Ngā Tamatoa was formed in the 1970’s and was a Māori activist group which promoted Māori rights, and highlighted issues relating to racial discrimination, the loss of te reo Māori and continued confiscation of land.
Through a series of high-profile protest actions, Ngā Tamatoa galvanised public discussion about the rights of Māori.
Made up of mainly urban and university-educated Māori, Ngā Tamatoa often worked alongside the Polynesian Panthers. A number of high profile activists such as Taura Eruera, Syd Jackson, Hana Te Hemara, Tame Iti and Donna Awatere were members.
On 14 September 1972, Ngā Tamatoa (which included Hana Te Hemara) and Te Reo Māori Society presented a petition with more than 30,000 signatures to the Crown to have Māori taught in schools.
This was the beginning of a movement which helped to propel real social and political changes in New Zealand which has seen the establishment of Māori language nests, kōhanga reo, and the kura kaupapa Māori immersion schools.
In 1987, the Māori Language Act was passed by the New Zealand Government, giving Te Reo Māori (Māori language) official language status.
The dedicated work by Ngā Tamatoa started a journey the revitalisation of te reo Māori and other important social and political changes in Aotearoa.
The I am Hana kaupapa honours their journey.
Ngā Tamatoa remained strong on a number of kaupapa. They initiated the annual protests at Waitangi on Waitangi Day, in 1973 after Prime Minister Norman Kirk changed the name of the day to 'New Zealand Day'. The group claimed that the ‘Treaty is a fraud’ because of the ongoing breaches committed by the Government.
Ngā Tamatoa organised the historic 1975 Land March, led by Dame Whina Cooper, from the top of North Island to Parliament in Wellington. They were also involved in disrupting the University of Auckland engineering students’ haka party, a part of the annual student capping parade.
In that same year the government established the Waitangi Tribunal. The government realised they were heavy handed and had been ignoring the Treaty of Waitangi.
In 1979, Ngā Tamatoa wore black armbands to the celebrations to mourn the loss of Māori land much of which had been confiscated or annexed by state legislation. The Auckland Māori Council declared their support of the protest by making a submission that cited fourteen statutes that were currently breaching the Treaty.
The impact Ngā Tamatoa has had on Aotearoa can be felt throughout our education system and many other parts of our social and political landscape.
Hana Te Hemara
Mathew (Sonny) Abraham
Ngahuia Te Awekotuku
Turei Mokaraka (Danny) Heke
Wairere Tame Iti
Teorongonui Josie Keelan
Eruera (Ted) Nia
Bruce Snow Parr
Hirini Barney Pikari
Peter David Rāwiri
Kura Te Waru Rewiri
Linda Tuhiwai Smith
Ngahuia Te Awekotuku
Patrick Te Hemara
Anita Brown Wairea
Lynette (Hawkins) White
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