Harawira Tiri Gardiner

Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pikiao, Te Whānau a Apanui, Te Whakatōhea

1943 - 2022

Harawira Gardiner was born in Whakatane and educated at Rotoiti and Otakiri Primary Schools and Whakatane High School. He took up a cadetship in accountancy at the Kawerau Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill and in the following year attended the Royal Military College in Duntroon, Australia. He graduated with a B.A. in History from Massey University and Canterbury University, and an M.A. in history and war studies from Kings’ College, London. He was a Vietnam veteran and worked with the New Zealand Army from 1966-1983, retiring in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was a National Director of Civil Defence, a former Waitangi Tribunal Director and former Chief Executive of Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Māori Development. He worked as a consultant to the Minister and Department of Māori Affairs for the Mana and Māori ACCESS programmes. In 2009 Gardiner was appointed a Knight of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Māori. In May 2010 Gardiner was appointed chair of the Tertiary Education Commission. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Māori Development in 2012 and he also received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Waikato in 2021. He wrote seven non-fiction publications and spent time writing on Māori Leadership.

Biographical sources

  • Correspondence from Wira Gardiner, 2 June 1993, 15 July 1998 and 17 June 2004.
  • "Farewell Aotearoa." The Press 23 Nov. 1992: 11.
  • Partnership and Peace: Essays on Biculturalism in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Edited by New Zealand Foundation for Peace Studies. Auckland, N.Z.: The New Zealand Foundation for Peace Studies Inc., 1990. 43.
  • Māori Sovereignty: The Māori Perspective. Auckland, N.Z.: Hodder Moa Beckett, 1995. 79-89.


  • Te Mura O Te Ahi: The Story of the Māori Battalion. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1992. Rpt. 1992. An abridged chapter was rpt. as "Farewell Aotearoa." The Press 23 Nov. 1992: 11.
  • In this history of the Māori Battalion, Gardiner discusses the Māori military heritage in pre-European times and the 1st Māori Contingent during the First World War. He describes the recruitment and training programmes of the 28 (Māori) Battalion at Trentham and Palmerston North, the division into four companies, and the departure of the Battalion on the HT Aquitania on 2 May 1940. Gardiner gives a detailed account of the Battalion’s service in Greece, Crete, Egypt and North Africa, Syria, Minqar Qaim, Munassib, El Alamein to Tripoli, Medenine and Tebaga Gap, Takrouna, Italy, and Monte Cassino, and the Battalion’s return to New Zealand beginning on 6 December 1945.
  • "Wira Gardiner - Chief Executive or te Puni Kokiri (Ministry of Māori Development)." Māori Sovereignty: The Māori Perspective. Hineani Melbourne. Auckland, N.Z.: Hodder Moa Beckett, 1995. 79-89.
  • Gardiner discusses his views on sovereignty and the Treaty of Waitangi, affirms the importance of tribalism and speaks of kaitiaki issues, republicanism, and notes the three areas that concern Māori: dispossession, disadvantage and sovereignty.
  • Return to Sender: What Really Happened at the Fiscal Envelope Hui. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed Consumer Books, 1996.
  • Gardiner discusses the Māori protest to the Crown Proposals for the Settlement of Treaty of Waitangi Claims, known as the fiscal envelope or kopaki putea. He argues that Māori rejection of the proposals symbolised deeper rooted discontent with the Crown, was a forum for wider changes, and demonstrated the changing nature of Māori society and the clash between Māori public service and iwi. Gardiner provides a detailed eye-witness account of the thirteen fiscal envelope hui held in the early months of 1995, noting the role of politicians, protest leaders, kaumatua, the media and the civil servants.
  • Haka – A Living Tradition. Auckland, N.Z.: Hodder Moa Beckett, 2001.
  • Papers/Presentations

  • Race Relations & The Treaty: A Framework for Resolution. Annual Peace Lecture 1989. 6th September 1989: 14th Annual Peace Lecture - 1989. Auckland, N.Z.: The New Zealand Foundation for Peace Studies Incorporated, 1989. Rpt. in Partnership and Peace: Essays on Biculturalism in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Ed. New Zealand Foundation for Peace Studies. Auckland, N.Z.: The New Zealand Foundation for Peace Studies Inc., 1990. 43.
  • Gardiner discusses his views of the Treaty of Waitangi and gives a background to the development of the Waitangi Tribunal, its scope and its membership. He writes that it is "a positive mechanism of change. It provides a vent for releasing pent up frustrations which many tribes have experienced over the past 140 years." Gardiner comments on the fear by some members of the public of innumerable claims being presented to the Tribunal and of huge settlement costs, and considers the alternatives to the Treaty and Tribunal.


  • "Long Journey From High-School Dropout to Top Māori Leader." 3 June 2008. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10513951. 19 Aug. 2010.
  • Roughan, John. "A Word With…Wira Gardiner." 20 Nov. 2008. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/maori/news/article.cfm?c_id=252&objectid=10543955 19 Aug. 2010.
  • Reviews

    Return to Sender
  • Douglas, Te Kohu. He Pukenga Kōrero: A Journal of Māori Studies 2.1 (1996): 73-77.
  • Fogarty, Chris. "Wira Ensures We Get the Message." Sunday Star Times 14 Jan 1996: C3.
  • Phare, Jane. "Behind Enemy Lines." New Zealand Herald 7 Feb 1996. No further details.
  • "Tackling Those Fiscal Envelope Issues." Kiwa Hiwa Ra: National Māori Newspaper 40 (1996): 5.
  • Te Mura O Te Ahi: The Story of the Måori Battalion.
  • Tini, Moko. "CEO Writes Full Account of 28th Māori Battalion." Kia Hiwa Ra 10 (1993): 14.