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Waikato University prepares for Kīngitanga Day

Waikato University prepares for Kīngitanga Day

On Thursday 17 September, the University will celebrate Kīngitanga Day – an annual celebration of the University’s distinctive heritage, history and relationships.

The University of Waikato has developed strong connections with the Kīngitanga, Waikato-Tainui and other iwi since it was founded in 1964, and it is these relationships the University honours each year through Kīngitanga Day.

This year’s keynote speaker is Dr Monty Soutar, ONZM (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Awa, Ngai Tai). Dr Soutar is the foremost Māori military historian in the country. Following on from his book Nga Tama Toa: the Price of Citizenship about the Maori Battalion’s C Company, he is working on a major publication about the Māori contribution to World War I. He is a trained teacher, has several university degrees, served in the New Zealand Army, holds a number of appointments on national advisory boards, and was named in this year’s New Year’s Honours list.

Despite his achievements, life for Dr Soutar has not come without its challenges. The middle child in a family of seven, he was struck down with rheumatic fever at the age of six, hospitalised for several months and told he would be challenged physically in life as a result. His parents separated when he was 10, and at 12 years of age he was shipped off to join his older brothers at a Maori boys’ boarding school. As a senior student he was expelled from the school, spent three years trying to acquire university entrance and when he did, he only managed to pass three papers in his first year at university.

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The focus of Dr Soutar’s address will be on strategies he used to overcome these challenges. He will also address the increasing need for more Māori historians in the field of New Zealand history, and offer some insights into his current book, one section of which deals with the imposition of conscription on men in Waikato, Hauraki and Ngāti Maniapoto during World War I. Dr Soutar is speaking at 9am in the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts concert chamber.

Associate Professor Ross Ihaka will give a presentation on the history of the R statistical computing language and why something needs to replace it, there is a panel discussion on cybersecurity in the modern age, and a group of Māori women in leadership will tell their stories. There are also kapa haka performances and Māori action songs, food stalls, competitions, workshops and exhibitions.

No classes are scheduled on the day as a sign of the University’s commitment to its relationship with the Kīngitanga and Tainui, and to give staff and students a chance to get involved.

The day starts at 9am, all activities are free and the community is welcome to attend.

For more information, and to see the full seminar and speaker list, visit


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