He Maimai Aroha mō Marara Te Mateapiti (Mate) Reweti
E rongo tonu ana ahau i a koe e Kui e...
I te kōrihi a ngā manu
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Nei rā te rau wharawhara o te aroha
E pātukituki te ngākau a tangata
E kui, ko koe te pakanga kiritahi i te tōtara hoe o mate
Haere, haere, e hoki atu rā...
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Whakairo ake e ngā toki waihanga i te tā moko kei te pō,
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Mate was preparing for her retirement in the late 1990s when she first came to work as a researcher with the then, SES Poutama Pounamu research whānau. We soon learned that although she had lived for much of her adult life away from her own rohe, Mate was staunchly proud of who she was, her iwi connections, her birthplace, her roles as mother, grandmother, great grandmother and teacher. In our research work, her connections to Hikurangi, to Ngāti Porou and to people were always important. Mate’s networks were immense, many people from all walks of life had long associations with her. People knew and respected her, not only for her beauty, her inner-strength and wisdom but for her generosity of spirit and for her energy in getting the job done.
As a child Mate had not always planned to be an educator, she had once been intent on a career as a nurse. Her parents and her school principal decided that she would become a teacher and the rest is history. Mate become a teacher and worked in education for the most part of her adult life. However, Mate was never a teacher alone. Her interests were wide and varied. Her strengths in Māori culture, her amazing singing voice and her fluency as a Native speaker of Māori meant that Mate was always sought after to lead in cultural and church activities. After a lifetime in kapahaka leadership roles herself, Mate was often called upon to give advice, to tutor and to judge at regional and national levels of kapahaka and Manu Kōrero. An important part of teaching for Mate was the preservation of our traditional language and cultural practices. Mate believed that we must all be strong enough to uphold the reo and tikanga ourselves if we were to maintain and spread it.
Over the years, she continued to instil high educational aspirations into the many students that she taught, influencing, no doubt, many generations. Mate believed that through learning and education one could develop a sense of self worth, increased self-determination as well as enhanced future life chances. It was always her vision that the students in her classrooms would grow up with these aspirations. For many, the culmination has been that they have done well and are still fulfilling Mate’s hopes and dreams for them. Mate never saw age as being a barrier to her continued participation in this work. Whether working in Māori or English medium education, Mate could be counted upon to provide expertise, guidance and support to those with whom she worked. Her position as a researcher provided her with further opportunities to contribute to the development of Māori language resources and the professional development of teachers as a means to supporting the educational aspirations of Māori students and their families. In this regards, Mate continued to give unstintingly up until her death expending her energies to support education not only for the betterment of Māori but for all. In her later years Mate provided a major contribution to Te Kotahitanga and had also begun to support He Kākano, two of the MoE’s major initiatives aimed at raising Māori students’ achievement. We conclude with a whakataukī that Mate saw as fitting direction for the leaders who will participate in He Kākano:
E kore te totara e tu noa ke te parae engari me tu ki roto i te wao.
The totara is not found growing in open country but only in the heart of the forest.
Metaphorically translated, a leader’s proper place is amongst their people surrounded and supported by them. In this regards, those who have had the privilege to know and work alongside Mate would say that she, herself a leader in education, always led by example. That is her legacy to us all.