Richard Tiki Green was of the old school. Known to many as Uncle Dick, Mr Green was a master carver, a fisherman and a respected Tainui kaumatua. He died this week aged 73 and will be buried with his ancestors on Taupiri Mountain today.
Tainui chairman Tukoroirangi Morgan said Mr Green's death would be a massive loss to the tribe, but his legacy would continue through his carvings and his work for the Waikato River.
"He was the protege of Piri Poutapu, the most famous tohunga whakairo [master carver] produced by this tribe.
"He was sent off by Te Puea to learn from him and Dick Green was his star pupil. He carved many of the new meeting houses, not only in Tainui, but across the country."
Mr Morgan said some of Mr Green's key works were the carvings at Marokopa in the Waitomo region and at Te Kauri marae in Huntly.
Mr Green was also part of the team that carved the Tainui waka, Tahere Tikitiki II. He also helped restore Te Winika and gave his only daughter the same name.
Originally from Maniapoto, Mr Green met his wife, Billie, on a trip to Huntly in 1958. The couple had six children: a daughter and five sons.
Mr Green would often take young people from Huntly to the Waikato River, where he would teach them karakia (prayers) and the old ways.
He also established Kanae Kakariki as a hands-on training programme for working-age Maori in Huntly and Ngaruawahia. The programme covered the basic skills required for entry-level admission to fishing or conservation programmes.
Raised on the Waikato River by his elders, Mr Green had a deep affinity with the river and strongly believed that everyone had a role to play as kaitiaki (guardians). It was something he instilled in those on the Kanae Kakariki programme.
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia paid tribute to Mr Green and said his legacy would live on.
"He was a man who was passionate about his awa [river] and rangatahi [young people]; a man who devoted his life to the preservation of Tainui tikanga [protocols] and kawa [rules], through the art of carving and the establishment of Kanae Kakariki. He was a man with a generous spirit and a generous heart, and I will miss him dearly, as I know his whanau, hapu and iwi will too."
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