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The Queen recognises New Zealand volunteer

Her Majesty The Queen recognises New Zealand volunteer with Commonwealth Points of Light award

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has today recognised Maata McManus, representing New Zealand, as the 74th Commonwealth Point of Light in honour of her exceptional voluntary service supporting women by sharing the traditional art of korowai.

Maata McManus, is a pioneering health worker who is using the ancient Maori art of weaving traditional feathered cloaks to reach local women in need of care and support. First inspired by her efforts to comfort a women who had lost children to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Maata began leading therapeutic weaving workshops to give women a space to grieve and find peace. She teaches women from across New Zealand how to weave the 'korowai' cloaks which are made with up to 4000 feathers and take at least three months to complete. When Maata realised that many of the Maori women she met in more rural communities were not accessing vital health screening services she began offering places on her popular workshops for women who agreed to undergo checks for breast and cervical cancer. As well as increasing take up of screening and providing support for grieving women, Maata is breathing new life into an ancient art form. She holds a biannual ball to showcase the cloaks the women make, inspiring attendees to keep this important Maori tradition alive for generations to come.

As part of the legacy of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London 2018, Her Majesty The Queen - as Head of the Commonwealth - is thanking inspirational volunteers across the 53 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond, by recognising one volunteer from each Commonwealth country each week in the two years following the summit.

By sharing these stories of service, the Commonwealth Points of Light awards celebrate inspirational acts of volunteering across the Commonwealth and help inspire others to make their own contribution to tackling some of the greatest social challenges of our time.

Each Commonwealth Point of Light will receive a personalised certificate signed by Her Majesty The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth. The award for Maata McManus will be presented on Monday 29th October at The British High Commission Wellington by British High Commissioner to New Zealand, HE Laura Clarke.

Maata McManus said:

“I feel blessed to receive acknowledgement for my voluntary efforts in both the cultural and health sector. Contribution to my people and community inspires me throughout my journey. My passion for weaving was inspired by my aunt who taught me how to weave. I hope to share this taonga (treasure) with others as she shared with me. Korowai wananga (the cloak-weaving workshop) to me provides our people with time for wellness, a sense of achievement and connection to their people and culture. Lastly, I'd like to acknowledge my aunt, father and mother upon receiving this award.”

HE Laura Clarke, UK High Commissioner in New Zealand said:

“It is wonderful to see Maata being recognised for her dedication to preserving and passing on cultural heritage, interlinked with supporting the healthcare needs of her community. Maata truly is a Point of Light for those around her, to whom she provides comfort in times of darkness, pain and grief. Her work embodies the spirit of the modern Commonwealth and reflects a true commitment to creating a brighter future for all.”

The Commonwealth is a diverse community of 53 nations that work together to promote prosperity, democracy and peace. The Heads of Government meeting brought together leaders from all the 53 Member countries to reaffirm common values, address shared global challenges and agree how to work to create a better future for all citizens, especially young people. Voluntary service is a vital part of this agenda, which is why Her Majesty The Queen has chosen to recognise outstanding volunteers across the Commonwealth in this special way.

ENDS


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