Dr Joseph (Joe) Te Rito Joe is currently Deputy-Director/Kaihautū Mātauranga Māori with with AKO AOTEAROA, the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence. He was previously Kaihautū Tikanga; Senior Research Fellow – Tikanga and Reo at Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM) until December 2015, where he provided advice and guidance in Tikanga Māori, Te Reo Māori and community/Iwi relationships, as well as conducting research relevant to the NPM Research Plan. Joe was also an assessor and senior advisor for NPM's Grants and Awards programme.
Joe’s research examines a range of oral recordings in the Māori language of his elders, with the aim to promote the oral language of these elders as the exemplars for second-language learners. This involves the development of an online 'talking book' comprised of the oral recordings, transcriptions and translations of them, and a linguistic analysis with a focus on local dialects.
Joe’s passion for the language began in 1971 when he became a member of the Te Reo Māori Society at Victoria University of Wellington. The group was active in collecting signatures for the 30,000-signature Te Reo Māori Petition presented to Parliament in 1972. From there Joe became a teacher and has taught Māori in various settings including Ōmāhu Bilingual School, Queen Victoria School, The University of Auckland and EIT Hawke’s Bay where he became Dean of Māori Studies and worked for 17 years. During that time he led the development of the institute’s BA and BA Honours degrees, a series of on-air Māori language courses and the on-campus marae. He is a recipient of the Sir Winston Churchill Fellowship and the award for ‘Best Contribution to Māori Radio – Last 10 Years’ from Te Whakaruruhau o ngā Reo Irirangi Māori (Federation of Māori radio stations). He moved to Auckland to become General Manager – Te Reo Māori and Tikanga Māori at the Māori Television Service and from there moved to NPM in 2004. Joe is the founding and current Chairperson of Radio Kahungunu, a position he has held since the station began in 1988.