Dr, Hon Sir 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 education in 1990 and a KNZM for Services to for services as a Member of Parliament and to Māori in 2015.
Despite his long career in academia, Sir Pita 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,” Sir Pita 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.