13 Dec 2011

Personal debt of gratitude to late leader

6:38 am on 13 December 2011

Ngati Porou iwi's chief executive Monty Soutar says he owes a debt of gratitude to one of the tribe's great leaders, Sir Henare Ngata, who died on Sunday.

Sir Henare, 93, was the youngest son of New Zealand's first double university degree holder and Maori leader Sir Apirana Ngata.

He also gained two degrees at Victoria University, after serving with the Maori battalion during World War II.

Dr Soutar says he made a huge contribution to public life and education, the Mangatu incorporation he chaired for 28 years, and the New Zealand Maori Council.

He says if it wasn't for Sir Henare's assistance he couldn't have completed his doctoral thesis on Ngati Porou in the 19th century, or his book Nga Tamatoa, about the Maori battalion's C company.

Monty Soutar says Sir Henare Ngata will be sadly missed.

His tangi will be held on Wednesday at Te Poho o Rawiri marae in Gisborne.