Death of Dr Hone Kaa, senior Anglican priest and child advocate

Press Release – The Kaa Whanau
Surrounded by whanau, Senior Anglican Priest and Child Advocate Dr Hone Kaa died last night in Auckland after a short battle with cancer.

He will lie at the Holy Sepulchre Church on Khyber Pass Rd in Auckland late this afternoon, where he will remain until Sunday morning. A requiem mass will be held at the Holy Sepulchre at 5pm, Saturday evening, 31 March.

On Sunday morning his body will be taken to Hinepare Marae, Rangitukia, East Cape. Dr Kaa will be buried at Okaroro urupa Tuesday morning.

Over 50 years Dr Kaa had an extensive career that included parish ministry, broadcasting, local and international activism, teaching and child advocacy. His contribution to the Church, Maori development, tino rangatiratanga, international social justice issues and the discourse of the rights of Maori children has been profound.

Dr Kaa also pursued a lifelong commitment to indigenous theological, intellectual and academic excellence.

In spite of his deteriorating health, during his last public appearance he attended the High Court trial in support of the ‘Urewera Four’, a display of his on-going commitment to social justice issues.

Dr Hone Kaa
The son of Tipiwhenua and Hohipine Kaa, and one of thirteen siblings, Dr Kaa was born on 9 April 1941 at Rangitukia on the East Cape of the North Island.


Dr Kaa was educated at Rangitukia Primary School, and St Stephen’s School in Bombay. From 1963-1965 he trained as a priest at St John’s Theological College in Auckland. From 1973-1975 he returned to tertiary study to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Maori Studies at the University of Auckland.

Dr Kaa completed a Master of Arts (Hons) in Education in 1999, and from 2000-2003 he completed a D.Min. at the Epsicopal Divinity School at Harvard University in the United States.

Ministry and Activism

Early in his church career Dr Kaa was the Anglican Minister at Taupo and Porangahau (Hawkes Bay), and from 1977 to 1983 he was Minister of the Auckland Anglican Maori Mission. During this period he was a member of the Waitangi Action Committee, and along with fellow members like Hone Harawira and Shane Jones, was a strong advocate of tino rangatiratanga.

Through his work with the World Council of Churches, and the Christian Conference of Asia, Dr Kaa supported the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and indigenous rights movements in other parts of the world.

In 1982 he was appointed a Canon of the Cathedral, and from 1983 to 1987 trained Maori clergy around the country. Dr Kaa was the Chaplain of Queen Victoria School from 1995-97, and from 1997 to 2011 he lectured in pastoral studies at St John’s Theological College.


Dr Kaa was an experienced media veteran working for TVNZ from 1987-1989, and managing Aotearoa Radio from 1989-1992.

Te Puni Kokiri

Dr Kaa worked as a consultant for Te Puni Kokiri from 1992-94.

Maori Child Advocacy

During 2007 Dr Kaa convened the Maori Child Abuse Summit. Maori from around the country gathered at the summit to develop a plan to deal with high rates of Maori child abuse. The Summit gave birth to the Maori child advocacy organisation Ririki which Dr Kaa has chaired for almost five years. As a result of this work Dr Kaa was named third most influential Maori leader by the NZ Listener in 2009.

Press Release – The Maori Party
Hon Tariana Turia and Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Maori Party Co-Leaders

The Venerable Dr Hone Kaa B.A., M.A.(hons), D.Min. (EDS)
Ka tanuku! Ka tanuku!
Ka tanuku koa te tihi ki Hikurangi, ka tanuku!
Ka waipuke! Ka waipuke!
Ko Waiapu te waipuke roimata, puta noa atu ki te wahapu ki Rangitukia, ki Ohinewaiapu!
Ngati Porou! Ngati Rakaipaka! Kua pani koutou!
Kei te tangi hotuhotu te motu ki a koutou ko to koutou rangatira!
Aue! te mamae!

The Māori Party has expressed their heartfelt grief at the passing of Dr Hone Kaa, a ‘living legend of our times’.

“Aotearoa has lost a fierce advocate; a champion for our children; and a veteran activist for the wellbeing of our whānau” said Tariana Turia, co-leader of the Māori Party.

“Dr Kaa has been closely associated with initiatives that sought to protect our tamariki and our whānau” said Mrs Turia. “We remember his significant contribution as chairperson of Te Whare Ruruhau o Meri; his leadership of Every Child Counts, and as Chair of Te Kahui Mana Ririki, an organisation to promote the wellbeing of Māori children”.

“As a man of the cloth, he has been a mentor to many” said Dr Sharples, co-leader of the Maori Party. “Archdeacon Kaa has played a vital role in overseeing the two Auckland pastorates. He was a senior Anglican priest, a kaumātua and a senior lecturer at Te Rau Kahikatea Theological College, St Johns’.

“But his legacy also moved beyond the pulpit to the big screen. Hone worked in Māori Programmes TVNZ, he was Māori Director at Aotearoa Radio, and he was the visionary behind Te Tepu, a cutting edge current affairs programme on Māori Television.

“Hone always encouraged us to live up to the legacy left by those before us” said Dr Sharples. “He championed protest, and his church gave shelter to those seeking justice. His recent series for Māori Television, the Prophets, was typical of his style – recording the leadership of prophets such as TW Ratana, Te Whiti and Rua Kenana while at the same time encouraging us to think deeply about the nature of Māori responses to Christianity”.

“ Our thoughts are with the whānau of Rangitukia – the hapū and iwi of Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Kahungunu – the tamariki, mokopuna, whānau Kaa, and indeed the congregations and collectives that will today be mourning such a distinguished leader of our time” said Mrs Turia.

“We hear that Ngati Porou were gathered together, following the third reading of the Ngati Porou legislation, when they heard the news that he had passed away; no doubt a fitting stage for his ohaaki to the people”.

“The nation has lost a man of great faith; a courageous leader; a far-sighted thinker, and a greatly loved koroua for his people”.

“He had a laugh that could light up a room, he was a beautiful orator and his life was an example of how we could be – he could never let an injustice go unchallenged. His enduring challenge to us all was that we needed to do so much better by our children”.

“No reira e te rangatira, anei matou e tangi nei e mihi nei ki a koe. Haere atu ra, hoki atu ki a ratou ma e whanga mai ana ki a koe. Takoto mai, takoto mai, takoto mai.”