Tini Whetu Marama Tirikatene-Sullivan

Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu

1932 - 2011

Tini Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan was born at Ratana Pa and was educated at Ratana Pa, various Canterbury primary schools, Rangiora High School and Wellington East Girls’ College. She went on to study at Victoria University and graduated from the School of Social Science in 1960. She continued further studies at the School of Political Science and Public Administration from which she graduated in 1964. During her time at Victoria, she was Vice-President of the Students’ Association (1960-61) and first President of the Federation of Māori University students in 1960. After graduating from university, she worked as a Child Welfare Officer, Social Security Welfare Officer and Māori Welfare Officer. She then studied toward a PhD in Political Science at the Australian National University in Canberra. Her PhD topic was "Contemporary Māori Political Involvement". Following the death of her father, Sir Eruera Tirikatene, in 1967, she became Member of Parliament for Southern Māori, a position she held until 1996. She was Minister of Tourism from 1972-75, Associate Minister of Social Welfare from 1972-74, Minister for Environment 1974-75, and was chair of the Māori Policy Council from 1979-86 She led the New Zealand delegation to International Women’s Year Convention in New Mexico in 1975. Tirikatene-Sullivan wrote a huge number of speeches which have been presented on marae, in parliament and in church settings. Her speeches have been collected together by Ian Mitchell.

Biographical sources

  • Phone call with Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan in August 1998.
  • "New Member of Parliament for Southern Māori." Te Ao Hou 59 (1967): 5.
  • “Labour Māori Candidates.” Tu Tangata 3 (1981): 10.


  • "Freedom to Choose." Mana 1.6 (1977): 8.
  • "Impact of Automation on the Māori New Zealander." New Zealand Science Review 37.4 (1980): 37-44.
  • Papers/Presentations

  • Love, Wi Hapi. "Where The Queen Went She Followed." Te Ao Hou 7 (1954): 11.
  • A brief biography of Whetu Tirakatene and an account of her position as secretary to the Assistant Director of the Royal Tour in 1953.
  • "An Outline Of Population Trends In New Zealand - And Some Related Statistics Concerning The South Island Māori." Report of Proceedings South Island Young Māori Leaders Conference 1960, Christchurch, N.Z. 19-21 August 1960. [Christchurch, N.Z.]: Adult Education Dept., U. of Canterbury, 1960. 1-7.
  • This is a summary of the key points of Tirakatene’s comprehensive address on the changing population trends of the Māori between the 1857 and 1960 censuses. She examines the age structure of the Māori population, discusses the rural-urban distribution, considers the future, and discusses six contributants to the high Māori crime rates. The last part of her address focused on the different statistics of the South Island.
  • "New Member of Parliament for Southern Māori." Te Ao Hou 59 (1967): 5.
  • "South Māori MP Defends Her Boycott." Te Kaunihera Māori: NZ Māori Council Journal Spring (1969): 35-37.
  • Parliamentary speech.
  • "Whetu Tirakatene-Sullivan." Te Māori (1978/79): 38.
  • ‘Labour Māori Candidates." Tu Tangata 3 (Nov./Dec. 1981): 10.
  • Erai, Michelle, Fuli, Everdina, Irwin, Kathie and Wilcox, Lenaire. Māori Women: An Annotated Bibliography. [Wellington, N.Z.]: Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin and Lenaire Wilcox, 1991. 36, 37.