Dr Ranginui Walker was a prominent leader, historian and academic for Maori.
Dr Ranginui Walker was a prominent leader, historian and academic for Maori.

Maori trailblazer Dr Ranginui Walker held in 'huge esteem'

Maori academic and writer Dr Ranginui Walker has died aged 83.

The academic passed away at his Auckland home. He would have been 84 tomorrow.

Dr Walker dedicated much of his life to promoting Te Reo Maori and history, with a particular passion for ensuring historical events significant to Maori were properly documented.

He also made his voice heard by writing several books, and columns in The Listener magazine for nearly 20 years.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said Dr Walker was held in "huge esteem" throughout New Zealand and by many in the party.

"I have been on many panels with Ranginui and he has always been open to a fiery debate," she said. "He was incredibly well informed, highly opinionated, and always willing to have an open conversation.

"As a Maori activist lawyer, then politician, I have always had a lot to learn from listening and watching kaumatua like Ranginui Walker.

The Green Party and I will miss him.

"Dr Walker wrote that the quest for a fair partnership under the Treaty was 'struggle without end'. Despite his passing, his work in helping to bring new generations together in a better understanding of that partnership endures."

Labour MP Grant Robertson tweeted: "Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Ranginui Walker. A dignified, humble and committed scholar and a leader. Moe mai ra e rangitira."

Singer and documentary maker Moana Maniapoto posted on Twitter: "Incredible legacy & staunch to the end. Ka whawhai tonu ake ake. Ka Nui Te Aroha."

She added: "Spoke to him recently. Clear, consistent & utterly committed. Never wavered. Intellectual great, true warrior."

Media commentator Russell Brown tweeted: "I'm of a Pakeha generation for whom Dr Walker 'was' our view of Te Ao Māori. I feel shattered by his passing."

Academic Dr Paul Moon Dr Walker was an extraordinarily productive researcher and writer, who kept giving seminars and publishing books.

Dr Walker was born into a farming family belonging to the Whakatohea iwi of Opotiki. He was educated at St Peters Maori College, was a primary school teacher for 10 years and was a lecturer at Auckland University from 1967 for five years.

His academic career saw him delving into anthropology, education, and Maori studies.

In the 1970s, he was a member of the Maori activist group Ngā Tama Toa which promoted Maori rights and fought against racial discrimination.

He eventually became a full professor and head of the University's department of Maori studies and served at its first Maori pro-vice chancellor. Dr Walker retired from the university in 1998.

He was one of 10 people being considered for this year's Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year award, for his services to Maori.

Dr Walker was married to Deirdre and they had three children.

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