A research centre dedicated to improving the lives and wellbeing of tamariki is to be established within Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi in recognition of Tā Wira Gardiner’s contributions to society.
The Minister for Children, Hon Kelvin Davis made the announcement with Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi at an event in Whakatane, honouring Tā Wira for his dedication and commitment to 59 years of public service and his long period of leadership across the public sector.
The public service, led by Te Kawa Mataaho, will work in partnership with the Wānanga to support the establishment of the Centre for the Child and the appointment of the Inaugural Endowed Chair of the Centre for the Child.
“It’s important to acknowledge Tā Wira’s hard work, dedication, passion and commitment to the Ministry, but more importantly to tamariki, rangatahi and whānau,” Kelvin Davis said.
“Tā Wira’s success as a public servant was underpinned by the skills he gained from 20 years in the Army; and that where one door closes, another opens. Every door that has opened for him has presented a challenge that’s been important, exciting, and ultimately successful.”
The Gardiner Centre for the Child will share the same aims that Ta Wira is passionate about and its work will explore how resources and decision-making can be shared with whānau, hapū, iwi and communities to encourage more community-driven approaches that benefit children.
Tā Wira, a former Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki, has also played a major role in guiding the Ministry towards the transformational change needed to improve the childcare and protection system.
During his tenure he challenged the Ministry to contribute to changes that see a major shift in decision-making and resources at a local level including:
• building public trust and confidence in Oranga Tamariki
• responding to the four reviews of Oranga Tamariki, including the Waitangi Tribunal report and the Ministerial Advisory Board Report, that have called for Oranga Tamariki to improve policies and practice and strengthen cultural competency
• exploring how resources and decision-making can be shared with whānau, hapū, iwi and communities to enable more localised and community-driven approaches.
Tā Wira has today also received an honorary doctorate from Waikato University and a lifetime achievement award from Te Kawa Mataaho/Public Service Commission.