17 Nov 2009

Tia Barrett's contribution remembered

11:03 am on 17 November 2009

The country's most senior Maori diplomat, Tia Barrett, is lying in state at Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahi, where his Ngati Maniapoto and Tainui people are remembering his contributions to Maori and New Zealand.

Mr Barrett died in Auckland on Sunday at the age of 62, after being taken ill in the Cook Islands, where he was New Zealand's High Commissioner.

Author Witi Ihimaera, who joined the then Foreign Ministry with Mr Barrett in the early 1970s, says he patiently worked to create a Maori dimension to the way New Zealand represents itself overseas, and created opportunities for other Maori to enter the diplomatic service.

As a consequence, he told Waatea News, many Maori are representing New Zealand in overseas posts throughout the world.

Te Rongotoa Barrett, known as Tia, served as a High Commissioner to Solomon Islands and Fiji, and had held the Cook Islands post since January.

He will be at Turangawaewae until Thursday, when his body will be taken to Kahotea Marae in Otorohanga for burial.