E, he aha tērā? Ko Te Awanuiarangi te rākau rangatira kua topea ohoreretia e Aituā!
He pou tangata, he pou tikanga, he pou tiaki taonga, he pou herenga mō ōna iwi o Tauranga Moana, ko Ngāti Pūkenga, ko Ngāti Ranginui, ko Ngāiterangi, tae rānō ki a Raukawa Te Au ki te Tonga. He tohunga mō tuawhakarere, kua kore. Ko te rākau a Tūkanguha, kua takoto. Ko te pōito whakarewa i te kupenga tāngata o Tauranga Moana i te wā o te tupuhi, kua riro ki ōna mātua tipuna ki Hawaiki pāmamao. E Awa, tēnei tō whānau a Te Papa Tongarewa kei te maimai aroha mōu, okioki rā i te tūturutanga o te ora.
With great sadness, Te Papa acknowledges the passing of a former staff member and great supporter of Te Papa, Awanuiārangi Black, who passed away earlier this week in Tauranga after a short illness.
Awanuiārangi, known affectionately as Awanui or Awa, was appointed as ‘Te Kaihere Umanga-ā-Iwi, Māori Manager from the 18th of December 2000 through to 7 August 2001. This was a newly established role within the National Services Te Paerangi team which helped iwi access resources in the museum sector to empower their own heritage activities. A renowned kapa haka exponent, composer, historian, Te Reo advocate, orator and lecturer, Awanui’s drive to serve and support Māori communities with his formidable set of skills and talents, is a continued theme throughout his life.
While an employee for a relatively short time at Te Papa, Awanui continued to support and work with the museum on many varied projects. He worked with the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme over a number of years. As a valued specialist in Māori culture and tradition in November 2007 he led the Te Papa delegation to uplift and safely return 46 Māori and Moriori ancestral remains housed at nine institutions across the United Kingdom. In April 2009 he liaised between kaumātua of the Tauranga Moana area and Te Papa to return three kōiwi tangata to their place of origin.
Awanui also helped to develop storylines in the blockbuster touring exhibition Whales |Tohorā, which is still sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world as it continues to travel the globe.
As recently as March this year, Awanui continued to share with and assist Te Papa, contributing to a Mātauranga Māori experts’ wānanga organised by Director Ngā Manu Atarau Dr Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal.
Awanui was always a great supporter of Māori achievement and aspirations but, in particular, he was ever focused on supporting the people of his homeland, Tauranga Moana – both those who live there and those who live away. He had exceptional energy and would amaze people with his capacity to get around the country to support as many kaupapa as he could. It is deeply tragic that his leadership has been cut short at so young an age. Our thoughts and aroha are with his people and his whānau at this very sad time.
Awanui’s tangi is taking place at Whetu-o-te-Rangi marae in Tauranga. He is survived by his wife, Anihera, and their children Parearau, Kahotapu, Tawera, Uenuku, and Wiremu.
By Puawai Cairns, Paora Tibble, Te Herekiekie Herewini, and Jason Ake.