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He Aituā: Esther Tinirau

Iri te raukawakawa ki whare aituā, pōuri ana te awa nui nei māi i te kāhui maunga ki Tangaroa. He aituā! He aituā!

It is with great sadness that Te Pāti Māori acknowledge the passing of Esther Tinirau (Ngāti Ruaka). A dedicated leader of her people, Esther was a te reo Māori educator and a senior manager within iwi and the Ministry of Education. Before she fell ill in 2016, Esther was about to begin a new role as national director of the Te Kōhanga Reo Trust.

“I had a very personal relationship with Esther - we were both CEO of South Taranaki iwi at a time when we were pushing to work collectively to set up the Iwi Fishing Collective (ICP), hence why we called each other mermaid,” said Te Pāti Māori Co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

“As a peer Esther was hugely intelligent and bought her academic life at Massey under Tā Mason Durie to the board table, ensuring first principles as tangata whenua were always upheld. She challenged me on many fronts to look for our solutions.

“As a tuahine we spoke often of our whānau, her passion for her Awa and Kāhui Maunga, for Rānana and Tūmanako, she had a beautiful karanga that rose and gathered us, a rangi so old it’s going to be sorely missed when the Awa gathers.

“In typical Esther style when she got sick she became a staunch advocate and campaigner alongside Bowel Cancer NZ for immediately lowering the bowel screening age for Māori to 50. Last election Te Pāti Māori adopted this policy, which was due to the courage and advocacy of people like Esther who shared their experiences. We will continue to fight to the lower screening age for as long as it takes.

“Our aroha is with the whānau pani, Mike, Kahurangi, Rawiri, her mokopuna, Ngāti Ruaka and the iwi of Whanganui at this devastating time. E te tuahine, e Esther, e kore e mimiti te aroha mōu. Moe mai rā e te rangatira,” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.

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