National | Māori Health

‘Fearless’ wahine Awerangi Tamihere honoured for championing Māori health

Awerangi Tamihere was humbled to receive her New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori health from Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro at a ceremony on Tuesday. Whanau Ora / Supplied

A wahine described as fearless when it comes to speaking up for her people has been honoured for her efforts in championing Māori health.

Awerangi Tamihere (Ngāti Kauwhata, Rangitāne, Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata, Kāi Tahu) was named as a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the King’s Birthday and Coronation Honours List 2023 in June.

She received her insignia for services to Māori health at a ceremony at Government House in Wellington on Tuesday.

“This is an honour and a privilege to be acknowledged for work I am very passionate about and have been involved with for a very long time,” Tamihere said.

Tamihere is the chief operating officer for the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency and the Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust.

“Whānau Ora led the way during Covid-19, with exemplary outcomes that eclipsed other similar agencies,” she said.

“To us, to myself, it was business as usual that continues today to ensure whānau can easily access the health and social services they need.”

Whānau Ora chairwoman Merepeka Raukawa-Tait called the ceremony a “momentous occasion” and showered praise on Tamihere.

“Awerangi is smart, deliberate and dedicated to Māori health and it shows. She leads from the front,” she said.

Awerangi Tamihere, pictured here with her father Sir Mason Durie, has been described as fearless when speaking up for her people. Whanau Ora / Supplied

“Awerangi is fearless when it comes to speaking on behalf of our people and, in doing so, makes huge inroads for whānau. This is well deserved, and I doubt this will be the last of such decorations to be presented to her.”

Tamihere’s father, Sir Mason Durie, was among her whānau in attendance at the ceremony, himself a notable stalwart for Māori in the health sector.

Tamihere is based in Tāmaki Makaurau and began her career as a speech language therapist.

She is a member of the Māori Women’s Welfare League and on the board of directors at Te Aka Whai Ora Māori Health Authority.

“I am very proud to have received this accolade for work I do every day,” she said.