The Queen’s Birthday Honours list had a special honour for our own special Māori warden Ray Kopuraehana Coffin. Ray from Te Kuiti has been involved with the Māori Wardens Association in Mangakino for over 50 years. He was a tower of strength in his local community working with District and Regional Māori councils to develop strong community strategies. He also worked outside Te Kuiti at big events like Kapa Haka celebrations, Waitangi Day and shearing competitions.
He was just one of many Māori who were recognised by the Queen this year. By my count 21 Maori community, arts and entertainment leaders were honoured. People like Sir John Rowles, the voice that launched a thousand parties; Sir Hekenukumai Busby who has inspired waka building across the country; Timua Brennan our own opera star who specialises in the fusion of Māori and Italian songs and Matuteara Clendon the man behind Te Rawhiti marae who scuttled a frigate off the coast to boost fish habitats – to name just a few.
And Māori women also shared in the honours this June with ONZMs going to Christine Brears for services to health, Briar Grace Smith for services to theatre and film, Carol Ngawati for services to sport, education and Māori, Caren Rangi for services to the Pacific community and Desma Ratima for services to Māori. Dr Sharon Gemmell, Gabrielle Huria , Laura Mariu , Rebecca Mellish and Christine Panapa all were honoured with the MZNM.
This was a great showcase for Māori achievement and I congratulate every Kiwi who was honoured.