‘Ex­cep­tional, coura­geous’ leader hon­oured

Dame Tar­i­ana Turia's decades of tire­less work have been recog­nised with a top award, writes Jamie Mor­ton

Weekend Herald - - News -

“To know our­selves, our strengths, our chal­lenges and chart our own course.” To Dame Tar­i­ana Turia, who came to promi­nence as a leader dur­ing 1995’s 79-day Moutoa Gar­dens protest and went on to co-found the Ma¯ori Party, those have al­ways been words to live by.

Four years af­ter leav­ing Par­lia­ment, Dame Tar­i­ana last night re­ceived the Blake Medal — the top hon­our for lead­er­ship given by the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

Pre­sented by Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral Dame Patsy Reddy at a cer­e­mony aboard the HMNZS Can­ter­bury in Auck­land, the award recog­nises in­spi­ra­tional lead­ers who have shown de­ter­mi­na­tion — much like the late, great yachts­man whose legacy the trust con­tin­ues.

By the time the wider pub­lic came to know Dame Tar­i­ana, she was al­ready recog­nised within Ma¯oridom as a trail­blaz­ing leader, hav­ing launched Te Oran­ganui Iwi Health Au­thor­ity, New Zealand’s first and largest iwi-led pri­mary health or­gan­i­sa­tion (PHO).

Dame Tar­i­ana served 18 years in Par­lia­ment as an MP, leav­ing Labour and help­ing es­tab­lish the Ma¯ori Party amid the furore of the fore­shore and seabed de­bate in the early 2000s.

“It’s not about mak­ing the pop­u­lar choice,” she said.

“It’s about mak­ing the right choice.”

Among her big­gest ac­com­plish­ments was gain­ing tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in fund­ing for rheumatic fever preven­tion, an ex­haus­tive smok­ing re­form cam­paign, which spanned ev­ery­thing from pack­ag­ing to tax­a­tion, and her flag­ship kau­papa, Wha¯nau Ora.

To­day, 250 Wha¯nau Ora nav­i­ga­tors op­er­ate around the coun­try, help­ing Ma¯ori and Pasi­fika fam­i­lies develop plans to bet­ter their lives.

A mother of six chil­dren, grand­mother of 27 and a great­grand­mother of 33, Dame Tar­i­ana was raised in the small vil­lage of Pu­tiki, on the Whanganui River.

Among her men­tors was Pro­fes­sor Whatarangi Wini­ata, who of­ten re­minded her to lead a life ac­cord­ing to the tikanga and teach­ings she’d grown up with.

“Our elders have al­ways held me to ac­count, and I have loved that.”

When a Treaty of Wai­tangi set­tle­ment gave the Whanganui River its own le­gal iden­tity — and thus the same rights as a per­son — Dame Tar­i­ana was fit­tingly ap­pointed to act as its voice, some­thing she called “the most im­por­tant role of my life”.

While she’d never thought of her­self as a leader, she be­lieved the abil­ity to lead re­sides in ev­ery­body — it just needed to be iden­ti­fied and en­cour­aged.

“She be­lieves in con­duct­ing con­ver­sa­tions in such a way that they en­hance the mana of oth­ers,” said Te Pu¯tahi­tanga o Te Wai­pounamu chief ex­ec­u­tive

He­len Leahy, who has worked along­side Dame Tar­i­ana for two decades, and wrote her bi­og­ra­phy.

“What she has done has been trans­for­ma­tional for this gen­er­a­tion and gen­er­a­tions to come.”

Sir Peter Blake Trust chief ex­ec­u­tive James Gibson de­scribed Dame Tar­i­ana as one of New Zealand’s “ex­cep­tional and coura­geous” lead­ers, who had al­ways served in the best in­ter­ests of her peo­ple.

“Her tire­less cam­paigns to help oth­ers pros­per is an out­stand­ing lead­er­ship legacy.”

Dame Tar­i­ana was hon­oured along­side Blake Leader Award re­cip­i­ents Peter Beck, Dr Miles Gre­gory, David Cameron, Ali’imua­mua San­dra Alofi­vae, Soana Akolotu Pa­maka and As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Rochelle Con­stan­tine.

Peter Beck

Peter Beck’s life work has placed New Zealand at the fore­front of an ex­cit­ing new era in space flight and ac­cess to or­bit.

Hav­ing dreamt of space flight all his life, the en­gi­neer-turne­den­trepreneur took Kiwi in­ge­nu­ity on a pi­o­neer­ing jour­ney into space, and in the process built a bil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness from a seem­ingly im­plau­si­ble dream.

Rocket Lab is now es­tab­lished in New Zealand and the United States as a premier in­sti­tute for in­no­va­tive space sys­tems.

This year, Rocket Lab com­pleted its first or­bital launch, be­com­ing only the sec­ond pri­vate com­pany in the world to do so, and the first pri­vate com­pany in the South­ern Hemi­sphere to reach space.

Dr Miles Gre­gory

Dr Miles Gre­gory took a Shake­spearean dream, in­spired by his daugh­ter, and turned it into a mod­ern-day New Zealand suc­cess story.

