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In memoriam: Aramakaraka Pirika, Kaumātua

27 February 2017

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) is deeply saddened to learn of the death of our Kaumātua, the highly respected spiritual head of the College in New Zealand, Mr Aramakaraka Pirika, a descendant of Te Arawa. He was kaumātua to several marae in Ngāti Te Roro o te Rangi, Ngāti Uenukukopako and Ngāti Tuteniu.

Arama was a lead Kaumātua within Te Ao Māori me ona tikanga (the Māori world and customs) and in 2006, he was put forward by his community as Kaumātua for Te Kaunihera mo ngā kaupapa Hauora Hinengaro Māori to provide cultural and spiritual guidance and leadership to psychiatrists, students and trainees.

In recognition of his great commitment and work with people with mental illness in the Te Arawa region, Arama was later appointed the Kaumātua for the RANZCP in 2008. He joined the New Zealand National Committee, Tu Te Akaaka Roa, and through his skills, networks and knowledge, ensured that the RANZCP had expert advice and appropriate leadership in relation to Māori Tikanga (protocol). He also ensured we had a voice and face within Māoridom and provided a respected and ‘inclusive’ voice and strong identity for our Māori students, trainees and psychiatrists.

Arama’s role and presence was vital for the College by encouraging and facilitating an effective relationship for the College with Māori and non-Māori in public, political, educational and clinical arenas. His mana (authority and status) permeated everything he contributed too.

His tireless work with and for Māori with mental illness, his leadership and guidance in relation to appropriate service provision to Māori, and his extensive contributions to the work of the College as Kaumātua were acknowledged by receiving the RANZCP’s Mark Sheldon Award in 2010.

Arama made extensive contributions to the work of the RANZCP, shared his experience and knowledge at regional and national levels, and was highly respected for his humility and wisdom.

The President, Chief Executive Officer, members and staff will greatly miss his positive influence, and also the warmth with which he greeted us whenever we met. He was greatly admired and respected by us all.

Nō reira, e te Rangatira e Aramakaraka haere atu rā, moe mai rā, i roto i ngā ringaringa ō tō tātou Ātua.

For more information see The Rotorua Daily Post report: Thousands pay tribute to valued kaumatua