Graham Latimer

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Sir Graham Stanley Latimer KBE (7 February 1926 – 7 June 2016)[1][2] was a New Zealand Māori leader, chosen in the late 1960s to be a new leader to resolve Māori grievances. He was a member of the New Zealand Māori Council from 1964, and president from 1973. In 1987 he initiated a successful appeal against the State-Owned Enterprises Act leading to actions against the Crown relating to land, forests, fisheries and te reo Māori (mortgaging his farm at Taipuha for the expenses). He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1980 Queen's Birthday Honours.[3]

He was born on the Aupouri Peninsula south of Te Kao in Northland, then a depressed area. His mother Lillian was Irish-Scottish and his father Graham of mixed Anglo-Saxon and Māori ancestry. As well as being a Pākehā–Māori marriage, the bride was Catholic and the groom Anglican, so the couple married in the local police station. The family lived at Pamapuria seven kilometres from Kaitaia. He attended three primary schools, and then went to Kaitaia District High School. He left after two weeks, as he was needed to help hand-milk the small family herd of 14 dairy cows on 48 acres. When the herd was sold because of whānau disputes, he worked on other farms. He enlisted in the Army in 1943, and went to Japan in 1946–47 in Jayforce as part of the army of occupation.

In 1948 he married Emily Moore, and worked for the New Zealand Railways until 1961, becoming stationmaster at Kaiwaka in 1952. From 1961 he was a farmer on the Kaipara Harbour; to 1979 at Tinopai and from 1979 to 1995 at Taipuha. In 1995 he returned to Pamapuria.

He was made a spokesman for Ngāti Whātua (though his own hapū is Ngāti Kahu from the Aupouri Peninsula[4]) and a Māori warden in 1956. In 1963 he was elected to the Tai Tokerau District Māori Council in 1963 and one of three members representing te Tai Tokerau on the New Zealand Māori Council 1964. On the New Zealand Māori Council he was vice-president 1969 and president from 1973. In 1977 he was appointed one of the first three members of the Waitangi Tribunal. He was chairman of the Crown Forest Rental Trust from 1990, and a member of the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission between 1993 and 1998. He retrieved tūpuna Māori from an English auction house in 1988, and stopped the public sale of human remains.

He was active in other organisations, the Anglican General Synod, on the board of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, a member of the Alcoholic Liquor Advisory Council and was a director of several commercial enterprises. He was a member of the National Party, and was Māori vice-president from 1981 to 1992. He stood in the Northern Maori electorate in 1969 and 1972, coming second for National both times.


  1. ^ "Sir Graham Latimer dies". Radio NZ. 7 June 2016. 
  2. ^ "'The Northland kauri tree has fallen' - Maori leader Sir Graham Latimer dies aged 90". The Northern Advocate. 7 June 2016. 
  3. ^ "No. 48214". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 1980. p. 39. 
  4. ^ Harrison 2002, p. 41.
  • Harrison, Noel (2002). Graham Latimer: a biography. Wellington: Huia. ISBN 1-877283-68-1.