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Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira Honoured


EMBARGOED till 11am Saturday 20 October 2001

To: Maori Affairs Reporters/Arts Reporters

Date: 18 October 2001

No of pages: 5

Te Waka Toi Award honours
Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira
a lifetime contribution to te reo Mäori

One of the leading figures of the Mäori language renaissance has been recognised for her outstanding leadership and life-long commitment to Mäori arts and culture.

Author, artist and academic Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira (Ngäti Porou) is the recipient of the prestigious 2001 Te Tohu Tiketike a Te Waka Toi/Te Waka Toi Exemplary Award.

Te Waka Toi, the Mäori arts board of Creative New Zealand, will present the $20,000 annual award to Katerina at the Ngäti Porou marae in Ruatoria on Saturday, 20 October. Chair Elizabeth Ellis says Katerina has played a crucial role in the renaissance of te reo Mäori through the development of Te Ataarangi and through her writing.

“Katerina is an exceptional, creative person,” Elizabeth Ellis says. “As a Mäori woman at the forefront of Mäori language renaissance, she’s provided leadership, direction and security. As a writer and an artist, she’s had a profound effect on New Zealand society.”

Among her many achievements Katerina has been affectionately described as the mother of Kura Kaupapa Maori, having co-authored Te Aho Matua – the philosophy and charter for kaupapa Mäori schools.

In 1996, Katerina’s lifetime contribution to te reo Mäori was recognised by Waikato University when she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate. A year later, she was named in the Queen’s Honours List as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Past winners of Te Tohu Tiketike a Te Waka Toi have included Dr Pakariki (Paki) Harrison and Hinemoa Harrison, the late Jack Wihongi, and Rawinia and Tokorua Te Kani. The award was established in 1995 to recognise outstanding leadership and service to Mäori arts and culture.


MEDIA NOTE: You are invited to attend the presentation of Te Tohu Tiketike a Te Waka Toi to Katerina at her home marae near Ruatoria on Saturday 20 October at 11am. There will be a powhiri at 9am with the presentation to follow thereafter. A copy of the programme is enclosed and a map to find the marae is attached as an appendix. Please advise if you will be attending.

Also, photos of the ceremony will be available on Monday. If you would like me to send you any, please let me know.

Reuben Wharawhara
Communications Adviser, Maori Development
Creative New Zealand
Tel: 04-498 0727 or 025 534 174

9:00am: Whakaeke Ngati Porou Marae

10:00: Taumata o Mihi urupa for hura kohatu

11:00 – 11:15 Return to Ngati Porou Marae

11:15 – 11:30 Te Tohu Tiketike award ceremony

12:30pm Hakari

4:00 Poroporaki

People who will speak during the ceremony are:

 Elizabeth Ellis, chair of Te Waka Toi
 Eruera Kawhia, whanau representative
 Jacob Karaka, Ataarangi
 Katerina Mataira

The award will be presented by the chair of Te Waka Toi and the Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Parekura Horomia.

Members of Te Waka Toi confirmed to attend the ceremony include Keri Kaa and Mika. The chair of the Arts Council, Peter Biggs, will also be attending.


Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira:
born to tell stories

Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira (Ngäti Porou), recipient of the 2001 Tohu Tiketike a Te Waka Toi/Te Waka Toi Exemplary Award, was born to tell stories.

Katerina credits her gift of storytelling to her parents, Raniera and Erana Harrison, who raised a large family in Ruatoria. Mäori was their native tongue.

“My father was a brilliant storyteller,” Katerina recalls. “Many of his stories were about his own life. They were full of real people and real events. There were scary ones too. He loved to tell ghost stories, then send one of us kids outside to fetch wood for the fire.”

When the 69-year-old is not writing she likes to play golf and enjoys telling stories to her eight children, 29 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

“When the focus on Mäori language revival began, someone said to me ‘How much time will you spend on this project?’ I remember saying I would probably keep working at it until the day I die.”

Katerina, who lives in Raglan, is a prolific writer and an artist. She has had more than 50 books published, including Marama Tangiweto (Cry-baby Moon), written with Terewai Kemp, and He Tino Kuia Taku Kuia (My Kuia is a Special Kuia), which won Te Kura Pounamu Book Awards in 1996 and 1997.

Her latest writing project is a three-volume novel called Te Tai o Marokura. Written in te reo Mäori, the novel records the impact of Ngäti Toa warrior chief Te Rauparaha’s invasion of Te Waipounamu (South Island).

The idea for the novel developed while Katerina was touring the South Island in the early nineties with her husband, Junior Mataira.

“Whenever I go into a new area I head straight to the library,” Katerina says. “I was fascinated by the history of the early people in the South Island. The more I moved around, the more I learned and the more intrigued I became.”

Katerina was moved by the plight of the survivors – particularly the Mäori women, children and the elderly, who fled to the bush in fear of their lives.

“Historical records tend to focus on the activity of rangatira (chief),” she says. “But this book is about ordinary people.”

Set between 1828 and 1837, the novel’s main characters are young teenagers who face many challenges as the story unfolds. Katerina was keen to target a young adult audience and to highlight the futility of violence.

Katerina received a $30,000 grant from te Waka Toi to publish the novel, which is currently being edited and will be released for circulation by Ahuru Press next year.

There’s a tendency among Mäori to romantacise the past, Katerina says. “As a people, we most certainly should celebrate the achievements of the past but we should also reflect upon and learn from the not-so-palatable events of our history.”

In 1996, Katerina’s lifetime contribution to te reo Mäori was recognised by Waikato University when she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate. A year later, she was named in the Queen’s Honours List as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

She developed Te Ataarangi method of teaching te reo Mäori after she met American Peace Corps volunteers, who had learned Fijian from native speakers. These speakers had taught others by using coloured rods at elementary levels.

When she was granted a Research Fellowship at Waikato University in 1976, Katerina was able to explore the possibilities of adopting this method to teach te reo Mäori.

Under the auspices of the New Zealand Council of Adult Education, Katerina enthused other te reo Mäori exponents with this new teaching method, including Ngäti Porou composer Ngoi Pewhairangi. Te Ataarangi was born, and continues to be used both at the community and tertiary levels.

Educationalist Dr Pita Sharples, who was instrumental in founding the first kura kaupapa Mäori at Hoani Waititi Marae in 1985, says Katerina joined Te Aroha Paenga and him in 1985 to establish the programme, curriculum and pedagogy for the Mäori language school at Hoani Waititi.

“Katerina Mataira is sometimes referred to as the ‘mother’ of kura kaupapa Mäori,” Pita Sharples says. “Her sacrifice to move and live in Auckland at Hoani Waititi Marae for two years to help create the first kura kaupapa Maori was just one example of her unselfish giving of herself to her people.”


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