Lt Colonel (Retd)
​Sir Harawira Gardiner KNZM

​In the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours, Wira Gardiner was appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to Māori. In 2009, following the restoration of titular honours by the New Zealand government, he accepted redesignation as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

A career of public service and contribution to Māori development recognised.

A dedicated iwi leader and public servant had an honorary doctorate conferred by the University of Waikato at Whakatāne in 2019.

Sir Harawira Gardiner (Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pikiao) is well known for the numerous leadership roles he’s held during his long career and his contribution to iwi settlements has been extensive and significant.

Tā Wira has written seven books, two on the history of the 28th Māori Battalion (the second of which was published in 2019), two on the history and tradition of kapa haka, the Fiscal Envelope, a biography of the late former Minister of Māori Affairs, Parekura Horomia, and A Soldier’s View of the Vietnam War. He was working on a book of essays about his career as a public servant to inform his biography.

Wira has had a number of careers including working in the army, in public service and as a writer. While Lieutenant Colonel in the army he took up leadership and establishment roles in the public service, was the founding director of the Waitangi Tribunal, the first general manager of the Iwi

Transition Agency and the founding chief executive of Te Puni Kōkiri. Wira led the Crown’s consultation with the Treaty settlement proposals for the Bolger Government, the foreshore and seabed legislation for the Clark Government and the asset sales proposals for the Key Government.

In 2020, Tā Wira and his wife, Hon Hekia Parata, were commissioned by the University Council to undertake an independent review into claims of systemic and structural racism made by a group of staff. The Parata Gardiner report led to the establishment of a Taskforce to address issues raised and a long-term programme of work within the University.

In 2021, his 59th year of public service, Sir Harawira accepted the role of Acting CEO of Oranga Tamariki. At a ceremony, held at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi also acknowledged his distinguished public service career. Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes presented Tā Wira with the Lifetime Achievement award as part of the annual Te Hāpai Hapori Spirit of Service Awards.

University of Waikato Chancellor, Sir Anand Satyanand, said: “It’s a remarkable coincidence that I conferred a knighthood upon Sir Wira in 2009 as Governor-General on behalf of the Queen, and now, more than a decade later I have the privilege of conferring this doctorate upon him as Chancellor of the University of Waikato.”

​Sir Wira died on March 17th 2022.