Tā Mark Solomon is committed to the betterment of his iwi, kotahitanga for Māori and the wider well-being of people and the environment. He is a strong advocate for the Māori economy and was instrumental in setting up the Iwi Chairs Forum (2005). He was the elected Kaiwhakahaere (Chair) of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu from 1998 to December 2016 and represented his local Papatipu Rūnanga, Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura from 1995 to December 2016.
Of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kurī descent, Tā Mark’s contribution to his community has been diverse and significant, ranging from roles as a school board trustee, to a past board member of the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Tongarewa). Tā Mark attributes his wider whānau (family) for early guidance and it is this experience that has driven his passion for encouraging educational opportunities for young Māori. He is a patron of He Toki Ki Te Rika, a Christchurch-based Māori pre-trade training programme, and the related He Toki Ki Te Mahi, an apprenticeship initiative both born from the Christchurch earthquake rebuild. He believes young Māori should strive for formal training to maximize their talents and to be the best they can be.
In 2013 he was awarded Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and Business. In April 2015 he received an Honorary Doctorate from Lincoln University as Doctor of Natural Resources, recognising his enduring interest and concern for our natural environment. Tā Mark was recently appointed to the National Science Challenge Governance Boards for Sustainable Seas and Deep South which relate to both ensuring our marine environment is understood and cared for and understanding the role of the Antarctic in determining our climate and future environment.
Tā Mark’s current directorships include Te Ohu Kaimoana, National Science Challenge Governance Boards for the Deep South and Sustainable Seas, Te Tapuae o Rehua and a trustee of Pure Advantage. He was an original member of the Minister for Māori Affairs Māori Economic Taskforce, established in 2009.
Tā Mark believes a true rangatira is a servant of the people, a fact underpinned by his core philosophy of ‘strength with humility’. Whilst the commercial success of Ngāi Tahu is acknowledged, Tā Mark is especially proud of the tribe’s achievements in education and the development of the Iwi’s savings scheme Whai Rawa. Tā Mark is a committed advocate for the sanctity of whānau and takes a strong stance against whānau violence. He is passionate about his people and is determined to facilitate both iwi and wider Māori success by unlocking the potential of the Māori economy for the good of all.