Hon Tā Pita Sharples | Woven Together


Hon Tā Pita Sharples


Our nation has a history of parallel worlds; cultures coexisting without truly connecting. Where we have met, too often it has been a collision, leading to generational misunderstanding, discord, and injustice. In order to cultivate a society that thrives together, we have to find ways to celebrate and benefit from our combined heritage.

Hon Tā Pita Sharples has lived with his feet in two worlds: a pioneering leader of Māori culture, and a respected academic, advisor, and politician within historically Western contexts. He brings this understanding of Aotearoa New Zealand to his vision of how we might connect our ways of living and offer each other the best of what we have.



HON TĀ PITA SHARPLES is a true leader, with mana and experience in many areas of New Zealand’s cultural, political and academic life. First trained as a teacher, he earned a Masters and PhD in Anthropology and Linguistics, and went on to be a Professor of Education at Auckland University—receiving a CBE for services to Māori in 1990 and knighted in 2015 for services as a member of Parliament and to Māori.

Tā Pita was the Iwi Leader of the Ngati Kahungunu Tribe of Wairoa-Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa from 1981 to 1990, and is best known for his roles as founding co-leader of the Māori Party, Minister of Māori Affairs, and Associate Minister of Education and Corrections.

Described as “kaumatua to the nation” and known as Papa Pita, Tā Pita Sharples has played a key role in the Māori renaissance of the last 40 years, operating as a bicultural advocate while working to reconnect Māori with the treasures of their cultural history. Founding CEO of the Race Relations Office, he spearheaded the first intertribal urban marae, and was a significant figure in the development of the kura kaupapa movement, the New Zealand School of Māori Weaponry, and the award winning Te Roopu Manutaki Māori cultural group. Member, advisor, and chairman of countless boards, initiatives, and advisory boards, his achievements are as varied as they are numerous.

Watch his Lecture on YouTube below:

Click here to read the 2015 Sir John Graham Lecture & Q+A monograph.

Sir John Graham

Since 2008, the annual Sir John Graham has provided a unique opportunity to hear leading experts contribute to public debate in New Zealand.

Sir John Graham was an exemplary New Zealander who throughout his life displayed the consistency of character and care for others we hope for in the best of our leaders. Along with his well-known leadership roles as Captain of the All Blacks, Headmaster of Auckland Grammar, and Chancellor of the University of Auckland, Sir John inspired and led many organisations, including Maxim Institute.

Appropriately, he was recognised with a CBE in 1994 for his services to education and the community, and was further honoured when he was knighted in 2011. As a Founding Trustee of Maxim, Sir John Graham’s deep love for New Zealand, his passion for education, and concern for those on the margins of life remain at the heart of our work, and we are honoured to be able to hold this annual lecture in his name.

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