POROPOROAKI: Rob Cooper (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi)

Kua hinga he tōtara i te wao-nui-ā-Tāne.

The Māori Party today grieves the passing of a much loved mentor, a superb advocate, a masterful activist and a lifelong champion of kaupapa Māori, Rob Cooper.

“Rob was one of those distinguished ambassadors of hope that we all look towhen the going gets tough,” says Māori Party co-leader, Marama Fox. 

“He appeared to be a mastermind of all things Māori. He had an impressive reputation in health, having pioneered the design and delivery of the Māori health provider sector since the days of the Health Funding Authority. For many years, he chaired the Māori reference group for Housing New Zealand and oversaw the development of social housing in Moerewa. And it was just a few years ago in 2012, that he oversaw an internationally acclaimed Early Childhood Education Centre in Kawakawa. Nothing was impossible for Rob.

“We remember him particularly for his unique contribution at the onset of Whānau Ora when he was selected for the Whānau Ora Taskforce in 2009 and then later appointed as the Inaugural Chair of the Whanau Ora Governance Group in 2010,” says Māori Party Co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell. 

“His expertise and scholarly advice at the governance level saw him hold a significant presence in many fora, including the Waitematā DHB, the Auckland DHB, as Chairperson of that Board’s Māori Health Committee, and as Chief Executive and Emeritus Executive of the Ngāti Hine Health Trust. 

“He had a special place in the hearts of the National Council of Māori Nurses, and was instrumental in establishing the Whakapiki Ake student recruitment programme at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Māori and Pacific Health at the University of Auckland.

“Rob’s intellectual strength of character was evident in every hui in which he attended. He formed part of a taskforce, along with George Kuru and Mānuka Henare, who organised hui with Māori Catholic organisations, producing two reports, Whakamārama One and Whakamārama Two. These reports highlighted a distinctive Catholic view of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on the writings of the first Catholic bishop of New Zealand, Jean-BaptistePompallier (1836-58). 

“In this, and in so many other ways, Rob Cooper, CNZM, made an illustrious impact on our nation-building project. Our heartfelt sympathies are extended to the whānau pani, and to his beloved Ngāti Hine and Ngāpuhi kin. Moe mai rā e te Rangatira.”