NEW ZEALAND-On March 29, the advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing in New Zealand, Mr. Patrick Wikiriwhi Thompson passed away at the age of 50.

Thompson previously worked in the Deaf M’ori community for more than 20 years. He was an educator at the Kelston Boy’s High School Deaf Unit. He also worked as a social worker and promoter of the New Zealand sign language where he fought for the country to accept the NZ Sign Language as an official language.

According to Minister of Disability Issues Tariana Turia, Thompson was relied on by not only her, but by others for advice and experience as the Kaiwhakahaere for Ngati Turi o Aotearoa. His funeral was held on Wednesday, April 2, at the Wharekawa Marae, which was followed by his burial at the Whanau Urupa.

He leaves behind a legacy for the deaf community that has given New Zealand awareness of the deaf, which was his main goal in life.