Huirangi in December 2008. Photo: Gleb Raygorodetsky, used with permission
Māori Elder, Champion of the language, Orator, Knowledge Holder, Spiritual Person Te Huirangi Eruera Waikerepuru has left his whanau, hapu and iwi in Taranaki, Aoteoroa (New Zealand). Snowchange joins in remembering this one of the most remarkable Indigenous leaders of all time.
Te Huirangi Eruera Waikerepuru was born 1st April, 1929 and died on 8th April 2020. He was 91 years old. Huirangi was trained by a group of Elders early on in the Ohangai region of Taranaki. According to his relatives “Te Huirangi is and has been for many decades an example of what it means to be Māori from Taranaki, always remaining humble and grounded in his ancestral knowledge while staunchly promoting kaupapa Māori (Maori visions, aspirations etc.) and Maori and Indigenous rights on a national and international level.”
Huirangi established the Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo Māori language training and also coordinated Māori radio in the region from 1988 onwards. Today there are over 20 radio stations around Aoteoroa all thanks to Huirangi’s vision. He worked on every possible avenue of life to advance Māori issues and resurgence.
A detail from the Owae marae. Photo: Gleb Raygorodetsky
Snowchange connected with Te Huirangi Eruera Waikerepuru and his people through Mahinekura Reinfelds, who passed in 2007. In 2008 Te Huirangi Eruera Waikerepuru and Snowchange organized a large international Conference Snowchange 2008 at the Owae Marae to discuss climate change, community led revitalization, language and other issues where dozens of Arctic and northern Indigenous peoples and Māori exchanged for a week, in December 2008. This led to the Mahinekura Declaration, solar electrification programme of the nomadic camps in NE Siberia, large scale ecological restoration work and permanent work relations between the Māori of Taranaki and Snowchange.
The event transformed many of the Snowchange delegates that received inspiration and life-long commitment for their own work after witnessing the power, knowledge and methods of Te Huirangi Eruera Waikerepuru and his community. We remain ever thankful and join in mourning with his community. Te Huirangi Eruera Waikerepuru was made a Honorary Doctor from the University of Waikato and in 2014 received the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.