Professor Rangi Mātāmua ONZM named Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Te Pou Whakarae o Aotearoa

Friday 31 March 2023

At a gala dinner in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland last night, Professor Rangi Mātāmua, Tūhoe, was announced as the 2023 winner.

Professor Rangi Mātāmua has been named as the 2023 New Zealander of the Year.

Professor Mātāmua is a Professor of Mātauranga Māori within Te Pūtahi-a-Toi, School of Māori Knowledge. In 2021, he was appointed as the Chief Advisor Matariki and Mātauranga Māori as the Government looked to create the Matariki public holiday.

He chairs the Matariki Advisory Group which provides the Government with advice and guidance on identifying a date, how best to celebrate Matariki and the education and community resources that are needed to improve understanding and knowledge of Matariki across Aotearoa New Zealand.

The first Matariki public holiday occurred in 2022, and Professor Mātāmua has since become known as ‘the man behind Matariki’.

He was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2023 New Year’s Honours list for services to Māori astronomy.

Professor Mātāmua completed his Doctorate of Philosophy at Massey in 2007 and joined Te Pūtahi-a-Toi in September 2021. This role sees him lead Te Pūtahi-a-Toi’s graduate programme to help meet the increasing demand of Māori tauira writing in te reo Māori and engaging in mātauranga Māori-related projects, as well as supporting staff in developing their careers.

The New Zealander of the Year award is known as being the most prestigious national award honouring people for their contribution to the wellbeing of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Following the announcement, Professor Mātāmua told Stuff that winning the award was overwhelming and special to him. He said he hoped Matariki would continue to be celebrated and seen as part of the country’s national identity.

The award has been given annually since 2010, with past winners including filmmaker and actor Taika Waititi, former All Black captain Richie McCaw and mental health advocate Mike King.

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