Pouroto Ngaropo, one of Aotearoa’s leading cultural ambassadors for knowledge in mātauranga Māori, tikanga and kawa, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) earlier this week.
It was in recognition of his leadership and contribution to Māori education, Māori media and hauora Māori both in New Zealand and internationally.
Speaking from outside the Aotea Centre where 600 students graduated, Ngaropo said he was humbled to be given such an accolade, and acknowledged those who gave him the honour “for all Māori, hapū and marae”.
A humbled Pouroto Ngaropo accepts his honorary doctorate from AUT.
Reflecting on the interest in te ao Māori by mainstream institutes that has grown in recent years, Ngaropo says, “the Māori world has its own mana as does mainstream.
"Today, we saw the esteemed doctors of this institute, the professors come to pay tribute to my capping, acknowledging the importance of Māori knowledge at this institute, AUT. They go hand-in-hand.
“Māori had their own institutes of learning, mastering skills such as carving and others. Those were the types of institutes our ancestors graduated from, and were designated as experts of the tribe, hapū and marae. But we live now in a modern world.
“As Tā Apirana Ngata said, 'Grow up in the days destined to you'."
Ngaropo has been deputy chair of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, participated in settlement negotiations for the iwi, and played a significant role in creating Māori health strategies that involved iwi throughout what was then the Bay of Plenty district health board region.
In 2019, he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for contributions to Māori and governance.