Wira Gardiner

Gardiner in 2011

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Harawira "Wira" Tiri Gardiner KNZM[1] (born 1945) is a former professional soldier, senior public servant and writer. He is of Māori descent: his tribal affiliations are Ngati Awa, Ngati Pikiao, Whakatohea and Te Whanau-a-Apanui.

Early life and personal

Gardiner was brought up under whāngai, the Māori custom of open adoption.[2] He received his secondary education in Whakatane and his tertiary education at the University of Canterbury (BA) and at King's College London (MA War Studies). Gardiner is married to former politician, Hekia Parata. They have two children together and Gardiner has three other children from a previous marriage to former MP Pauline Gardiner, including the film producer Ainsley Gardiner.[1]

Military career

For twenty years Gardiner served in the New Zealand Army as a professional soldier. He saw active service in South Vietnam. He retired from the army in 1983 at the rank of lieutenant colonel.[1]

Public service

Gardiner's public service career spanned 12 years from 1983-1995. During that time he was founding director of the Waitangi Tribunal, the founding (and only) General Manager of the Iwi Transition Agency and the founding chief executive of the Ministry of Māori Development (Te Puni Kokiri).[1] He has also been National Director of Civil Defence, Chair of Te Mangai Paho, and deputy chairman of Te Ohu Kaimoana, the trust responsible for advancing the interests of iwi in the development of fisheries. He is the fourth ministerial appointee to the Council of Te Wananga o Aotearoa, and is deputy chair of council at Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi.[3]

Gardiner was Chair of the Tertiary Education Commission from May 2010 to July 2012[4] and he was appointed Chair of the Board of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in November 2010.

He was made a Knight of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008 for his services to Maori.[1]


  • Race Relations And The Treaty: A Framework, Annual Peace Lecture, 1989.
  • Te Mura o te Ahi: The Story of the Maori Battalion, Raupo Publishing, 1992.
  • Return to Sender: What Really Happened at the Fiscal Envelope Hui, Raupo, 1996.
  • Haka: A Living Tradition, Hachette, 2001, 2007, 2010.
  • Haka: Unique New Zealand, Hachette, 2007.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Queen's Birthday Honours List 2008". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  2. ^ Keane, Basil (17 December 2014). "Whāngai – customary fostering and adoption - Whāngai in modern times". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  3. ^ Haka a Living Tradition, Wheelers publishers (retrieved 23/10/2010)
  4. ^ Steven Joyce. "New Tertiary Education Commission chair appointed". Media release.
  5. ^ Books by Wira Gardiner, Wheeler Publishing (retrieved 23/10/2010)

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