Sir Hirini Moko Mead has been at the forefront of Māori arts for many years. His contribution to the promotion and understanding of Māori artists and art is huge. Principally of Ngāti Awa, Hirini is also of Tūwharetoa and Tūhourangi descent.

Sir Hirini

Sir Hirini has been involved as a leader in Māori language and culture throughout his teaching career. During his tenure as professor at Victoria University of Wellington, Te Herenga Waka – the university marae – was developed and built, a kōhanga reo established and Māori Studies became a Department in its own right. From 1984 to 1987, Sir Hirini was pivotal in organising and curating the tour of ‘Te Māori’ – the Māori art exhibition that drew world attention to Māori art and, in fact, created huge interest here in New Zealand in Māori arts.

Later, Sir Hirini was instrumental in establishing the Māori tertiary institution, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, in Whakatāne, he has also had a long involvement in the affairs of his iwi, Ngāti Awa, and he is head of its trust board. He led the Treaty settlement negotiations for Ngāti Awa, and a settlement was concluded in 2005. Sir Hirini is now a sitting member of The Waitangi Tribunal.

In 2007, Sir Hirini was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Māori and Education and he was Knighted in 2009.

We honour Sir Hirini for his services to Māori literature. He is a prolific author of papers, articles and books.

Tikanga Maori

His major works are:

  • 1995: Te Toi Whakairo: The Art of Māori Carving
  • 1996: Tawhaki: The Deeds of a Demigod
  • 1997: Māori Art on the World Scene
  • 1999: Taniko Weaving: Technique and Tradition
  • 2001: Published with Neil Grove, Ngā Pepeha a Ngā Tupuna: The Sayings of the Ancestors, which won the Reference and Anthology category of the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards
  • 2003: Tikanga Māori: Living by Māori Values was published with Huia Publishers
  • 2010: With his wife, June, People of the Land was published by Huia Publishers, and this book won the Ngā Kupu Ora Book Awards, Te Reo Māori category.

It is with great pleasure that The Māori Literature Trust presents this special award as a token of appreciation of Sir Hirini’s wonderful life promoting Māori arts and, in particular, his contribution to the written word.

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