Matariki Awards: Advocates for Māori during pandemic honoured

By Marena Mane

The Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea (Supreme) Award has been presented to Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā (the National Māori Pandemic Group) in recognition of its work in coordinating a nationwide Covid-19 pandemic response that advocated for Māori. 

The group was established in 2020 shortly after the first New Zealand Covid-19 case was announced in February. Concerned that some Māori communities would be at risk, a collective of Māori medical experts mobilised quickly with the intention of advocating for Māori communities and providing critical advice. More than 50 health experts in the areas of hospital care, primary care, policy analysts, data and monitoring came together.

"We are still operating under the fallacy that one size fits all. A national programme, while necessary, will exacerbate health inequities. While things are being done for the general population, they don't have an equity lens, which is essential from the beginning,” Professor Papaarangi Reid said on the group's website. 

The awards were hosted by award-winning broadcaster Moana Maniapoto in front of an enthusiastic audience that included Minister Willie Jackson and other leading lights of Te Ao Māori.

“The calibre of nominations made the selection process incredibly difficult, but only reinforced to us all that Te Ao Māori is thriving,” Māori Television Tāhuhu Rangapū Shane Taurima said.

The judges were Dr Hinemoa Elder, Professor Rawinia Higgins, Rangimarie Hunia, Dr Rangi Mataamua, Tamati Olsen and Larry Parr.

Matariki awards recipients:

  • Hiwaiterangi - Young Achiever (Those aged under 30 years of age who have made an outstanding achievement in their respective area(s) of interest and demonstrate the potential to be a future aspirational leader Sponsored by Te Kura o te Aho Pounamu): Georgia Latu (Kai Tahu/Ngāpuhi)             
  • Tipuānuku - Education (Those who have made an extraordinary contribution and demonstrated outstanding commitment to education. Sponsored by Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori): Chris Selwyn                                                 
  • Tipuārangi - Arts and Entertainment (Those who have made an extraordinary contribution and demonstrated outstanding commitment to arts and entertainment Sponsored by Toi Māori): Six60                                                           
  • Waitī - Health and Science (Environment) (Those who have made an extraordinary contribution to health and science that includes but is not limited to; legislative and policy development, workforce development and retention, medicine, biophysics, biochemistry, environmental and cognitive sciences. Sponsored by Māori Television): Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā 
  • Waitā - Business and Innovation (Those who have made an extraordinary contribution and have successfully implemented initiatives that demonstrate leadership and commitment to business innovation. Sponsored by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa):  Michelle Baker (Te Tairāwhiti)                  
  • Ururangi - Sports (Those who have made an extraordinary contribution and have successfully implemented initiatives that demonstrate leadership and commitment to business innovation. Sponsored by ACC): Charlisse Leger-Walker (Te Whakatōhea / Ngāti  Porou)
  • Waipunarangi - Te Reo and Tikanga (Those who have made an extraordinary contribution championing the revitalisation of Te Reo Māori me ōna Tikanga and proactively influence and increase awareness of Te Reo Māori me ōna Tikanga in Aotearoa. Sponsored by Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori): Stacey Morrison (Te Arawa / Ngāi Tahu) 
  • Matariki - Community (Māori groups or organisations that have made an extraordinary contribution to enhance the cultural, social, economic and environmental prosperity in their community): Te Māhurehure Marae                             
  • Te Huihuinga o Matariki - Lifetime Achievement Awards (This award honours the achievement of an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the wellbeing of the nation. Sponsored by Te Puni Kōkiri): 
  • Witi Ihimaera (Te Aitanga-A-Mahaki / Tūhoe / Te Whānau-Ā-Apanui) 
  • Dr Ihakara Porutu Puketapu (Te Ati Awa)
  • Kataraina & Tāwhirimātea Williams (Ngāi Tūhoe / Te Whakatōhea / Te Aupōuri / Ngāti Mania)

Shane Taurima described the Matariki Awards as one of the highlights of the Māori Television calendar.

“It is a privilege and an honour to be entrusted with the production of these prestigious awards that recognise and celebrate the outstanding and extraordinary achievements and contributions of some truly inspirational people and groups,” he said.