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Leader of Presbyterian Maori Synod Dies

Leader of Presbyterian Maori Synod Dies

Mrs Mona Riini the Moderator of Te Aka Puaho died suddenly today (Wednesday September 18) in Palmerston North. Mrs Riini was in her second term as Moderator of the Maori synod of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.

She was in Palmerston North at the Nga Manu Korero speech competitions to present an award named in honour of her late husband Sonny (Tehiko) Riini. Acting Moderator the Very Rev Tama Hehe Takao, said Mrs Riini who was appointed Moderator in 1999, was the first woman Moderator for Te Aka Puaho. “ She was very important for our people and as a Maori woman leader,” he said.

“She brought strength of character and academic knowledge and standards to her role as a leader of Maori Christian people, as well as the ability to relate to people from the grassroots, Mr Takao said.

“This came from her upbringing in the close knit community of Ruatahuna in Ureweras where her parents knew the prophet Rua Kenna and the early Presbyterian leaders the Very Rev John Laughton and Sister Annie Henry,” Mr Takao said.

The Right Rev Michael Thawley, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church said, “The Presbyterian Church, Maoridom and New Zealand has lost a great educationalist and leader.”

Mrs Riini (Tuhoe) was active in the Church for over 50 years and had represented the Presbyterian Church at many international conferences. Educated at Turakina Maori Girls College, she was a prominent educationalist. Her first teaching post was at Tarewa school in Ruatoki. She taught for many years in Auckland and had been Maori Education Advisor for the Auckland College of Education. She was a member of the New Zealand Maori Council and of the Board of Proprietors of Turakina Maori Girls College.

She is survived by two sons and two daughters.

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