Dr Manuka Henare is being remembered for his scholarship, leadership, mana, wisdom, advocacy and his commitment to social justice.
Dr Henare, 78, died on January 23, after a period of illness. Cardinal John Dew said on Facebook that he joined many others in mourning the loss of Dr Henare, who was the founding director of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand in 1992.
Before this, he was the executive officer of the Catholic Commission for Justice, Peace and Development (and was head of its predecessor, the EJD commission) in the 1980s.
After his time as director, he continued to serve on the Caritas board until 2005.
“Manuka brought great understanding of the links between poverty and injustice, in developing countries overseas and in this country, in his work for Caritas,” Cardinal Dew said.
“He was always committed to dialogue and to searching for the truth, telling new Caritas staff ‘always look for the truth in your opponent’s argument and the flaw in your own argument’, a message we can all take to heart.”
The current director of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, Julianne Hickey, said the passing of Dr Henare is cause for mourning, but Caritas is “grateful for the legacy he has left us to uphold and protect”.
She said Dr Henare was instrumental in shaping the identity and purpose of the organisation.
“This was as an agency grounded in this land, concerned about issues of poverty and injustice at home as well as abroad, and drawing the links between them,” Mrs Hickey said.
“As a man of great mana, his words and wisdom continue to resonate with, and influence, our work today.
“When we sought him out in 2019 for a reflection on 50 years of Catholic justice, peace and development structures, Manuka reminded us of our responsibility to read ‘the Signs of the Times’ in responding to social issues. This was a phrase from the Second Vatican Council, which he continued to apply to his then-role as an academic.”
A statement from Caritas noted that, in the 1970s and 1980s, Dr Henare was one of several Māori Catholic leaders who helped the Church deepen its understanding, responsibility and commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi). While director of Caritas, he wrote his PhD thesis on Māori understandings of He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (1835 Declaration of Independence), and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. He contributed to the writing of two statements by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference on Te Tiriti, as well as numerous statements and submissions on issues such as employment law and international development aid.
Born in Auckland, the young Manuka Henare attended Sacred Heart College (later St Paul’s College) in Ponsonby, and later took up a cadetship for Winstones, after which he worked full-time at Auckland diocese as an organiser for the Catholic Youth Movement, under then-Fr Reginald Delargey.
After this, he spent seven years working with CORSO, before taking up leadership roles in Catholic organisations. According to a Radio Waatea report, while he was studying part-time, he was also teaching courses in Māori business and development at the University of Auckland Business School and, with others, started the Dame Mira Szaszy Research Centre.
An article on the University of Auckland website stated that, in 1996, he had become the first lecturer in Māori business development to be appointed to the University of Auckland Business School. He went on to become associate professor.
Geremy Hema, Kaiarahi for the Faculty of Law at the University of Auckland, said in the article that, “The late Pa Henare Tate described Manuka as the most eminent Māori Catholic scholar of our time”.
Dr Henare, whose hapu was Ngati Haua, was part of the delegation which went to Rome in the 1980s to meet with the Pope to request the ordination of a Māori bishop, the article stated.
Dr Henare’s body lay at Te Unga Waka marae in Auckland, and a funeral Mass was later celebrated at Te Kotahitanga Marae in Whangape in the far North on January 27.
Dr Henare’s mortal remains were interred at Matanginui Urupa in the North. He is survived by his wife Diane and five children.