I whānau mai a Tīmoti Sam Kāretu i te tau 1937. He mea whāngai ia e Mauwhare rāua ko Tame hei tamaiti mā rāua. Ko Waikaremoana te kāinga i tipu ake ai a Tīmoti, ā taitama rawa ake, kātahi ia ka kuraina ki te Kāreti o Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara i te tau 1952 ki te tau 1956. Nō konei, ka rongo ia i tōna ngākaunui ki te ako i te reo Pākehā, tae atu anō hoki ki te reo Wīwī me te reo Tiamana.
I te tau 1959, ka whakawhiwhia ki a Tīmoti te Tohu Paetahi e Te Whare Wānanga o Wikitōria, ā, ka pau te rua tau ōna e whakaako ana ki Te Kura Tuarua o Taumarunui, ka whakawhiti a Tīmoti ki Ingarangi, ki te Kōmihana Teitei o Aotearoa. Nōna i reira, ka whakatūria te kapa haka o Ngāti Rānana kua eke tonu nei ki tōna ono tekau tau.
1972 te tau ka tū ia hei Ahorangi tuatahi mō te Tari Māori o Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato. I taua wā, ka eke tana kapa haka, a Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, ki ngā taumata toa i ngā whakataetae ā-rohe, ā-motu anō hoki. I whakaputaina hoki tana pukapuka, a Te Reo Rangatira, e whakamahia tonutia ana e ngā kaiako huri i te motu.
Nāwai, ka karangatia ia hei Toihau, hei Tiamana tuatahi mō Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori. Ko ētahi o ā rātou mahi, ko te whakatū i ngā Kura Reo, ko te waihanga kupu hou, ko te tapa ingoa Māori mō ngā tari kāwanatanga, ko te whakaputa i tā rātou nūpepa, i a He Muka, ko te kōkiri hoki kia tū Te Tau o te Reo Māori i te tau 1995.
I taua wā anō, ka noho a Tīmoti hei Tiamana mō ngā whakataetae kapa haka ā-motu e kīia nei ināianei, ko Te Matatini, ā, ka puta tana pukapuka, a Haka – he tohu whenua rangatira e whakaahua ana i ngā momo haka a te Māori.
Mai i te tau 1999 ki te tau 2019, ka noho a Tīmoti hei mema, hei Tiamana hoki mō te poari o Te Kōhanga Reo. I te tau 2003, i raro i te maru o Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, ko Tīmoti te kaitārai i te waka o Te Panekiretanga o te Reo, ko ōna hoa hautū ko Tākuta Wharehuia Milroy rāua ko Ahorangi Pou Temara. E rua ōna tohu kairangi hōnore nā Te Whare Wānanga o Wikitōria me Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato i tuku.
E hia kē nei ngā pukapuka i whai wāhi atu ai ia hei kaituhi rānei, hei kanohi hōmiromiro rānei, hei kaupapa tonu rānei. Kua roa ia e tonoa ana e ngā iwi o Aotearoa, o te ao whānui hoki ki te kauhau i ōna tohungatanga i te reo.
He maha ngā waiata me ngā haka kua titoa e ia mā ngā kapa toa o Te Matatini, ka mutu, nō te tau 2019, ka riro nāna i whakamāori ngā waiata rongonui o Aotearoa i ēnei wā.
He mea whakawhiwhi a Tīmoti ki ngā tohu huhua mō āna mahi whakarewa i te kairangi o te reo, tae atu ki te tohua ōna hei Tā i te tau 2017.
Ko tētahi o ōna tino māngari ko tana noho i te taha o ngā kaumātua tino mātau ki te reo me ngā tikanga Māori, tae atu ki te haka, pēnei i a Te Rangihau, i a Ngoingoi Pēwhairangi, i a Hamuera Mitchell, i a Mīria Simpson, i a Matutaera Ihaka, i a Mate Kaiwai, me te momo i a rātou.
Dr Sir Tīmoti Kāretu QSO, KNZM (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu)has been a key driving force for literature in te reo Māori as well as Māori language education for more than sixty years.
He founded the Department of Māori Studies at the University of Waikato and served as the chair and professor until 1992. He was appointed the first commissioner of the Māori Language Commission in 1987 and served in that role until 1999. He has been the chairman of the Performing Arts Festival (now known as Te Matatini), Te Māngai Pāho and Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust. Victoria University of Wellington awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2003, as did the University of Waikato in 2008.
His writing and teaching have driven the renaissance of the written and oral language, with his work leading Te Panekiretanga o te Reo (The Institute of Excellence in the Māori Language) enabling the development of a new cohort of te reo Māori writers and translators who are now producing books in te reo Māori for children and adults.
Sir Tīmoti’s own books are classics in the field. They include Te Reo Rangatira: A Course in Māori for sixth and seventh forms, first published in 1974 and still in print; Haka: Te Tohu o te Whenua Rangatira (Reed, 1993), and the collaboration in te reo Māori with Wharehuia Milroy, He Kupu Tuku Iho: Ko te Reo Māori te Tatau ki te Ao (AUP, 2018), winner of the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, Te Mūrau o te Tuhi – the Māori Language Award. He is also the translator of Witi Ihimaera’s Whale Rider/Te Kaieke Tohorā as well as many other works and editor of the Reed Concise Māori Dictionary, the Reed Book of Māori Proverbs and other titles.
Aside from his literary works, Sir Tīmoti is a prolific composer of Māori waiata and haka, having spent more than sixty years involved in all aspects of Māori performing arts, as a tutor, leader, performer, composer, judge, advisor and lifetime member of Te Matatini, the pinnacle of national kapa haka competition.
Photo credit: Rawhitiroa Photography