Te Tohu Oranga Angitu | Lifetime Achievement
Professor Pou Temara was taken as a newborn by his grandparents Tamahou and Pareraututu to Waikarewhenua, in the heart of Te Urewera. The humble earth-floor house was constructed of kaponga, the roof was kanuka bark. His friends were the many animals, his environment the forest and his language was te reo Māori. Here that Pou began his schooling in whaikōrero, waiata, whakapapa and tribal traditions. His grandparents were joined in his instruction by grand uncle and Tūhoe tohunga Hikawera Te Kurapa.
At age seven, Pou and his grandparents relocated – five hours by horse - to the metropolis of Ruatāhuna so Pou could attend Huiarau Native School. He had no English, and was drilled by his grandmother to parrot his first non-Māori sentence,
“My name is William Te Rangiua Temara, I am seven.”
Pou excelled, and went on to Wesley College in Auckland. After a short OE, he returned to Aotearoa to mourn the passing of his grandfather. Following successful careers in marketing and broadcasting, Pou went on to complete his training, once again under the supervision of his tohunga Hikawera.
In the early 1980s Pou began teaching at Victoria University. Initially head-hunted by Professor Hirini Moko Mead, Pou became tohunga, senior lecturer and head of school at Te Kawa a Māui over 24 years. A long-serving member of the Tūhoe Waikaremoana Trust Board, Pou and Te Wharehuia Milroy, headed Te Whare Kōrero o Tūhoe, teaching whaikōrero, karanga and traditional knowledge to Tūhoe descendants.
The triumuriate of Wharehuia, Sir Tīmoti, and Pou has for 14 years nurtured a new generation of Māori language exponents through Te Panekiretanga o te reo Māori, its influence permeating te Ao Māori. His impact is clearly recognisable in the whaikōrero delivered by his students. Pou is the paramount tohunga of Te Matapūnenga, a group of Māori language and cultural exponents who he has instructed in traditional incantations.
Pou is Professor of Te Reo, Tikanga and Philosophy at The University of Waikato, a member of the Waitangi Tribunal and chair of the Te Papa Repatriation Advisory Panel. Above all Pou is known for his expertise in whaikōrero, for his knowledge of reo and tikanga and for his standing as the leading tohunga of his generation.
His word is rarely contested. Despite his many accomplishments, his reputation and the precious knowledge he has bestowed upon his students, his heart will always be in Te Urewera. He will forever remain connected to the humble kaponga whare where he was raised, next to the Whakatāne river at Waikarewhenua.
“Ko au ko Te Urewera, ko Te Urewera ko au”.