What better way to ring in the new year than by celebrating those who have worked tirelessly to improve and contribute more to their communities.
The list of recipients who will receive New Year’s honours for the New Zealand Order of Merit has been released. Among those honoured are many high profile Māori.
Toby Curtis is a highly prominent Māori educationalist who is widely respected for his innovative achievements. In recognition of his work he will receive a Knighthood of the New Zealand Order of Merit
Dr Curtis' career in education began as a primary school teacher which led to working with intellectually disabled children, he served as Principal of Hato Petera College and Vice Principal of Auckland Teacher's College in the 1980s. In 2012, he was appointed Chairman of the Iwi Education Authority for Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa (Tribal Immersion Schools).
He has also done a lot of work outside of the education sector. He is currently Chair of Te Arawa Lakes Trust, Deputy Chair of Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Strategy Group, Deputy Chair of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Council, a member of the Police Commissioner's Forum, the Iwi Leaders Forum and the Chair of Te Arawa Whānau Ora Region.
He is humbled and was very surprised to receive this award.
Hekenukumai Busby was also awarded for his services to Māori. For years he has and continues to provide a strong contribution to Māori in Northland and New Zealand, specifically in the building and navigation of Māori waka. He has been deemed an Officer of the New Zealand order of merit.
Another recipient, Kingiareta Richard Biddle has a face and voice that is very popular in the Māori broadcasting industry, whether it be radio or TV. However it was his work in the community and Māori Health which was honoured today.
Mr Biddle has led the development of the Ngati Whakaue Te Reo revitalisation programme since 2010, which has helped more than 100 whānau improve their use of Te Reo in the home.
Michael Skerrett of Invercargill was also awarded the Queens medal for his services to Māori and the community. He is also the iwi liason for the Invercargill City Council.
Among further Māori who have been celebrated is Majorie Joe of Napier who has been awarded the Officer of New Zealand Order of Merit for her work with the community and Māori in particular in her region.
Kathleen Maureen Jehly of Rotorua was awarded a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education.
Amoroa Luke of Blenheim was given the Queens service medal for her work with the people of Ngati Rarua.
Reverend Judith Cooper of Auckland was honoured for her services to the community.
Indeed some very impressive recipients this year and rightly so Māori should celebrate their success on the eve of 2014.