Padre Wiremu Gray achieves second award in long career

Pleased that ‘community has been recognised’.

Pleased that ‘community has been recognised’.

Padre Wiremu Gray MNZM

WHEN he heard about his latest honour, Padre Wiremu Gray said he first wanted to find the biggest tree to hide behind.

Mr Gray is one of three people from this region honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

He has been named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for service to Maori and the community.

It was his son, Wiremu, who said to him, “Dad, let the people reach out to you, let them embrace you, all they want to say to you is, ‘Padre, thank you for everything’.”

Padre, a military term for clergyman, is what Mr Gray prefers to be called.

“It’s soft, it’s informal and you can walk among your people and feel part of them.”

Other people are his driving force.

“It has to be about people, with people, for people, by people. When you talk about the most important thing in life — it's people.

“So today I am pleased that a community has been recognised.”

Padre’s MNZM services to Maori and the community include a long list of achievements that are, but not limited to, being chairman of Te Rawheoro Marae since 2000 and sitting on the Te Aitangi-a-Hauiti iwi forum of six local marae.

He is also a trustee for Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Tolaga Bay Area School and Kahukuranui.

It was a bit of a double-banger for Padre, as he also just found out in a letter from the Bishop of Tairawhiti that he is going to be made an archdeacon.

This is also his second time in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Thirty years ago in 1987 he was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for community service.

Long and distinguished list of community works

Padre’s list of work with the community is long and distinguished. It started during his almost 25-year career in the military, which is where the term Padre was bestowed on him and where he reached the rank of captain.

“You learn in the army that you put your people first. If there’s anything left over, it’s yours.

“When things happen, it’s about making sure your troops are looked after first.”

Today Padre’s troops are the communities of Tolaga Bay and Te Tairawhiti.

“In this community we always talk about a dual culture and a shared future to bring about a dual heritage, and they’re all part of this prestigious award.

“With humility I accept this honour on behalf of all my people in Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti and Te Tairawhiti."

He acknowledges the great work of those who have passed before him — the pioneers, visionaries and intellectuals.

“There are so many people I want to thank, some who have gone but all who have been part of this journey. It’s never been mine alone.

“I guess it’s a recognition of one's ability and effort to transform a community and people.”

People have always been his strength, his rock and source of information, but the pillars of his life are his wife and son.

“When I go out and serve a community, they are at home keeping the home fires burning. Without my son Wiremu and my wife Molly, the struggles would have been difficult.

“You have people on the outside who help you, and on the inside you have those who love you and care for you.

“They provide a cushion for you so that when you face those demands and challenges out in the world, they soften the blow.

“They are the pillars of my life. I am lucky because sometimes when I need to talk to someone, at least I can.

“But you know what, I just acknowledge all those recipients who have been included in the Queen’s Birthday honours and those people who are responsible for making this award happen.

“Thanks to a great community, thanks to a great people who we have been awarded and have been recognised by the Queen.”

Padre has also co-ordinated successful marae/whanau-based sports teams to compete at the regional level. He has been involved in organising an adult education programme for the past 20 years.

He leads the Uawa community’s Anzac committee and has been involved in developing Anzac commemorations over the past five years to include a focus on a duty to whanau and community wellbeing.

In his formal role as padre, he has organised hundreds of church services and has led significant services such as the funeral for the Honourable Parekura Horomia, Anzac commemoration services with foreign dignitaries in attendance, and the opening of the new Tolaga Bay police station.

He is involved with restorative justice with the Ministry of Justice and regularly organises duties for young offenders to help them rehabilitate.

Padre Gray was a cultural advisor for the development of the National Marae of the New Zealand Army, which opened in 1996.

WHEN he heard about his latest honour, Padre Wiremu Gray said he first wanted to find the biggest tree to hide behind.

Mr Gray is one of three people from this region honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

He has been named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for service to Maori and the community.

It was his son, Wiremu, who said to him, “Dad, let the people reach out to you, let them embrace you, all they want to say to you is, ‘Padre, thank you for everything’.”

Padre, a military term for clergyman, is what Mr Gray prefers to be called.

“It’s soft, it’s informal and you can walk among your people and feel part of them.”

Other people are his driving force.

“It has to be about people, with people, for people, by people. When you talk about the most important thing in life — it's people.

“So today I am pleased that a community has been recognised.”

Padre’s MNZM services to Maori and the community include a long list of achievements that are, but not limited to, being chairman of Te Rawheoro Marae since 2000 and sitting on the Te Aitangi-a-Hauiti iwi forum of six local marae.

He is also a trustee for Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Tolaga Bay Area School and Kahukuranui.

It was a bit of a double-banger for Padre, as he also just found out in a letter from the Bishop of Tairawhiti that he is going to be made an archdeacon.

This is also his second time in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Thirty years ago in 1987 he was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for community service.

Long and distinguished list of community works

Padre’s list of work with the community is long and distinguished. It started during his almost 25-year career in the military, which is where the term Padre was bestowed on him and where he reached the rank of captain.

“You learn in the army that you put your people first. If there’s anything left over, it’s yours.

“When things happen, it’s about making sure your troops are looked after first.”

Today Padre’s troops are the communities of Tolaga Bay and Te Tairawhiti.

“In this community we always talk about a dual culture and a shared future to bring about a dual heritage, and they’re all part of this prestigious award.

“With humility I accept this honour on behalf of all my people in Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti and Te Tairawhiti."

He acknowledges the great work of those who have passed before him — the pioneers, visionaries and intellectuals.

“There are so many people I want to thank, some who have gone but all who have been part of this journey. It’s never been mine alone.

“I guess it’s a recognition of one's ability and effort to transform a community and people.”

People have always been his strength, his rock and source of information, but the pillars of his life are his wife and son.

“When I go out and serve a community, they are at home keeping the home fires burning. Without my son Wiremu and my wife Molly, the struggles would have been difficult.

“You have people on the outside who help you, and on the inside you have those who love you and care for you.

“They provide a cushion for you so that when you face those demands and challenges out in the world, they soften the blow.

“They are the pillars of my life. I am lucky because sometimes when I need to talk to someone, at least I can.

“But you know what, I just acknowledge all those recipients who have been included in the Queen’s Birthday honours and those people who are responsible for making this award happen.

“Thanks to a great community, thanks to a great people who we have been awarded and have been recognised by the Queen.”

Padre has also co-ordinated successful marae/whanau-based sports teams to compete at the regional level. He has been involved in organising an adult education programme for the past 20 years.

He leads the Uawa community’s Anzac committee and has been involved in developing Anzac commemorations over the past five years to include a focus on a duty to whanau and community wellbeing.

In his formal role as padre, he has organised hundreds of church services and has led significant services such as the funeral for the Honourable Parekura Horomia, Anzac commemoration services with foreign dignitaries in attendance, and the opening of the new Tolaga Bay police station.

He is involved with restorative justice with the Ministry of Justice and regularly organises duties for young offenders to help them rehabilitate.

Padre Gray was a cultural advisor for the development of the National Marae of the New Zealand Army, which opened in 1996.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Pani McLean - 1 year ago
Congratulations to Padre. He is an outstanding person and his son was right to let the people reach out and celebrate him. Many people have been uplifted by his manner and words. May God Bless you too.

Steve Brown - 1 year ago
May God continue to bless you Bill. You have always been a man overflowing with love for others.

James Solomon - 1 year ago
Beautiful to see and know you are great and well. You have always been an honourable man, Willie. Big love from me to you and your family. James Solomon.

Randal Haimona - 1 year ago
Congratulations cuz, too much.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you support the school children who have been striking for action on climate change?