Tā Tipene O’Regan's lifetime achievement recognised at Matariki Awards

By Te Ao - Māori News

Tā Tipene O’Regan has been recognised at the 2020 Ngā Whetū o Matariki Awards with this year's Te Toi o Ngā Rangi - Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tā Tipene was acknowledged for his exemplary achievements and outstanding commitment to Aotearoa during a two-hour special on Māori Television on Saturday evening which celebrated Māori achievement across Aotearoa over the past year.

With Covid-19 limiting options for a traditional awards ceremony, Māori Television sent production crews to the homes and communities of finalists and observed them celebrating with friends and whānau.

Twenty-seven finalists across 11 categories were celebrated at the awards.

Tā Tipene O’Regan received the Te Toi o Ngā Rangi - Lifetime Achievement Award.

About Tā Tipene O’Regan

Few people in Aotearoa, whether Māori, Pākehā or other tauiwi, would fail to recognise Tā Tipene's name.

He was born in Wellington in 1939 to Rena Ruiha O’Regan (nee Bradshaw) of Ngāi Tahu and Rolland O’Regan, a surgeon of West Coast Irish descent. His mother was born in Kōpūtai but raised in Awarua (Bluff). Rena was a nurse and singer, descended from most of the major hapū of Ngāi Tahu.

Although raised and educated in Wellington, Tā Tipene spent significant time as a young child with his mother in Awarua. He studied politics and history at Victoria University in the late 1950s and was a member of the university’s Māori club. The club’s patron at that time was Frank Winter then chairman of the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board.

Tā Tipene's widespread recognition grew mainly from his astute guidance of the Ngāi Tahu Trust Board through successful land and sea fisheries claims before the Waitangi Tribunal, culminating with the tribunal’s reports in 1991 and 1992.

He later led claim settlement negotiations that concluded in the 1998 settlement, which made extensive provision for customary rights in fisheries and other natural resources. He has hardly been idle since.

In 2019 Tā Tipene was made a Companion of Royal Society Te Apārangi in a special announcement by Society President Professor Wendy Larner at Research Honours Aotearoa in Ōtepoti (Dunedin). He was recognised for his exceptional mana, outstanding leadership and eminent contributions to promoting and advancing science, technology or the humanities in New Zealand.

He is a director of a wide range of South Island Māori enterprises but less well known is his role as an academic.

Tā Tipene has deep knowledge of the history and ethnology of Ngāi Tahu and Te Waipounamu. As well, he has a major interest in general New Zealand history and the Maori political economy.

He has published and lectured extensively over many years on Ngāi Tahu traditional history, polynesian migration, treaty issues and the evolution of biculturalism.