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Making A Difference For Hundreds

Making A Difference For Hundreds

Te Tai Tonga candidate, Ngaire Button, says she is rapt local hero, Tihi Puanaki, has been named Regional Winner of the Pride of NZ 2014, Lifetime Achievement Award.

Acknowledging Canterbury’s good fortune in having Ms Puanaki as being a long time resident, Mrs Button credited the dynamic woman with literally transforming the lives of hundreds of young people through her inspirational teaching.

Tihi Puanaki is the founding member of Te Kotahitanga, the longest running kapa haka group in the South Island, for more than four decades. “Whaea Tihi has been outstanding in every aspect of the art form, as a performer, writer, advocate, teacher, instructor, composer, choreographer, judge and speaker,” says Mrs Button.

In 2011, Tihi Puanaki was honoured with the Keeper of Traditions award at the National Waiata Maori awards; and it is for her expertise and influence in kapa haka that she was nominated for the Pride of New Zealand award.

In 1986, she established the first kura kaupapa Maori in Te Waipounamu, Te Kura Whakapumau i Te Reo Tuturu. She then went on to open the first immersion/bi-lingual initiative in a secondary school in 1990.

“Exceptional individuals like Tihi and her unselfish contribution to the Canterbury community over such a long period is something the Maori Party is extremely pleased to pay tribute to.
I personally know her as an outstanding champion of the human spirit and a hugely respected and popular wahine,” says Mrs Button


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