Dr Meihana Durie continuing the legacy of his father

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Māori health and cultural academic Dr Meihana Durie (Rangitāne, Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Porou, Rongo Whakaata, Ngāi Tahu) has been appointed as the head of Massey's Māori Studies unit, Te Pūtahi-ā-Toi (School of Māori Art, Knowledge and Education). In doing so, continuing the legacy left by father Sir Mason Durie.

A chip off the old block. Today Dr Meihana Durie was formally welcomed in Palmerston North as head of the School of Māori Art, Knowledge and Education for Massey University.

Dr Meihana Durie says, “To me, education is the vessel that will propel Māori forward. Although there are many trials, we know that by educating and instilling knowledge in our children, we will prosper. So I'm glad to be here today.”

The school was established in 1988 by Sir Mason Durie. Now, his successor has taken the reins. However, the father maintains the day was about Māori education.

Sir Mason Durie says, “This was about Māori education. I think the enthusiasm both from the university and the 100 or so people that came with Meihana to support him, the underlying issue is not who it is, it's about the major topic of Māori education it’s about realising Māori potential.”

Meihana Durie completed his PhD at Massey University in 2011 looking at how to increase Māori success in education and sport by drawing on Māori values, cultural world-views, and customs.

According to Professor Taiarahia Black (Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi), he's the right man for the job. He says, “He has the skills to lead, to dig deep the trenches of education.”

Dr Meihana Durie acknowledges that there is much work to be done. He says, “Alas, I'm focusing on what lies ahead. I know there are many challenges facing Māori. The big question is, what place does education have?”

Sir Mason Durie says, “He'll do it his way, and he'll do it in a way that's relevant to today and tomorrow. When I came here 30 years ago it was quite a different picture and I think now it needs a different approach and I think that that's what the team that's with Meihana I think that's what the team will be working on.”