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Jack Rikihana, ONZM. – Photo courtesy of Doug Pollock, Miramar Golf Club.

Jack Rikihana, who was born and raised in Ōtaki, has been honoured as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to Māori, health governance and the community.

Jack (Ngāti Raukawa, Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangatira) remembers the area on Mill Road known as Rikiville, and although having lived elsewhere most of his adult life, he still calls Ōtaki home.

It is where many of his extended Rikihana whānau still live, and where as a youngster he would explore the creek and play in the native bush near Haruātai Park.

He was a foundation student of the new Ōtaki High School – later Ōtaki College – in 1959. He and Erna Winterburn were head boy and head girl respectively in that year.

Although Jack went on in many localities to forge a prominent role helping youngsters and local Māori communities with public health programmes and other initiatives, his first job was as an apprentice mechanic at Salmon Motors in Ōtaki, later to be Chris Thomsen Motors.

He eventually qualified and moved to Christchurch, then to Bluff where he worked as an engineer on fishing boats and the freezing works. While in Bluff he began his long association with voluntary groups.

A a member of the local Lions club he helped initiate “Careers Week,” which linked college students with employers. It was hugely successful.

Moving to Tauranga and with his children joining Scouts, Jack became a Scout leader. He began a fundraising campaign to allow 130 kids to get to a jamboree and a later tour of the South Island.

He continued his association with surf lifesaving after being a teenage member at Ōtaki. He helped to establish the Papamoa Surf Lifesaving Club.

Jack returned to Ōtaki in 1998 to look after his ailing brother, Micky, who died in 2002. During his time back home he worked as kaitiaki at St Peter Chanel School and was deacon of Rangiātea Church.

His list of achievements grew. He served as chair of the (then) Te Rununga a Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai, and chair of the Aratahi Iwi Advisory to the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

He chaired Kāpiti Coast District Council Māori partnership body, Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti. It is is one of the longest lasting partnerships between tangata whenua and local government in Aotearoa New Zealand.

His official ONZM citation says he has given a voice to iwi aspirations for health as a member, chairperson and deputy chair of the Māori Partnership Board for what was the Hutt Valley and Capital and Coast district health boards between 2003 and 2022.

He played a pivotal role in guiding the DHBs to meet the needs of Māori and partner with mana whenua. He led the creation of the Taurite Ora Māori health strategy and the development of Te Wao Nui, the new integrated children’s health service.

Since 2011, he has served as chair of Hora Te Pai Health Services Charitable Trust, a Māori primary healthcare service in Paraparaumu.

Nowadays, Jack commutes from his home in Miramar, Wellington, to an office at Paraparaumu Coast Airport, where he has been engaged as kaitiaki (caretaker).

Living close to Miramar Golf Club and being a keen golfer, he enjoys regular rounds on the course with partner Marion Elliott, who also has Ōtaki roots through her D’Ath and Elliott lineage.

Jack Rikihana’s home still Ōtaki



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