Tā Mason Durie awarded NZ's top honour

By Te Ao - Māori News

Tā Mason Durie has been named a member of the Order of New Zealand (ONZ), the country’s highest honour. Previous honorees include the late Sir Edmund Hillary.

Durie of Rangitāne, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Kauwhata descent has dedicated more than 40 years of his life to Māori health and education and was the recipient of a Knighthood of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2010. 

He has been a profound leader for Māori and indigenous academic development in roles as deputy chair of Te Wānanga o Raukawa, professor of Māori Research and Development, and as deputy vice-chancellor at Massey University until 2012. 

He remains Emeritus Professor of Māori Research and Development at Massey University.  

His work has led to the establishment of funding to create a Centre for Māori Health Research, Te Pūmanawa Hauora, and negotiating the Māori mental health programme, Te Rau Puawai, which provides up to 100 scholarships annually for students studying health-related subjects. 

Durie served on the boards of Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand, and the Foundation for Research Science and Technology. He has been chair of the Guardians Group for the Secondary Futures project, and a commissioner for the New Zealand Families Commission.  

He chaired the ministerial taskforce on Whānau Ora and was chair of Te Kāhui Amokura, a standing committee of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee. As chair of the Palmerston North-based Tu Toa Trust, Tā Durie helped establish two new secondary schools in Palmerston North.  

His efforts have been recognised by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the Public Health Association of New Zealand, the Māori Medical Practitioners Association, the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, and the Polynesian Society. In 2019, Sir Mason was appointed as one of three inaugural Ruānuku by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand's Māori Centre of Research Excellence, and received the Blake Medal in 2017. 

Durie was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2010 and a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2001. He is also the recipient of the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.