A former Maori All Black who received a Queen's Birthday honour says he has gratefully accepted the appointment as a mark of respect for his elders.

Ruruarau (Heitia) Hiha was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to Maori.

Mr Hiha was a Maori All Black from 1954-57 and has been a teacher and respected representative on a wide range of committees representing the interests of Maori within local and central government.

His motivation for this work was from hearing historical stories growing up and then using them for the benefit of his people, he said.


"I feel like I'm getting the honour on behalf of all my people, the knowledge that I've accumulated has been from them."

Mr Hiha joins his wife Margaret who was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport in 2009.

"Both of us are proud because of what it means to our elders. The people who have gone on before us and for our people today," he said.

Mr Hiha has been involved with the Ahuriri Hapu Treaty claims, having made clear submissions to the Waitangi Tribunal on seven different claims and been committed to attending negotiations.

The Ahuriri Hapu kaumatua will continue his involvement within his various fields in the future but hopes to have some spare time to spend it with his grandchildren.

He has been iwi liaison officer for the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, kaumatua for the Napier City Council and chaired the Napier City Council's Maori consultative committee from 1991 to 1999.

He was appointed to the Hawke's Bay Conservation Board in 1993.

He has been a trustee for Mana Ahuriri Inc since 2009 and a trustee of Te Awahohonu Trust and Tataraakina C Block Trust.


Mr Hiha has been a justice of the peace since 1982 and was a trustee of the Waiapu Diocese Board from 1987 to 2006.

He also received the Napier City Council Civic Award in 2006.