Dr Pita Sharples
BNZ Excellence in Māori Farming Ahuwhenua Awards 2015 – Launch

 

Dr Pita SharplesHon Dr Pita Sharples, is the Co-leader of the Māori Party and Minister of Māori Affairs. He is often described as kaumātua to the nation, grew up in a time when Māori had little respect in New Zealand.

Born in 1941 in the Hawke’s Bay town of Waipawa, Pita grew up poor and rough. He was frequently beaten by his English-born father and says it wasn’t until he attended Te Aute College that his life started to turn around. Pita thrived at the school and graduated as head boy, going on to study education at Auckland University and later becoming a doctor of anthropology and linguistics.

Much of Pita’s adult life has been away from the political arena.

In the 1970s he rose to prominence as CEO of the inaugural Race Relations Office. He worked alongside gangs in his role, helping to educate gang members and give them employment. In his pre-political career, Pita was heavily involved in primary and secondary schooling – with a focus on Māori education – and taught as a professor at Auckland University.