The Māori Language Commission paid tribute to the late leader, Tā Wira Gardiner today.
“Throughout his extraordinary life Tā Wira was a great leader. From the battlefield, to the boardroom, to the paepae. He will be greatly missed and leaves behind a legacy of social change that all New Zealanders are the better for,” said Māori Language Commission chief executive, Ngahiwi Apanui.
“Tā Wira was exceptional because he led from the front in all he did. Te reo Māori was no exception. When he took on the role leading the newly established Ministry of Māori Development he could not speak te reo Māori, by the time he left, Tā Wira was fluent.”
“By his actions he showed us all that if a person can learn te reo at 40: it is never too late for a Māori person to embrace our language. Even a chief executive can humble themselves and learn new things.”
Tā Wira’s advice for others demonstrated his pragmatic approach to challenges:
“Kaua e whakamā me nga hiahia, don’t be ashamed. We have to get into a mindset where mistakes will be made, and mistakes are a stepping stone to learning and becoming adept and proficient at the language.”
There will be no tangihanga at this time because Tā Wira requested that public health and the safety of frontline workers be prioritised.
“Even in passing, Tā Wira is leaving by example and showing all of us what true leadership looks like.”