3 Apr 2016

Māori broadcasting pioneer Whairiri Ngata dies

3:22 pm on 3 April 2016

Tributes are flowing for pioneering Māori broadcaster, journalist and lexicographer Whairiri Ngata, who has died at the age of 74.

Māori broadcasting pioneer Whairiri Ngata has died.

Māori broadcasting pioneer Whairiri Ngata has died. Photo: FACEBOOK/Whai Ngata

Mr Ngata (Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-ā-Apanu) worked as a journalist for more than 40 years, in print, radio and television, and also wrote an award-winning English-Māori dictionary.

On his retirement in 2008, he was described as one of a handful of key figures in the revitalisation of Māori language and culture.

Watch a 2010 NZ On Screen interview with Whairiri Ngata:

Mr Ngata worked for Radio New Zealand from 1975 to 1983, covering the Māori Land March and making an award-winning documentary on the Māori battalion.

He then moved to TVNZ, where he worked for 25 years, on Te Karere, and on the network news. He became head of Māori programmes, introducing programmes such as Marae and Mai Time.

He later worked on an acclaimed series on the New Zealand Wars.

Former colleague and friend Haare Williams was among those remembering Mr Ngata's life and work today.

"Whai Ngata, Purewa Biddle, Ted Nepia and others like him began the process of the big revolution in New Zealand. A revolution in broadcasting, in communications and in education, and Māori broadcasting was, I think, at the front of that," Mr Williams said.

Mr Ngata, who was the great-grandson of long-serving Cabinet minister Sir Apirana Ngata, was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2007.

He died after a short illness, and is survived by his mother, wife and three sons. His body will be taken home to his marae, Hiruharama, in Ruatoria before his tangi.