Past RANZCP kaumātua and award recipient honoured at a special Pirika Taonga ceremony in Rotorua

A very special ceremony took place in Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand on Thursday 21 July to honour the life of past RANZCP kaumātua (elder) Mr Arama Pirika, and to recognise the inaugural recipient of the award named in his honour.

Held at Ōwhata Marae on Lake Rotorua – Arama’s home marae (communal and sacred meeting ground) – whānau (family) and others paying their respects to Arama gathered for a morning of reflection and celebration.

A pōhiri was performed to welcome the manuhiri (guests) onto the marae, before the group gathered inside for the ceremony.

Ms Moe Milne (RANZCP kaumātua) and Ms Phyllis Tangitu (Te Kaunihera member) shared stories from Arama’s life – many causing the whare (those gathered in the marae) to break into laughter as they remembered the spirit of the man who meant so much to their community.

The whare were then introduced to the award named in Arama’s honour – The Pirika Taonga – and its inaugural recipient Dr Mark Lawrence (RANZCP Board member), who was presented with a pounamu in the form of an engraved jade pendant.

Although unable to attend in person, members of Arama’s immediate whānau joined via video link, including Arama’s son Mr Clark Pirika who provided heartfelt memories of both his dad and mum.

The ceremony was both moving and punctuated with good humour – the deep respect and joy of the Rotorua whānau was palpable.

The College is grateful to all involved, including Te Kaunihera Chair, Dr Claire Paterson, who kindly represented the College and Board during the Ceremony; newly inducted RANZCP kaumātua Mr Ron Baker, for his presence and role; Mr Matthew Heke and Mr Paraone Pirika (members of Arama’s whānau), for their words and contributions; and the Ōwhata Marae for hosting the ceremony.

The College had intended to present the Pirika Taonga at a RANZCP conference in 2020, however travel challenges and restrictions in recent years did not allow this to eventuate.

In future years the Pirika Taonga will be presented alongside other College awards and grants at the annual RANZCP College Ceremony, during Congress. ‘Taonga’ refers to a treasured possession in Māori culture.


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