Indigenous | Investitures

Dick Garratt 'humbled' by Queen’s Birthday honour

Ngāi Tūhoe's Richard (Dick) Garratt has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his service to tennis and Māori sports.

Garratt says he was reluctant at first to accept the honour but is "ultimately humbled" to receive the “awesome” recognition.

It was the encouragement his wife gave him that motivated his acceptance of the award, as well as the support she gave over a lifetime of work and service, he says.

“I wouldn’t be able to do this without my wife.”

Among the many people Mr Garratt credits for his lifelong devotion, he mentions Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu and Te Arikinui Tuheitia Paki; two of the patrons of the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Association and Māori Sports Awards Te Tohu Tākaro o Aotearoa Charitable Trust.

Mr Garratt points to other elders and mentors who inspired his dedication to Māori sports and tennis - big names in te ao Māori and the sporting world such as Sir Apirana Ngata, Sir John Tūrei, Albie Pryor, Pat Walsh and Sir Tāmati Reedy for teaching and guiding him.

The commitment behind Garratt’s achievements is led by his passion for people.

High hopes for the future

“It’s the people that you meet and mix with,” he says.

Garratt stays focused on those people who supported him when discussing any challenges he has faced.

“I feel blessed to have had these people tautoko me all through my life.”

He says he was confronted by questions about what exactly Māori tennis was - but these obstacles remained “far and few between” as he strove to uphold the identity of Māori athletes.

Mr Garratt has high hopes for the future and maintains his dedication to Māori sport and tennis.

He looks back at the beginnings of the Māori Sports Awards, and the success that was built upon them.

He is hopeful someone with his and his mentors' passion for people will take up the challenge to maintain the work of the Māori Tennis Association and Māori Sports Awards.