Epitaph for Mark Laws

10 January 2011

Ako AotearoaeMM

I am very sad to learn of the death of Dr Mark Laws just before New Years. He apparently drowned while on holiday with his family. If any of his family read this I hope they will accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of someone who I regarded as a good friend and impressive New Zealander, as well as my regret that I was unable to make it to his funeral. Mark was someone I had a lot of respect for - his energy, passsion for Maori education, and sheer ability to make change happen.

Mark was Director of the eWananga Centre for Creative Teaching and Learning at Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi and was leading and influencing the Wananga's use of technology in ways that will be missed for years to come. The Herald article listed some of the other projects he led, and he was also the recipient of a number of scholarships, awards and grants over the last decade, including the Inaugural FiRST Awards, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology in 1999. He was constantly talking about others - the impact that the Wananga was having on the local community, Maori throughout New Zealand, and those students who were obtaining PhDs at the Wananga. He was most proud of their success and was constantly praising their achievements when I visited.

Mark and I met through our shared interest in technology and have been working together on the Ako Aotearoa change project. I will remember him as someone with the rare combination of skills, intelligence, good humour and a down to earth appreciation of the important things in life. Last time we met he was saying that his wife had taken up fishing with him and he clearly loved the sea and fishing for kai moana. I will very much miss him.