Peter Harwood's love for the people

04 Apr, 2023
Peter Harwoods love for the people
The Late Emeritus Professor Peter Harwood.

Kua hinga te tōtara o Te Waonui a Tāne.

There are few that could match late Emeritus Professor Peter Harwood in stature and mana, says Professor Hinematau McNeill.

“Although Pita is known best for his academic acumen, it is his love for the people that I admired most about him - especially the marginalised. He didn’t suffer fools and that I found equally endearing.”

Emeritus Professor Harwood died on March 17, aged 83. He joined AUT in 1992, then known as the Auckland Institute of Technology, as the Dean of Arts.

Over the next decade he helped transition AIT into a university, and had a focus on Māori, Pacific Island and international students through support, exchange programmes and scholarships – including the Peter Harwood Scholarship.

He was also involved in the establishment of its first annual pōwhiri and noho marae events for international students, as well as the move to offer free te reo elective papers across all programmes.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Damon Salesa says Emeritus Professor Harwood was passionate, larger than life, and determined.

“Peter made many contributions towards education, community, Māori, sport, and scholarship. His contributions and leadership, particularly in the development of new degrees and postgraduate programmes, served as an important step in the journey of our learning institution and in the whakapapa of our university today,” Professor Salesa says.

“He will be sorely missed by all.”

Pro-Vice Chancellor Māori Pare Keiha says Emeritus Professor Harwood had a strong commitment to Te Ara Poutama, students and their communities.

“I have described him as a giant of a man with an affection for red wine, hard work and an indefatigable passion for the success of Māori,” Professor Keiha says.

“His wife Haupuru was always by his side, quietly and gently trying to temper his irritation with anything bureaucratic. He was never short of his criticism of rules if they got in the way of the success of our students.”

Professor McNeill says that as her PhD supervisor Emeritus Professor Harwood provided her with a model that informed her teaching.

“His leadership style shaped my own practice, as uncompromising but mostly caring.

“Of the many gifts that he left to AUT, I think recognition of his role in making us the first-choice university for Māori would be the most prized for him.

“Nā reira kāore e mimitia te aroha mōu e te rangatira moe mai rā moe mai rā i to moenga roa.”

Among Emeritus Professor Peter Harwood’s contributions to society were the establishment of New Zealand’s first Citizens Advice Bureau in 1970, the renovation of the family mārae at Tautoro (Kaikohe) and work on numerous Māori development projects that led to him being awarded an MNZM for services to the community and Māori in 2008.

His involvement with the Ponsonby Rugby Club saw the implementation of its scholarship programme in partnership with AUT.

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