Members of Te Hautū Kahurangi (Tertiary Education Union) have paid tribute to Kukupa Tirikātene, affectionately known as Pāpā Kū, who died peacefully on January 28 at his Auckland home surrounded by his whānau.
An Ngāi Tahu elder, Pāpā Kū served as lecturer and kaumātua at Manukau Institute of Technology from 1993 to 2006. He was their Kaiākau at the time of his death. Pāpā Kū was born in Rātana Pā as the eighth of twelve children to former Southern Māori MP Sir Eruera Tirikātene and Lady Ruti Tirikātene.
In recent years, he served as iwi kaumātua for Ngāi Tahu at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa marae and was recognised by Creative New Zealand for his life’s work preserving and furthering Māori culture and language. The thoughts of Te Hautū Kahurangi staff and members are with Kū’s whānau.
Sandra Grey, national president of Te Hautū Kahurangi, said:
“Pāpā Kū made a huge contribution to the lives of so many and will be sorely missed. His mana and mātauranga was an inspiration to us all.”
Bill Rogers, Māori vice president of Te Hautū Kahurangi, said:
“Pāpā Kū used to say that ‘footprints on the earth blow away in the wind, but imprints on the mind stay with us forever.’ His work has made as huge imprint and will always be a part of what we do in the tertiary education sector.”
Haere atu rā e te rangatira, e kore te mahara e makere noa. Moe mai rā koe e Pāpā Kū i roto i ngā ringaringa atawhai o tō tātou Kaihanga.