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Honorary Doctorate on Tumu te Heuheu

25 November 2007

Conferring of Honorary Doctorate on Tumu te Heuheu.
Waihi Marae, Lake Taupo.

Ko Hikurangi te Maunga
Ko Waiapu te Awa
Ko Ngāti Porou te Iwi
Ko Te Kani ā Takirau te Tangata

Ko Tongariro te Maunga
Ko Taupo Nui-a-Tia te Moana
Ko Tuwharetoa te Iwi
Ko te Heuheu te Tangata

I am delighted to be here to see one of this country’s great leaders awarded this honorary doctorate. It is both a privilege and a pleasure.

This honour is well deserved but I am sure it is reluctantly received. And on that note I think humility might be the key word for today.

We all know that the chief is involved in many things and that his leadership is widely recognised.

He wears this mantle, passed down through a long line of tūpuna, with great humbleness. Yet he has built on the national authority and respect commanded by his predecessors, to extend Tuwharetoa’s – and therein this country’s - influence into the global arena.

The te Heheu dynasty and its pan-tribal influence was no more evident than in 1856 when Iwikau te Heuheu called tribal leaders from across the country to Pukawa, on the banks of this lake, to elect a king who might unite the tribes.

The meeting, which became known as “Hinana ki Uta, Hinana ki Tai (search the land, search the sea) saw Iwikau decline the kingship, as did the great Ngāti Porou chief Te Kani-a-Takirau.

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Yet it was Iwikau’s desire to unite Māori against their loss of authority and land, as symbolised by the hui Te Pukawatanga o Te Ahi o Rereao, which established his legacy.

Horonuku (Pātātai) te Heuheu Tukino IV, the next paramount chief, also left an indelible mark on the national consciousness when he gifted the mountains to the south of Taupo to the government for a national park.

Those mountains –Tongariro, Ngaruahoe and Ruapehu - were transferred to the Crown in 1887. These sacred mountains became the first national park in the world to be gifted by a country’s indigenous people and are an enduring symbol of the generosity of Tuwharetoa.

Sir Hepi te Heu Heu – Tumu’s father – was later to play a key role in uniting iwi again – both during the fiscal envelope era and through his establishment of the National Māori Congress.

Tumu continued the work of what Mason Durie has described as “the promotion of the Māori accord.” Under Tumu’s guidance, Tuwharetoa hosted the very first Hui Taumata Matauranga in 2001 which was designed to search for Māori agreement on educational policy - and since then he has taken a keen interest and has been a consistent force behind it.

That first Hui Taumata Matauranga began a journey towards more positive engagement and partnership between Māori and the Crown in regard to Maori educational achievement.

Tumu also sits on the Waitangi Trust Board and of course here at home he chairs the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board.

He has been a staunch and tireless advocate for ngā taonga tuku iho no ngā tūpuna as chair of the Māori Heritage Council of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Another strong and long held passion is conservation. Through Ngā Whenua Rahui, which Tumu chairs, Māori landowners can apply for funding to protect indigenous eco-systems.
This unique fund allows Māori to retain ownership and control of the lands which are protected for future generations, at the same time respecting their cultural and spiritual values. The committee’s list of projects to date is impressive.

It is Tumu’s work on heritage protection that has seen Tuwharetoa exercise influence at an international level.

This peaked with his chairing of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Christchurch earlier this year – I’ll talk about that some more shortly.

Tumu led the charge to have Tongariro National Park given the first ever World Heritage listing as a cultural landscape. It is now one of just a handful of sites in the world that has a dual World Heritage listing.

But even knowing all that; I have a strong suspicion that many of you gathered here today don’t fully appreciate just how highly respected this man is on the world stage when it comes to heritage and conservation matters.

I know one of the reasons you don’t know this! Because he will never tell you! I know being humble is a Tuwharetoa thing. But on this occasion I would like to share some things particularly with Tuwharetoa whanui about your chief.

As I said in July of this year Tumu te Heuheu chaired the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee in Christchurch.

He was the first New Zealander to hold the year long position.

As Tumu reminded us all at the opening ceremony, the sessions are an amazing forum where people and cultures come together to share and exchange distinct views of natural and cultural heritage with the rest of the world.

While the chief earned great kudos for his chairing of the Christchurch event, the work that was done over the year leading up to that was even more special.

Throughout the year Tumu played a significant role in advancing the interests of the Pacific.

Indeed, a major goal for Tumu within the World Heritage Committee has been to “ensure that United Nations communities no longer overlook the outstanding value of the Pacific and its cultures.”

He’s had great success with this, playing a key role in maintaining momentum for the Pacific 2009 Action Plan - a plan that was developed at Tongariro in 2004 and progressed at the Pacific Island World Heritage Workshop in February this year.

And at the July session an appeal was launched to establish a Pacific fund to which the international community will contribute financially. The fund’s aim would be to advance the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the Pacific.

While promoting the South Pacific he did not forget any of the other nations or their unique heritage issues.

During a key planning meeting in Paris over the course of eight days he held meetings 17 meetings with Minister’s from countries all over the world.

This included a series of meetings backward and forward between the Arab delegates and the Israeli delegates over a heritage site in Jerusalem; the end result being some constructive kōrero on the issue.

But perhaps an area where Tumu ‘has had a significant impact in the World Heritage arena but which again is not so well known has been his articulate and patient assertions that intangible heritage is as important as tangible heritage.

An example of this is close by. The physical, volcanic features of Tongariro are recognised, but so too are the cultural and spiritual features - those features which are such in integral part of every member of Tuwharetoa.

It was Tumu who encouraged the World Heritage Committee add what is termed the “5th C” to its strategic objectives. The “5th C” - which will be known internationally as a New Zealand achievement – was “community”.

Tumu wanted people, the needs of human communities, to be reconciled with heritage protection. He noted that the other four heritage protection “Cs”: conservation, capacity building, credibility and communication were not achievable without community involvement and commitment.

It is of no surprise to me that he led this charge. As another great Ngati Porou leader said “He aha te mea nui? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.”

So it is that Tumu has recognised the contribution the Māori world view can make to the global community.

He has also increasingly recognised and sought to highlight just what the world community has to offer in return – and to encourage us as Māori to play a greater role within it.

Earlier in the year Māori and the nation beamed with pride when a young man called Willie Apiata was awarded the highest military honour, the Victoria Cross of New Zealand.

I can tell you one thing for certain he sure as heck didn’t like all the fuss; he was just a humble Māori fulla from the coast doing his job.

He was proud to have served his country well, he was honoured to receive the award, but the thing that really matters the most to him is that he saved his mate.

Tumu I know you won’t be that happy about the fuss being made of you today - but it is deserved.

I know you too will probably continue to say, like Willie, I was just doing my job. However, I hope people now have a better understanding of just how well you have done your job. You have done your people, Māoridom and the whole of Aotearoa/New Zealand proud.

To everyone else here, I note that for the last two years The Listener has named Tumu in the top 15 of most influential New Zealanders.

We in Māoridom have been lucky enough to know of his mana and influence for a lot longer, but it is pleasing that a mainstream magazine such as The Listener now recognises it too, and shares the good news with other New Zealanders.

But of course, Massey University’s recognition of Tumu today encompasses more than just the last 12 months.

Significantly, the Honorary Doctorate is awarded to people who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of knowledge and to the betterment of communities.

I can think of no better way to end my brief address to you all today than with those last few words, which encapsulate perfectly Tumu’s influence and impact — a man whose contributions advance our collective knowledge and whose impact does indeed lead to better communities.
Kia ora.


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