Champion for Te Reo and Māori education passes away

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Tributes are flowing for Māori language and Māori education champion Toni Waho (Ngāti Rangi, Te Ati Hau-Nui-ā-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Kahungunu, Waikato), who has passed away.

Māori language has been the foundation of Toni’s contribution over a number of decades through areas such as Kōhanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Māori. 

Mr Waho graduated from Massey University after postgraduate study in Māori Language Policy and Planning with a focus on intergenerational transmission of Te Reo within whānau.

He was involved in the establishment of Te Rūnanganui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori, as well as the development of Te Aho Matua, the underlying principles for Kura Kaupapa Māori whānau, teachers and students.

Mr Waho was the principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Mana Tamariki from 1996 – 2009.

Up until his untimely death, Mr Waho was teaching a Māori language class online.

Mr Waho died after being swept down a river near Tangiwai in the Ruapehu district, while he was out walking last night.

Te Ao spoke with Dr Cathy Dewes, a lifetime friend and Māori language education companion of Mr Waho’s, who said that, “I’m deeply mournful, my soul cries, tears fall... and continue to fall. My dear friend has passed away.”

He leaves behind his three siblings Keri, Rick and Mark, his two children Hinurewa and Peehi and three grandchildren Kala'iakawainui, Kaahuarau and Kūkuluokahonua.

The team at Te Ao and the wider Māori Television whānau express our deepest condolences and aroha to our co-worker Dr Hinurewa Poutu and her whānau.

Moe mai rā e te pāpa, e Toni.