Family, close friends, past colleagues, and students gathered at Te Kohinga Mārama Marae at Waikato University to farewell reo Māori educator Professor John Moorfield at the place he spent 23 years teaching.
Of Pākehā descent, Moorfield was a strong advocate and teacher of Māori language. A traditional Māori funeral was held today to honour his memory.
Dr Tom Roa of the University of Waikato says, “We celebrate his great contribution to Māori language, as I said, the Māori world is indebted to him. Such was the nature of the man, respect given, respect received.”
Former student Dr Te Rita Papesch was there to pay tribute.
“He was a humble man who didn't boast. His main focus was always that we all learned Te Reo Māori well,” says Dr Papesch.
Moorfield helped set up Te Tohu Paetahi, a Māori immersion language course at The University of Waikato. He was also behind a drive to create new Māori language resources.
Dr Tame Roa says although Moorefield has passed away, his work lives on.
“His greatest gift, in my opinion, are the books. Te Whanake, Te Kākano, Te Māhuri, Te Pihinga, Te Kōhuretanga, those books that are still being used to teach Māori language,” says Dr Roa.
Papesch says, “Beyond the books, yes the words were ours- however, he collated and published them, are the digital tools of the new world that he made accessible to everyone."
Now he will be buried, but the baskets of knowledge that he weaved will remain to be treasured for generations to come.