The Auck­land artis­tic di­rec­tor is the founder and vi­sion­ary be­hind the world’s first Pop-up Globe theatre, recre­at­ing a full-scale work­ing replica of 1614 Lon­don’s fa­mous venue.

“I was read­ing Nancy, my daugh­ter, a bed­time story,” Gre­gory ex­plained.

“It was a pic­ture pop-up book and one of the pop-ups was the Globe theatre. Nancy asked whether we could go there. I said, ‘We can’t. The near­est Globe replica is a long way away . . .’ then I stopped and thought . . . a pop-up Globe . . . and now here we are.”

Since it opened in 2016, more than 450,000 peo­ple have seen Pop-up Globe pro­duc­tions over four sea­sons in Auck­land and Mel­bourne.

David Cameron

Ed­u­ca­tor David Cameron in­vented a series of web­site tu­to­ri­als, which have helped count­less young peo­ple pass ex­ams, and ac­cess the ca­reers of their dreams.

As a young teacher, search­ing for in­no­va­tive ways to sup­port his stu­dents’ learn­ing and help them stay in school, he de­vel­oped LearnCoach.

Since launch­ing in 2012, LearnCoach has pro­vided 150,000 stu­dents with in­di­vid­ual tu­ition — all up, those stu­dents col­lec­tively watch about a mil­lion free video tu­to­ri­als each year.

Cameron has con­tin­ued to in­no­vate, ad­ding univer­sity cour­ses to the mix and, re­cently, launch­ing New Zealand’s first Sec­ond-ChanceS­chool, where refugee cen­tres, pris­ons and hos­pi­tal wards can in­stantly be­come pop-up class­rooms.

He is lead­ing New Zealand ed­u­ca­tion into an ex­cit­ing new era, em­pow­er­ing dozens of dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties.

Ali’imua­mua San­dra Alofi­vae

A lawyer of 29 years, Ali’imua­mua San­dra Alofi­vae has de­voted her­self to ad­vo­cacy for fam­i­lies and youth, par­tic­u­larly within South Auck­land’s Pasi­fika com­mu­nity.

In do­ing so, she has en­sured that ev­ery child she comes across has the best chance to make their mark.

Alofi­vae be­lieves strong com­mu­ni­ties are built by fam­i­lies and wha¯nau able to flour­ish in their sur­round­ings.

She has stood by this be­lief while serv­ing in var­i­ous lead­er­ship roles, in­clud­ing Fam­i­lies Com­mis­sioner, and hold­ing key board po­si­tions in health, so­cial wel­fare, and not-for-profit so­cial ser­vice.

Her hands-on role as Fam­i­lies Com­mis­sioner would even­tu­ally lead to the 2014 Vul­ner­a­ble Chil­dren Act — a bold move to bet­ter pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren by im­prov­ing their well­be­ing.

Soana Akolotu Pa­maka Ta­maki Col­lege prin­ci­pal Soana Akolotu Pa­maka is re­lent­less in pur­suit of any tool, pro­gramme or in­no­va­tion which could give her stu­dents an edge.

Pa­maka sees her role as not only shap­ing the school, but also the com­mu­nity within which it sits.

Her motto is: If we can get it right as a school, then the whole com­mu­nity will ben­e­fit.

Soana be­came New Zealand’s first Ton­gan se­condary school prin­ci­pal in 2006, and has since led Ta­maki Col­lege through a process of trans­for­ma­tion and in­no­va­tion.

She has worked with a num­ber of part­ners to lift aca­demic per­for­mance, ex­pand job train­ing, in­tro­duce world-class dig­i­tal learn­ing pro­grammes and pro­vide a multi-faceted health ser­vice at the De­cile 1 school.

As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Rochelle Con­stan­tine

An ac­com­plished bi­ol­o­gist and an in­spi­ra­tional lec­turer, As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Rochelle Con­stan­tine is a re­lent­less cham­pion for the marine en­vi­ron­ment.

Her aca­demic record, as one of New Zealand’s most dis­tin­guished marine ecol­o­gists, spans decades of

ground­break­ing re­search into the habits of marine mam­mals.

Her re­search has led to ex­panded pro­tec­tion for hump­back whales and Ma¯ui dol­phins and re­vi­sion of in­ter­na­tional dol­phin-watch tourism prac­tices.

Her ac­com­plish­ments as a con­ser­va­tion cam­paigner are just as sig­nif­i­cant. She led the suc­cess­ful cam­paign to slow traf­fic in the Hau­raki Gulf, all but elim­i­nat­ing whale-strike by seago­ing ves­sels in the re­gion.

Her work as a re­searcher and pas­sion­ate marine science lec­turer is an in­spi­ra­tion to stu­dents in the Univer­sity of Auck­land’s School of Bi­o­log­i­cal Sci­ences and In­sti­tute of Marine Science, where she shares her wide knowl­edge and re­solve.

Soana Pa­maka is in­tent on giv­ing her Ta­maki Col­lege stu­dents the edge; in­spi­ra­tion for Miles Gre­gory’s Pop-up Globe theatre came from his daugh­ter (right).

Rochelle Con­stan­tine

David Cameron (top); San­dra Alofi­vae (above) and Peter Beck (be­low).

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