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Māori Student Promotes Indigenous Rights With Amnesty International Award

Rangatahi Maōri activist and law student Te Matahiapo Safari Hynes was announced today as the winner of Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand’s Gary Ware Legacy Award.

Credit: Rawhitiroa Photography

The Gary Ware Legacy Award is a funding opportunity from Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, designed to empower and equip young people with a passion for protecting and promoting human rights. Launched in 2020, the award is made possible by the generous support of the Ware family, facilitated by the Acorn Foundation, who provide up to $4500 each year.

Entries were received from rangatahi across the motu, with a range of inspiring ideas and initiatives. Te Matahiapo Safari Hynes, a prominent Māori rights activist and undergraduate law student at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University, was selected as this year’s winner. Hynes will use the funding to create new online resources that inspire and inform much needed kōrero (conversation) about Indigenous rights in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Te Matahiapo Safari Hynes, of Rangitāne and Ngāti Kahungunu descent, is well known for his powerful human rights activism. In 2022, he launched a public campaign calling on the Reserve Bank to replace references to the British monarchy on future New Zealand currency with an image that better represents Aotearoa. He is a respected commentator on issues relating to tino rangatiratanga (self-determination) for Māori and creates educational content for social media.

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"Māori, Te Tiriti and Indigenous rights are under attack," says Hynes.

"One of the most important tools we have against this tsunami of regression is education and conscientisation - particularly as some in our country endeavour to replace fact with fiction and ensure the erasure of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the place of Māori as Indigenous peoples."

"I’m incredibly grateful to the Ware and Amnesty whānau for honouring me with this taonga and believing in my vision for what this pūtea can help us achieve," he says.

Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand’s Community Manager, Margaret Taylor, says the range of human rights ideas in this year’s applications was particularly inspiring.

"The passion that young people have for building a better future was evident in their numerous proposals. We need this passion now more than ever in Aotearoa New Zealand. We are thrilled to award Te Matahiapo Safari Hynes with such well-deserved funding. His energy and leadership will be a powerful force for good at a time when we are witnessing growing threats to Indigenous rights, " says Taylor.

"We share our immense gratitude to the Ware whānau for empowering this young changemaker to bring their vision to life," she says.

"Their generosity is grounded in an intergenerational commitment to inspire and equip future generations. We share in their confidence that rangatahi can make the world a fairer, more compassionate place."

This year, Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand and the Ware family were delighted to commission the contemporary Māori artist Todd Couper to design a taonga to accompany the funding of the Gary Ware Legacy Award. Couper, of Ngāti Rongomaiwahine and Ngāti Kahungunu descent, is based in the Bay of Plenty and has created a wooden whakairo (carving) to reflect the kaupapa of the Award.

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