He's been the chairman of his marae for over four decades, and is a humble leader within his respective iwi of Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Rārua.
Rore Stafford has dedicated his life to working for the betterment of his people and this year will be made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori.
Stafford has had an extraordinary life. In 1986 he co-lodged the Wai 56 Claim on behalf of the Māori customary owners of the Nelson Tenths' Lands and Occupation Lands in Nelson, Motueka and Golden Bay, and has led the team dedicated to seeking restitution for 31 years.
Mr Stafford has been a member of the Board of Wakatū Inc. since 1985 and a key driver behind the strategy and direction of Wakatū’s commercial businesses Whenua and Kono NZ LP. Both businesses represent what matter most to him.
"I got involved in my dad's side of the genealogy and the corporation it's all about food. We're about food," Stafford says.
Kono NZ LP was the winner of the Te Tupu-a-Nuku award at the 2018 Matariki Awards night.
He played a central role in establishing and has led the Manaaki sector within Wakatū, which is responsible for all scholarship and alumni programmes, including a governance succession programme as well as community outreach programmes.
He was a founding member of the Maniapoto Marae PACT Trust in 1980 and has been Chairman for more than 20 years. The Trust was established to fundraise for the marae and has since expanded to provide support to whānau with training and education programmes, and health and social welfare services in local communities.
He was active in a group that worked on land reforms that directly impacted on the Māori Reserved Lands Amendment Act 1997. Mr Stafford has been Deputy Chair of the Maniapoto Trust Board, a Trustee of Pukepoto Farm Trust, and has been Chairman of Kaputuhi Marae for 40 years.
Stafford is humbled to be receiving the service medal and says he is passionate about what he does.
"You can get lost in that other world and forget what you're there for. But it's really quite simple for me really the kaupapa for me, I talk about land and I talk about families. And that's what you're there for."