Patrick Wikiriwhi Thompson was of Ngati Paoa/Ngati Whanaunga descent. Patrick was born into a traditional Māori family and boarded at Kelston School for the Deaf in the 1970s. Patrick was instrumental in organising the first National Hui for Māori Deaf in 1993. Throughout his career, Patrick acted as an advisor to many groups in the Māori and Deaf communities. Patrick was trilingual, and could communicate in NZSL, English and te reo Māori. He was a strong advocate for training and supporting more trilingual interpreters, and for empowering Māori Deaf people to have greater access to both mainstream society and Māori tikanga, and worked with a range of organisations to advance this goal. Patrick was awarded the Queens Service Medal (QSM) in 2013 for his services to Māori, and the Deaf community.

  • Life Stories/People
  • Turi Māori

Supporting Maori Deaf Youth

Patrick and his kids in 2013: Tuhoi Henry, Eric Matthews, Dan Te Rupe, Ngawaiata Hau, RJ Edwards and Kahurangi Mackey

Patrick moved away from the Deaf world after he left school and it was not until the 1991 Deaf View Conference, where Patrick was involved in a Maori Deaf kapa haka group that was practising for the conference powhiri, that Patrick returned to the community in earnest. Patrick’s understanding of Deaf culture grew and as a result he returned to Kelston School for the Deaf and worked as a Residential Social Worker. He maintained an important connection to the school throughout his life.

He saw many Deaf children who did not know about their Maori identity or whakapapa. Patrick believed that Maori Deaf would be able to access more Maori culture if their families learnt how to sign.

Patrick became an Educational Associate at Kelston Boys High School, supporting students and he became a valuable source of support for Maori Deaf youth.

1st National Hui of 1993 – Orakei

Patrick Thompson

In 1993, Patrick was one of the main organisers of the first National Hui for Maori Deaf at Orakei Marae. For two years leading up to the Hui, Patrick visited New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Wellington and Christchurch to encourage Maori Deaf to attend.

The Hui helped many Maori Deaf to participate fully in what was happening on the Marae for the first time, and to realise important issues.

Patrick then acted as an advisor for the Maori Deaf Advisory Committee and co-ordinated two further National Huis in 1995 in the North and South Islands. Patrick’s leadership at the Huis saw the circumstances of Maori Deaf in New Zealand improve and more Maori Deaf accessed their tikanga.

Developing the community

Patrick is being presented his tohu by the Governor General Jerry Mateparae. Tania Simon is also in the photo as Patrick’s interpreter and close friend.

Patrick with his sisters on the day of the medal ceremony. Hannah Naue Thompson, Patrick Wikiriwhi Thompson, Bernice Rangimarie Thompson, Margaret Ann Wood

In 1993, Patrick set up marae-based NZSL classes as a step towards encouraging Maori speakers to enrol for interpreter training. Patrick became the Maori Deaf Development Manager at the Deaf Association of New Zealand in 1999.

Patrick also represented the Deaf and Kelston Deaf Education Centre in an advisory capacity to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development. He was a valued member of Te Roopu Turi o Kerehana, Mana Tangata Turi and the newly formed Te Kahui Turi o Kerehana.

Because Patrick went back to his marae often he was connected to his whanau, hapu and iwi. This meant Patrick had a very good understanding of why it was important for both Deaf and hearing people to connect to the community and to find out who they were on the marae. Patrick always said he was also affliliated to Ngati Turi, or tribe/iwi of the Deaf and this was at the heart of his important work with the community.

Due to a sudden illness, Patrick passed away on 29 March 2014 and is at rest at Wharekawa Kaiaua.

Patrick was he rangatira, a leader of Maori and of Maori Deaf and will be sadly missed by us all.

Apiti hono tatae hono te hunga o ra ki te hunga ora tena koutou katoa.