Kukupa Tirikatene of Ngāi Tahu has been appointed an officer of the NZ Order of Merit for services to Māori and education. He's also the kaumātua at the Manukau Institute of Technology in South Auckland, the founding member and kaumātua for Ngāi Tahu Whānui in Auckland and cultural advisor to the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.
Kukupa Tirikatene told Te Kāea, “I would like to pay homage to those who thought highly of me.”
For almost 40 years Mr Tirikatene has been a passionate teacher of te reo, Māori history and tikanga. In 1976 he was the first Māori language teacher at Rosehill College in Papakura and provided strong support for Māori communities.
He's a master of composing proverbs and a man with a strong vision.
He says, “Follow the path of knowledge to attain greatness. But don't forget the matters of the heart and the warmth of peace. Be humble and stand strong. “
As he strides into the New Year with a new title he has a simple wish for the year to come, “To support my wife in all that she does. She's the only one who keeps me grounded.”