Inspired by the first Māori doctors, Sir Mason Durie has dedicated a lifetime to making a difference in the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. His commitment and leadership have been recognised with the 2017 Blake Medal.
One of the country’s most respected academics, Sir Mason was awarded the premium award for leadership achievement in New Zealand, at a ceremony in Wellington on Friday night.
Over a career spanning almost half a century, Sir Mason has been an outstanding contributor to public, indigenous, and mental health, and a champion of higher education for Māori.
Raised in Feilding, where he still lives today, Sir Mason was a student at Te Aute College in the Hawke’s Bay, where he was inspired by two former pupils of the school – Sir Peter Buck and Sir Maui Pomare – the first Māori to train as doctors. He left Te Aute convinced medicine was his future career.
He is best known for creating the Te Whare Tapa Wha health model, challenging the notion that health is the same for all cultures; for playing a significant leadership role in Waka Hourua, the national programme for preventing suicide in Māori and Pasifika communities; and for establishing Te Pūtahi-a-Toi, the School of Māori Studies at Massey University.
Shelley Campbell, CEO of the Sir Peter Blake Trust says: “Sir Mason is one of this country’s exceptional academics and a true leader of both people and ideas. All New Zealanders have benefited from his dedication to improving the health and wellbeing of our communities, but especially Māori.”
The six Blake Leaders also announced by the Sir Peter Blake Trust have “already proven their leadership and ability to create positive change across their industries and communities”, Campbell says.
The celebrated leaders are lawyer, director and Waikato-Tainui iwi leader Rukumoana Schaafhausen; Foodstuffs director and NZ Breakers owner Paul Blackwell; youth development leader, motivational speaker and amputee William Pike; Royal New Zealand Navy leader and diversity advocate LTCR Kerry Tutty; tribal historian and hapu leader Dr Te Maire Tau; and National Library director, environmentalist and multisport athlete Aaron Fleming.
Blake Leader awards are presented to inspirational mid-career leaders who have shown determination, the will to succeed and a belief in achieving extraordinary things, in the mold of the late Sir Peter Blake.
The Governor-General, The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, presented the Blake Medal and Blake Leader Awards at Government House, where Pippa Lady Blake and her daughter Sarah-Jane represented the Blake family.