroporoakitia rātou a kua ea katoa ngā āhuatanga ki a rātou, no reira waiho ake rātou te hunga kua moe ki a rātou.

Ka hoki mai ki a tātou te hunga ora e whiriwhiri tonu nei i ngā āhuatanga katoa o te ao hurihuri nei, Tihei Mauri Ora.

I’d like to welcome you all today - board members, honoured guests, parents, whānau, family and friends. And, of course, our scholarship recipients. My congratulations to you all. You should be incredibly proud of yourselves, and your achievements.

We are also very lucky to be joined today by the whānau of Second Lieutenant Te Moananui a Kiwa Ngārimu.

It is his heroism and sacrifice, and that of the men of the 28th Māori Battalion, which we commemorate with these scholarship awards.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the awarding of the Victoria Cross to Second Lieutenant Ngārimu.

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories.

It takes precedence over all other orders, decorations and medals.

Second Lieutenant Te Moananui a Kiwa Ngārimu was the first Māori to receive this most prestigious award.

His bravery, determination and leadership - in the face of great danger - are an example to us all, and one that will never fade.

More than 7000 people attended his investiture ceremony at Ruatōria on 6 October 1943.

His parents, Hamuera and Maraea, received the decoration from the Governor-General, Sir Cyril Newall.

His citation describes the attack at Tebaga Gap, Tunisia in which Ngārimu was killed. It says he led his men with courage and leadership… displaying both to the highest order.

To honour the 70th anniversary of Ngārimu’s investiture, I am delighted that the Government will be making a further gesture of support to the Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund in the upcoming Budget. It is not appropriate to discuss the full details now, but I am pleased to say the news will be good for those exceptional Māori who wish to further themselves through education, and like Ngārimu himself, make an invaluable contribution to their whānau, hapū, iwi and country.

The criteria for these awards demands a lot from the applicants. Every single one of today’s scholarship recipients not only meets, but exceeds, the criteria.

The Board was so impressed with the calibre of applicants that where there are usually three undergraduate scholarships awarded, today there are five.

Where there is usually one doctoral level scholarship. Today there are two recipients.

You are the high achievers, the leaders among your generation of Māori.

And these scholarships will help you go out into the world and make it a better place, like the men of the 28th Battalion before you.

Theirs was a generation of which much was asked, and even more given.

No New Zealand infantry saw more fighting, or had such heavy casualties, as the 28th Battalion. And no New Zealand infantry received as many individual bravery decorations.

When the 28th Battalion returned home, to the shores of Aotearoa, they returned as heroes.

And on their arrival in Wellington, their commander, Lieutenant-Colonel James Hēnare, dismissed his men with these words:

“Go back to our mountains, go back to our people, go back to our marae. But this is my last command to you all - stand as Māori, stand as Māori, stand as Māori.”

Today, we face very different challenges than the men of the Māori Battalion.

But whilst our times ask different things of us, our goal should be the same as theirs - to stand as Māori. Tu Maori Mai!

To stand together and support each other. To achieve, and in achieving, not sacrifice or compromise who we are, or where we come from.

All of our scholarship recipients here today have done exactly that. They all combine their excellent academic records with active participation in, and support of, te Ao Māori.

And what is particularly exciting - and inspiring - is that you all have innovative plans to make a difference for Māori, once you complete your education.

This includes establishing a school to target rangatahi Māori who are disengaged from education, and helping to advance the aspirations of your whānau, hapu, iwi and community.

It’s really uplifting to see a new generation of young people so determined to give back to the communities they were raised in, preserve their unique culture and improve the overall well-being of their fellow Māori.

A new generation of young people that, I’m sure, Second Lieutenant Ngārimu and the 28th Battalion would be proud of.

Unfortunately, here in New Zealand our education system, despite some recent improvements, still does not perform effectively for too many Māori students.

The evidence shows Māori children and young people succeed in education that has strong relationships with their whānau, and their communities. This is true across early childhood education, primary, secondary and tertiary settings.

We only need to look around the room today to see the critical role whānau play in student success.

Tu Maori Mai. To stand as Māori, just as the 28th Battalion did.

Today represents a special opportunity to honour the past, and celebrate the future, of Māori achievement.

Seventy years ago, the young men of the 28th Battalion returned from war, and became leaders of their generation of Māori. They made a difference to their hapū, their iwi and, ultimately, Aotearoa.

Our scholarship recipients have the same courage, determination and commitment to their people.

I am proud and privileged to present these scholarships to you. You seek excellence in everything you do, not only for yourselves, but for your whānau, your hapū and your iwi.

Your mana, courage and perseverance got you here today, and will get you to wherever you want to go in life.

I’m sure all of you will make a difference for your whānau, your hapū, your iwi, and for Aotearoa. I wish you all the best for the future.

No reira e ngā whānau, hapū me ngā iwi, noho ora mai i raro tonu i ngā manaakitanga a te Runga Rawa. Waiho ake ma te wa ka tutaki a kanohi ano tātou i a tātou.


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