An Honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree has been bestowed on Haare Williams, a distinguished Māori elder from the chiefly lineage of Tuhoe and Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, by Unitec Institute of Technology.
This appointment recognises both Haare’s long-standing engagement with Unitec and his contribution to education in Aotearoa New Zealand in its widest sense, as a teacher, in curricula development, and in broadening understanding around Te Ao Māori.
Haare Williams was a distinguished member of Unitec staff from 1994 to 2002, as a tutor, and then as the Dean of Māori Education. Two years later he became the inaugural Pae Arahi, the Māori adviser to the Chief Executive. He helped steer Unitec towards the ‘Te Noho Kotahitanga’ partnership document expressing commitment to te Tiriti o Waitangi, planned much of the early stages of Unitec’s Noho Te Kotangitahi marae and the established Te Puna Reo early childhood centre on campus.
John Webster, Unitec Chief Executive during Haare’s tenure says “I am acutely aware of the many contributions that Haare has made to the cause of education in general, and his absolutely pivotal role in making Unitec a place where so many people have come to appreciate the ways in which Māori and Pakeha life, language and culture intertwine to create a very special educational environment”.
In his early years Haare trained at Ardmore Teachers College, and later returned there to teach education and curriculum development. Haare went on to pioneer Māori radio as the General Manager of Aotearoa Radio, and he hosted the history series ‘Te Pataka Korero’ for Māori Television.
He has worked closely with iwi communities collecting and preparing oral testimonies for presentation before the Waitangi Tribunal and for National Library archives. His governance experience is substantial; he was a two-term city councillor in Papakura, and served on the New Zealand 1990 Commission, with special responsibility for waka construction and their assembly at Waitangi for the 1990 Sesquicentennial. He has made a major contribution to local and national initiatives that have expanded and deepened understandings of, and commitments to, te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Now an independent consultant, Haare’s time is spent supporting programme development in the South Seas Film and Television School, a training ground for Māori broadcasters. He consults on Māori aspects of education, health, business, art and media. He holds the position as Amorangi at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Haare has published poetry, and has been judge for the Watties Book Awards. He is an exhibited painter, and is a script writer and lyricist for film and television.
In 2015, Haare wrote “I grew up with a love of the spoken word; on the marae, in the Bible and later Shakespeare. I paint, write, and sing the sounds and rhythms of the spoken word; I allow these to wash over me like gentle drops of heaven.”