Poroporoaki: Dr Kihi Ngatai OSM
Hon Willie Jackson
Te Minita Whanaketanga Māori
Minister for Māori Development
Mauao tiketike tūmokemoke mai ana ra koe, papakitia ana e ngā tai kawenga roimata o te motu. E Ngāti Ranginui, mo tō manuhuia kua tīkapea i te rangi. E Ngai Te Rangi, mo tō manutaki kua riro i te hau o Aitū kikini, E Ngāti Pukenga mo tō manutaiko, kua ngū te reo whakaō!
E Kihi e! Ka tīkina atu ano koe e mātou ka whakahokia ake ki te mahara, hei whakaoho anō i te wairua, hei whakaawe anō i te hinengaro, hei tikaro anō i te whatumanawa!
Ahakoa ta te kiko kua riro kua makere, kua ngahoro ano he maunga ki te papa moana,
Takoto matao mai, he kaikino na te mate.
E taku mana, e taku tiketike, kawea atu te rongo ki tua o Paerau, pokea ana uta e to iti me to rahi, e tangi tonu nei te māpu mou, e te arohanga a te ngakau tapatahi, takoto!
Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Pukenga mourn the loss of a Māori horticultural pioneer, with the passing of Dr Kihi Ngatai OSM.
“Along with his late wife Maria, the couple planted the first kiwifruit vines in the Tauranga region more than 40 years ago. He was a true visionary and will be sadly missed by his whānau and the wider community,” said Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson.
Born and raised in the rural seaside community of Matapihi. In his early years, he joined the railways to pursue his ambition to become a train driver.
Mātua Kihi then spent two-and-a-half years in the military serving in Korea. On his return, Kihi re-joined the railways where he met his wife Maria (nee Ormsby from Te Puna). She passed away in 2017.
But it was in the farming industry and governance roles, where he would stamp his mark. In the late 1950s, Kihi and Maria moved back to Matapihi to run the whānau dairy farm.
He would later convert the 35 hectare farm into a kiwifruit orchard. The orchard opened employment opportunities for the whānau and the community.
“Kihi and his whānau achieved the huge milestone in the mid-1970s of becoming one of the first Māori kiwifruit growers in the Tauranga area.”
He would later become the director of the Māori kiwifruit growers’ fraternity, Te Awanui Huka Pak.
Kihi was a Ngai Te Rangi trustee for the Mauao historic reserve and represented Ngai Te Rangi and Tauranga Moana in formal occasions regarding iwi matters.
He was awarded a Queen’s Birthday Honour in 2006, a Ta Kingi Ihaka Toi Māori award in 2009, was the first chairman of Te Runaga o Ngai Te Rangi and was a Waitangi Tribunal member.
In 2014, Kihi was awarded an honorary doctorate for his contribution to Māori welfare and leadership for Tauranga iwi.
“Mātua Kihi dedicated his life to caring for the whenua and working in the horticulture industry and his legacy lives on through his whānau and all those he helped.”