A send-off fit for a king of te reo Māori

By Taroi Black

James Te Wharehuia Milroy QSO had his last send-off before he was laid to rest among the many great orators of our time in Te Arawa.  One of his legacies was the establishment of kura reo, where students say that when one leader dies, another may rise to take their place.

Kawariki Morgan is one of many students taught by Milroy who attended his funeral today.

Former student of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi Marae Kawariki, Morgan says, “Our generation will carry the essence of his teachings into the future.”

“When I first met him, I wondered who this blond hair, bright-eyed man wearing a Russian fur hat was.  Once he spoke I was completely in awe.  We were the lucky ones who sat at his feet.”

“The calibre of people that taught us included Timoti, Haumihiata, Ngahina Turae, Mate Kaiwai, Miria Simpson and Anita Moke.  We had no idea how fortunate we were at the time.”

Te Wharekura o Ruatoki teacher Turuhira Hare says, “His ambitions and vision to revitalise the language was already set years ago.  He went into many Māori schools and trained students such as Mahora, Kawariki, Wairangi- who have obviously excelled.”

“The seed was sown into those schools, it was beautiful.  However, it didn't end like that for them as the initiative of kura reo expanded.”

Wharehuia Milroy will finally take his resting place beside his wife Niwa at Ngongotaha, a sacred mountain of Te Arawa.