Tairāwhiti’s newest knight, Professor Sir Derek Lardelli was deeply saluted and celebrated in a ceremony yesterday at the place where he was a founding tutor.
The Maia Gallery at EIT Tairāwhiti’s Māori Visual Art school, Toihoukura was the venue to recognise Sir Derek, knighted for his services to Māori art in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List on June 1.
Of Ngati Porou, Rongowhakaata, Ngati Konohi and Ngai Te Aweawe descent, Sir Derek has earned an international reputation for his knowledge of tā moko and its spiritual significance, working to retain and develop the rituals, karakia and oral histories associated with tā moko. He is also a painter, carver, kapahaka performer, composer, graphic designer, researcher of whakapapa and oral histories and whaikōrero.
He is the founding principal tutor at Toihoukura where he has developed a suite of programmes across a range of Māori visual arts. With a Master of Fine Arts and a Diploma of Teaching, Sir Derek has consistently focused on the need to improve Māori educational outcomes using art as a medium. In 2011, he was awarded the title Professor/Ahorangi. In May 2019, an Honorary Doctorate was bestowed on Sir Derek by the University of Waikato.
EIT Tairāwhiti campus manager Waata Shepherd said it was a very special occasion for EIT.
“He is one of our own. We recognise we have a knight amongst us.”
EIT chief executive Chris Collins said he was wearing two hats – he would be returning to his role as chief executive of EIT in a few weeks and he was also interim chief executive of the recently formed New Zealand Institution of Skills and Technology.
“We feel proud of you and the recognition of not just to you but the field of art you work in.”
He also paid tribute to Lady Rose who played an important part of Sir Derek’s journey.
Mr Collins asked what was in the water at Whāngārā.
“There is a lovely marae and a lovely little beach but how come all these great people come out of there?”
EIT executive dean Professor Nat Waran said Sir Derek was an incredible leader.
“You are inspirational and you inspire students. People want more of you and you just spread yourself around.”
EIT glowed in refractive glory from his work and achievements, she said.
EIT Tairāwhiti Kaumatua Taina Ngarimu spoke of noticing Sir Derek’s skills in leadership and art early in his life. He thanked him for bringing back the tā moko.
“You have reinvigorated us and we are incredibly proud.”