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Poroporoaki to Irihapeti Merenia Ramsden

7 April 2003 Media Statement

Poroporoaki to Irihapeti Merenia Ramsden

“The death of Irihapeti Ramsden is a great loss for our people, and for this country,” said Tariana Turia, Associate Minister of Maori Affairs and Health.

“Irihapeti worked very hard, and very effectively, to build a nation based on inclusion. As an anthropologist, a nurse, a publisher and an educator, she strived to help people understand how their own culture impacted on others.

“Irihapeti was an outstanding educator on cultural issues and Treaty relationships. The cultural safety programme she helped to establish as part of nursing training is still bringing about significant changes. Irihapeti showed tremendous strength in promoting and defending the programme, and in completing her PhD thesis on Cultural Safety and Nursing Practice in Aotearoa and Te Waipounamu, even while she was dying of cancer.

“She had an astute mind, a vibrant personality, and a warm and gentle style. She was an outstanding communicator – she was able to say difficult things that needed to be said, with such understanding that you couldn’t really take offence.

“Irihapeti saw huge potential in our people, and she was passionate about releasing it. Twenty years ago, when Keri Hulme’s manuscript for ‘The Bone People’ was turned down by established publishers, Irihapeti got together with the Spiral Collective and they published the book privately. Of course, it went on to win the Booker Prize. More recently she helped to write the history of Ngati Poneke in Wellington.

“At a personal level, Irihapeti was good to me at critical times, sitting in the House to offer me comfort and support, and publicly defending me. I will always be grateful to her for that.

“E te rangatira, e te hoa, haere atu ra ki o taua tupuna, hoki wairua mai ki a matou e whai atu ana i muri i a koe.”


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