Northlanders up for Maori awards

By Mike Barrington

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Northland has three men and a team of students among the finalists for the Nga Toa Whakaihuwaka - Maori of the Year Awards 2012.

The men - actor Rawiri Paratene, doctor Lance Sullivan and sportsman Cameron Leslie - and Kerikeri High School's te reo team were among 60 public nominations for the awards.

Judges whittled the nominations down to 27 finalists in nine categories, the winners of which will be announced during a TVNZ Marae Investigates programme on Waitangi Day, February 6.

The overall winner of the Maori of the Year title will also be named and presented with a pounamu trophy.

It will be the second time Marae Investigates celebrates Maori excellence and achievement with a special awards programme.

All Black Piri Weepu took the Maori of Year 2011 title.

Paratene is up against Ria Hall and Chris Winitana in the Toi-Arts category of the awards. Paratene, one of New Zealand's best-known entertainers with a career spanning four decades, was last year executive producer of an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida and lead in The Maori Troilus and Cressida, a te reo Shakespeare production for the Globe Theatre in London.

Kaitaia GP Dr O'Sullivan, Dr Helen Herbert and Janice Wenn will vie for the Hauora-Health category of the awards.

Dr O'Sullivan set up a company to run a new health initiative in the Far North called MOKO (short for Manawa Ora, Korokoro Ora or "Healthy Heart, Healthy Throat"), which provides medical care for 2000 children at 14 schools in the Kaitaia area.

Whangarei Paralympic swimming gold medallist and 150m individual medley world record holder Leslie is lined up against Lisa Carrington and Storm Uru in the Hakina-Sport category of the awards. Leslie, who is of Ngapuhi descent, was Te Toihuarewa-Disabled Maori Sports Person of the Year in 2010 and 2012.

The Kerikeri High School te reo team is in the Rangatahi-Youth category of the awards along with Johnson Rapata Tumai Totorewa and Tama TeWaiwhakaruku Hata.

The team - which included Breeze Durham, Tamiana Iorangi, Savanah Peters-Heihei, Rawiri Webb, Caleb Wilson and Jasmin Winikerei - last year travelled to Indiana as part of winning a national problem solving competition in 2011 for their efforts to promote and preserve te reo Maori in their community.

- Northern Advocate

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