Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa pays tribute to Sir Wira Gardiner

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa pays tribute to Sir Wira Gardiner

Today we pay tribute to our whānaunga Ta Wira Gardiner who has passed away at the age of 78.

Ta Wira (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pikiao, Whakatōhea, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) was one of the pre-eminent Māori leaders of our time – a founding director of the Waitangi Tribunal, a devoted public servant and a staunch leader and advocate for Māori rights, education and culture.

During his long and distinguished career Sir Wira served in the army, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, headed the Iwi Transition Agency and was founding CEO of Te Puni Kōkiri. Most recently he serves as interim Chair of Oranga Tamariki before standing down due to illness.

He also held several important governance roles chairing the Tertiary Education Commission, the Te Papa museum board and the Local Government Commission.

Sir Wira was also a published author of non-fiction books on the Māori Battalion, the history and tradition of kapa haka and a personal view on combat: A Soldier’s View of the Vietnam War told from the perspective of soldiers from the V4 Company who served in South Vietnam.

Sir Wira was known for his diplomacy, sharp intellect, and his ability to navigate and maintain collaborative relationships with Māori and non-Maori alike.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Tumuaki (Chairman) Joe Harawira said:

“Ta Wira was an agent of transformational change in all that he pursued on both the political and social scene for Ngati Awa and Māoridom as a whole. His aroha for his iwi was second to only his whānau. The legacy he has left for his people is immeasurable.

“We send our aroha and condolences to Sir Wira’s whānau, his wife Hekia, his children, mokopuna and everyone that knew and loved him. His passing is a great loss. Kei te tangi te ngakau mōu, mō tō whānau e Wira.”

It was Sir Wira’s express wish that no tangihanga would be held following his passing to protect against any potential impacts to frontline workers and the health system as the result of the current Omicron outbreak.

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