Highly-esteemed Māori academic and guardian of te reo and tikanga Māori, Professor James Te Wharehuia Milroy, has passed away this morning. He was 81 years old.
Professor Milroy, of Ngāi Tūhoe descent, was widely acknowledged for his commitment to the maintenance of te reo and tikanga Māori.
His passion for the Māori language led to the establishment of Te Panekiretanga o Te Reo Māori, the Institute of Excellence in the Māori Language in 2004. Milroy, alongside Māori language experts Dr Timoti Karetu and Professor Pou Temara launched the institute to increase the skill of speakers of te reo Māori.
Now in its 15th year, the Institute has seen hundreds of students revitalise the language.
A respected academic at Waikato University, Professor Milroy played a lead role in forging a Māori teaching model which was adopted by other tertiary institutions.
He was a member of the Waitangi Tribunal and part of the panels for the Ngāti Whātua and Wairarapa claims.
Milroy has also been a trustee on Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust and a member of the New Zealand Geographic Board, providing a Māori perspective on topics involving the geography of New Zealand.
Professor Milroy received the QSO in 2003 and was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2012 for services to the Māori Language.
Funeral arrangements for Professor Milroy will be confirmed by his whānau.