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Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is immensely proud that one of its long-serving exemplars of Māori language tuition and revitalisation, Dr Tīmoti Kāretu, has been awarded a Knighthood.

Dr Kāretu was today (June 5, 2017) bestowed with a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday 2017 Honours list for services to the Māori language.

Te Taiurungi (Chief Executive) o Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Dr Jim Mather, said Dr Kāretu had set a benchmark of consistent excellence in his many years at the forefront of Māori language revitalisation.

“Dr Kāretu has dedicated a greater part of his life to the resurgence of te reo Māori and the highest standards for those who do speak it.”

“It is a source of great pride for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to see his many years of fighting for the wellbeing of our taonga, recognised in this manner.”

Dr Kāretu was among the key drivers of Te Panekiretanga o te Reo (Institute of Excellence in the Māori Language), which Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has facilitated since 2004.

Te Panekiretanga o te Reo is an invitation-only class for fluent Māori speakers to take their language ability to the highest level.

Reflecting upon the Institute’s development, Dr Kāretu said “it’s a positive outcome, and I feel heartened by that, and I know Pou Temara and Te Wharehuia Milroy do as well”.

Dr Kāretu says the knighthood is a reflection of the many people who have battled alongside him to revitalise the language.

“You have all that support and the kind thoughts of those people over the years and it as a consequence of all that support that this honour has been bestowed upon me and that’s what makes me feel humbled.”

He is currently touring Europe with a delegation of 40 Te Panekiretanga o te Reo graduates to look at initiatives multi-lingual countries have to grow the number of indigenous language speakers.

“The initial reason for coming was to look at the ideas of these countries that are struggling with the survival of their own languages. The Welsh are very strong in their attitude, the Scots are really struggling, and the Irish are sort of halfway between these two extremes.”

Māori language speaking numbers have also declined over the past decade in New Zealand, but Dr Kāretu remains defiant.

“It’s an attitudinal thing but the solution is within us, and we can’t give in.”

Dr Mather said Te Wānanga o Aotearoa was indebted to Dr Kāretu and his astute leadership of Te Panekiretanga o te Reo.

“Te Wānanga o Aotearoa again congratulates Dr Kāretu for his Knighthood and looks forward to strengthening our support for Te Panekiretanga o te Reo and continuing his proud legacy.”

On behalf of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Dr Mather also acknowledged all other recipients of Queen’s Birthday Honours.

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