Dr Hana O’Regan’s (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha) contribution to the revitalisation of te reo Māori and education over 30 years has been recognised in the New Year Honours.
She has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education, an honour that she has been “blown away and incredibly humbled” by, she has told The Press.
The current chief executive of Tātai Aho Rau Core Education, which promotes equity in education, Dr O’Regan was manager of the Māori language unit and general manager of Oraka – Wellbeing at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and one of the founders of her iwi’s language revitalisation strategy, Kotahu Mano Kāika.
She has also worked at Ara – Te Pūkenga as Māori Department Head and the University of Otago, and was a member of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority’s Māori Advisory Board.
While concerned about the new government’s policies impacting te reo Māori, Dr O’Regan told The Press that she has been uplifted by the “inspiring response” of so many.
“That’s really concerning when you’ve been part of a fight for decades and part of a legacy that goes back centuries in terms of struggle,” she said.
“But I said it’s a paradox because the other side of that has been an inspiring response from so many who are refusing to regress and refusing to go back and are actually cementing themselves in that position of wanting to grow and learn and do better and are coming out louder and stronger.
“When I have felt quite upset about the politics, I have been inspired by that,” she said.