Haere rā Professor Dame Cindy Kiro
24 February 2021
He puhi taioreore, he pukenga rau – the departing Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori is a woman of high accolades and many achievements.
The University of Auckland bids farewell to Professor Dame Cindy Kiro who is leaving her role as the Ihonuku (Pro Vice-Chancellor) Māori to become Chief Executive of Te Apārangi (Royal Society of New Zealand). She will be the first Māori, first Dame and second woman to hold this position.
Dame Cindy describes Te Apārangi as a puna (collective) of experts with in-depth knowledge across various areas. With this team she aims to fulfil the aspirations of the Royal Society’s strategic plan which focuses on areas of climate change, inequities and health.
"Together we have the responsibilty and the ability to make an active contribution to the future benefit of Aotearoa," she says.
She credits her achievements to the broad community that raised her. Her grandparents, Te Rangihaeata Hemi Kiro and Hukatere Miha Maihi, were part of the founding group that set up the Mangere community gardens, National Māori Council and the Māori wardens in Auckland. They would often host leaders in their home which included Professor Ranginui Walker, Dr Patu Hohepa and former Prime Minister David Lange – the latter when he was living in his Mangere electorate.
Together we have the responsibility and the ability to make an active contribution to the future benefit of Aotearoa.
In her youth, Dame Cindy was part of the first Māori language class at Rutherford High School and, as a pupil of Dame June Mariu at school and Dr Pita Sharples as part of Te Rōpu Manutaki, she saw first-hand the power of cultural identity as a positive influence on education.
"Their commitment speaks volumes looking at what they did, and this has had an impact on who I am today," she says.
With a passion to improve the life outcomes for socially marginalised children and youth, Dame Cindy took on many senior roles in government and academia. She was Children’s Commissioner (2003-2009), Head of the School of Public Health at Massey University, Head of School Te Kura Faculty of Education at Victoria University and Director of the University of Auckland Tai Tokerau campus. For ten years she’s also been part of the National Hauora Collective and in 2018-2019 chaired the Welfare Expert Advisory Group.
As the Ihonuku at the University of Auckland she has driven the implementation of the Te Reo Revitalisation Plan, Te Kūaha App and Kuputaka through a five-year plan to increase staff use of te reo. She also developed an Iwi Māori relationships strategy, consulting particularly with iwi across Tāmaki Makaurau and Te Tai Tokerau.
Her involvement in the University’s Strategic Plan 2025 and executive recruitment is her last call of duty before she departs her role. She says the importance of having an effective Māori voice at the strategic leadership table is helping shape the University’s new direction.
"The new Strategic Plan is very ambitious and optimistic. I'd also like to acknowledge the Vice-Chancellor and my fellow colleagues for supporting the implementation of te reo and acknowledging our commitment to Te Tiriti," says Dame Cindy, who starts her new role with Te Apārangi on 1 March.