October 16, 2019
Te reo Māori champion Lee Smith dies
Ngāti Kahungunu has announced the death of language advocate and gay rights champion Lee Smith at the age of 69.
Mr Smith was a leader of the Te Reo Māori Society which in 1972 along with Ngā Tamatoa presented a 30,000 signature petition calling for students to have the right to be taught te reo Māori in their schools.
He also helped start Māori Language Day, which has grown into the annual Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.
He was working as a senior advisor to the Māori Language Commission Te Taura Whiri o Te Reo Māori.
Mr Smith, who was born in Wairoa in 1950 and went to school in Hastings, said it was mad he learned English, French and Russian at high school but had to come to Victoria University in Wellington to learn Māori.
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