Māori Development Minister, Willie Jackson, has expressed his sadness at the passing of renowned te reo Māori scholar Tā Patu Hohepa (Dr) KNZM.
The Minister said Tā Patu (nō Hokianga, Te Mahurehure me Ngāti Korokoro, Te Kapotai o Taiāmai, Ngāpuhi, me Te Ātiawa) had a distinguished career in Māori and Pacific linguistics, which was acknowledged in last year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours when he was named Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Māori culture and education.
A retired university professor and retired Māori Language Commissioner, his linguistic background began with being a native bilingual speaker of Māori and English through upbringing and education.
“Tā Patu was the first Māori dux of Northland College and believed that language is the vehicle for maintaining and disseminating personal, group and cultural knowledge,” said Mr Jackson.
He achieved a Master’s in Social Anthropology from University of Auckland and completed a course on Structural, Anthropological and Sociolinguist for his PhD study at Indiana University.
He taught courses in Anthropology, Māori studies, Māori language, and Linguistics at University of Auckland at undergraduate and graduate levels. Linguistics, Anthropological Linguistics and Polynesian Syntax at the University of Hawaii, and Polynesian Syntactic Structures to Master and Doctoral students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.
“His academic circle included Maharaia Winiata, Matiu Te Hau OBE, Hoani Waititi, Ralph Piddington, Ranginui Walker DCNZM, Koro Dewes, Tā Pita Sharples (Dr), Syd Jackson, Lt George Ngata, Dr Apirana Mahuika, and many many more.”
“His service to Aotearoa and Māori included 10 years as the commissioner of the Māori Language Commission, heavily promoting te reo Māori and developing proficiency testing, and as a member of Te Waka Toi (the Māori Board of Creative New Zealand) from 2004 and 2008.
“Because of his knowledge of expertise, and his friendly and loving manner, Tā Patu became a kaumātua for many organisations, including as a member of the Māori Cultural Advisory Group of Auckland Art Gallery.
“However, he has always belonged to Northland as their Māori leader steeped in Hokianga history, bringing light as a Ngāpuhi orator, genealogist, waiata singer, spokesperson, educator, and writer.
“I extend my deepest gratitude for his exceptional contribution to the revitalisation of te reo Māori and his dedication to te ao Māori,” said Minister Jackson.
Tā Patu will be laid to rest at Otātara Marae, Waimā.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the whānau Pani and the iwi of Hokianga,” said the Minister.