David Thomas Higgins, Susan Mary Huria and Ruruarau Heitia Hiha will be recognised as members of the New Zealand Order of Merit for their contribution to Māori.
Mr David Thomas Higgins
David Thomas Higgins is being recognised for services to Māori, and more specifically to his iwi Ngāi Tahu.
Higgins has been Upoko Runanga for Moeraki since 1980 and recently retired as the Moeraki representative on Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu after two terms.
Higgins was appointed as the Arowhenua Board member of the Ngai Tahu Māori Trust Board that lodged the Ngai Tahu claim before the Waitangi Tribunal in 1986. He was largely responsible for gathering and presenting much of the fisheries evidence that was presented to the Tribunal.
His efforts in leading the Ngai Tahu Fishing Company resulted in Ngai Tahu having a substantial financial base prior to the eventual settlement of the Ngai Tahu claims with the Crown.
In 2000 he was appointed as Pou Kura Taiao for the Canterbury Conservancy of the Department of Conservation.
He played a key role in the establishment of the Ngāi Tahu Cultural Mapping project in the 2000s, which is responsible for recording Ngāi Tahu cultural knowledge on the Tribal Geographical Information System.
He is a Committee member of the Ngai Tahu Fund Komiti, is a past member of the Ngai Tahu Contracts Review Komiti, and until recently was a Trustee and Chair of the historic Kaiapoi Pa Trust in North Canterbury. Mr Higgins is involved with his local community as a member of the Runanga Education Komiti and an education advisor to North Otago schools.
Ms Susan Mary Huria
Susan Huria is a specialist in Māori governance and has worked with a wide number of iwi and Māori organisations on constitutional reviews and strategy development, board appointments and evaluation, and as a board advisor.
Ms Huria was a director of the Ngāi Tahu Development Corporation, Chair of its audit committee, and was appointed a director of Ngāi Tahu Property in 2013 where she chairs the remuneration committee. She was a member of the Māori Governance Centre Advisory Board for the University of Waikato and a Trustee of First Foundation and Workbase, the national centre for workplace literacy.
She served terms as a director of Radio New Zealand, Housing New Zealand, Watercare Services, Airways, and as Deputy Chair of AgResearch. She has held advisory board and review panel roles for the Advertising Standards Authority and Whitecliffe College of Art and Design. She is currently Chair of Veterinary Enterprises Group and a director of Marsden Maritime Holdings and Connexis.
She is the independent Chair of the Māori Television Service remuneration committee and a Chartered Fellow and Auckland Branch Committee member of the Institute of Directors. Ms Huria co-founded her company Huria Anders in 2000.
Mr Ruruarau Heitia Hiha
Heitia Hiha is a kaumātua of Ahuriri Hapū and a key driver of progress on the Ahuriri Hapū Treaty claims, having made clear submissions to the Waitangi Tribunal on seven different claims and been committed to attending negotiations.
Mr Hiha was a Māori All Black in the 1950s and has been a teacher and respected representative on a wide range of committees representing the interests of Māori within local and central government.
He has been iwi liaison officer for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and kaumatua for Napier City Council, and chaired the Napier City Council's Māori Consultative Committee from 1991 to 1999. He was appointed to the Hawke’s Bay Conservation Board in 1993. He has been a Trustee for Mana Ahuriri Inc since 2009 and a Trustee of Te Awahohonu Trust and Tataraakina C Block Trust.
Mr Hiha has been a Justice of the Peace since 1982 and was a Trustee of the Waiapu Diocese Board from 1987 to 2006.
He received the Napier City Council Civic Award in 2006.