Andrew Robb, te reo Māori advocate and journalist, dies

Source: Te Karere

Andrew Robb, a man who made significant contributions to the revitalisation of te reo Maori in Aotearoa, has died.

Te reo advocate, Māori ally and journalist Andrew (Anaru) Robb has died

Andrew Robb, of Pākehā descent, was a journalist and member of Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo. Affectionately known as Anaru, he began his te reo Māori journey at Wellington’s Victoria University in 1974.

His involvement in both the Te Reo Māori Society and Nga Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo saw him contribute significantly to the Wai 11 Te Reo claim, working with the late rangatira Te Huirangi Waikerepuru. Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo is the group that took the claim to the Waitangi Tribunal.

That claim was the catalyst to the creation of The Māori Language Act which now recognises te reo Māori as an official language of Aotearoa and saw the establishment of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, the Māori Language Commission.

Wai 11 also had a profound impact on the broadcasting landscape which would eventually lead to the recognition that broadcasting policy needs to recognise and protect te reo Māori.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori/ the Māori Language Commission paid tribute to the Māori language champion on Wednesday.

Ngahiwi Apanui, chief executive and friend of Robb's described him as a humble Pākehā man, tireless advocate, and a fluent speaker of te reo who never weaponised the language.

"He was an ally and a very dear friend who is sadly missed," said Apanui.

"He was a paradox in that on the one hand you had a fierce advocate and ally for te reo, on the other hand you had a softly spoken, humble and gentle Pākehā man.

“Anaru leaves a legacy of passionate, perpetual protest: he never stopped advocating for justice and tino rangatiratanga. Whether he was explaining to other Pākehā the need to understand language trauma experienced by Māori people or whether he was demanding answers from politicians side-stepping his tough questioning."

Robb was also a journalist, who worked for Mana News and Te Kāea in Wellington. He was involved in Te Upoko o te Ika - Wellington's iwi radio station - and worked in Parliament as an adviser to the Māori Party.

Most recently he was a prolific writer for E-Tangata, often writing about what allyship looks like and how Pākehā can be better allies to Māori.

He is survived by his three children Te Kawa, Moana and Mahuru.