“Dr Apirana Mahuika was a man of great conviction and like his maunga, Hikurangi, immovable in his beliefs. His staunch and unrelenting Naati-centric worldview earned him many admirers, and just as many critics.” - Ngati Porou.com
Following a long illness, on Monday 9 February, Chairman of Ngāti Porou, Dr Apirana Mahuika died at his home in Kaiti, Gisborne and lay in state at Te Rahui Marae, Tikitiki. His funeral service was held at 11am on Thursday and he is buried at his whānau cemetery at Kaitaha.
Dr Apirana Mahuika was well educated and a highly regarded leader. He graduated with a Licentiate in Theology (L.TH.); B.A. (Auckland University); M.A. (Sydney University, Australia) and held an honorary doctorate from Waikato University. He received the prestigious Heritage Award from the NZ Historic Places Trust for commitment and devotion to preservation and protection of historic places in 2005.
He was a teacher at St Stephens school in South Auckland and Correspondence School in Wellington; a lecturer at Wellington Teachers Training College, and Initiated Maori Studies at Massey University; he is also a Research Fellow at Waikato University.
As the chairman of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Porou, he is acknowledged as shaping the socio-economic, political and cultural pathway of the tribe. He was lead negotiator for Ngāti Porou Treaty claims resulting in the settlement for Ngati Porou in 2012.
He showed formidable leadership across many local regional and national initiatives in educational, social, environmental, economic and political arenas. In 2012 the Royal Society of New Zealand (he was a fellow) described him as: "... a leading figure in most of the major political and topical issues that have confronted iwi in recent years.”
The Maori Law Society tribute to Dr Mahuika states that he was a fierce Ngāti Porou leader who touched the lives of many: “Dr Mahuika will be remembered for his significant contribution to not only his iwi Ngāti Porou, but to Te Ao Māori.” Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said that his oratory skills in te reo Māori and English are legendary: “His ability to articulate his views and immense knowledge on the marae and in hui will be greatly missed. He was a scholar and a gentleman.”
Many news reports of his death call him a great totara. The Chief Police Commissioners’ statement sums up how Dr Mahuika was committed not just to his own people but also the future for all of us in New Zealand society together.
Chief Police Commissioner Mike Bush: “Uncle Api, as he was affectionately known to New Zealand Police, was a long serving member of the Commissioner’s Māori Focus Forum. He was instrumental in strengthening New Zealand Police’s relationship with Māori, and was one of the key architects of our Responsiveness to Māori programme.
“Uncle Api started the journey for our organisation and continued to guide us through unchartered waters in the development of a world class model of partnership between Māori and New Zealand Police.
“His mana and wairua will live on.”
Nā reira, e te rangatira e Api, takoto, takoto, takoto. Kei te tino mamae te tau o matou ate, ngā mōteatea, ngā whakaaro kei roto i a au. Nā reira, haere, haere, haere.