The Public Service Commission announced:
Tā Wira Gardiner’s distinguished public service was celebrated today by Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes with a Spirit of Service Lifetime Achievement Award.
This award honours an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to New Zealand or their community and who exemplifies a spirit of service.
Tā Wira is affiliated to Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Awa, and Ngāti Pikiao.
“In his many years in the Public Service and time in the Army, Tā Wira always left a mark,” said Mr Hughes.
“He has influenced generations of public servants through his authenticity and steadfast commitment to serving the people of New Zealand. Many exceptional public servants are what they are because of Tā Wira’s mentorship and inspirational example.
“Tā Wira was called on time and time again to assist in the resolution of major Māori Crown relationship issues. His dedication came from a desire to make a difference in our country.”
I remarked a couple of days ago to someone that Sir Wira was the most competent and accomplished Maori public servant of his generation. He has been a trouble shooter for Ministers of all Governments for over 20 years. New Zealand would be worse off, if it were not for his service over many years.
Te Mana Whakahaere o Awanuiārangi deputy chairperson Rauru Kirikiri and Minister for Children Hon. Kelvin Davis have today announced the Tā Harawira Gardiner Endowed Chair and the Centre for the Child.
The announcement was part of an event hosted by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, honouring Tā Wira for his 58 years of public service, his leadership across the public sector, and for his contributions during some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most sensitive challenges in the Crown and Iwi relationship sphere.
Tā Wira received an honorary doctorate from Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato – University of Waikato, a Spirit of Service Lifetime Achievement Award from Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission, and the highest recognition from the wānanga he helped found and has led at various times – the establishment of an Endowed Chair in his name, and a research centre.
“We are so proud of Wira, all his achievements of course, but mainly of who he is – a loving father, grandfather and uncle, a good friend, and a generous and kind man. The Chair and Centre is such a great way of ensuring that what he has done with his life will have an enduring practical legacy for a better future for kids,” Hekia Parata said on behalf of his whānau.
I’ve known Wira for over 30 years. The fact he was still taking up difficult roles in his late 70s is a tribute to his commitment to NZ. He served in Vietnam, and has been CEO or Chair of so many entities I can’t keep up but they include Te Papa, the Tertiary Education Commission, Civil Defence etc.