Paekākariki School’s celebration for Matariki, the Māori new year, was extra special this year as it unveiled a memorial plaque and tree to remember a significant local kuia.
The plaque recognised Jean Matekitewhawhai Andrews, QSM, a kuia of Ngāti Haumia ki Paekākāriki, Ngāti Toa and Te Āti Awa, who was a long-standing school Board member and well respected pillar of the community. Her Queen Services Medal (1987) was for community service, including her mahi teaching weaving, Kōhanga Reo involvement and her work with social welfare and the probation department.
A hybrid Pōhutukawa and Rātā tree was planted for Jean which was fitting as the Pōhutukawa star in Matariki is connected to the dead, and honouring the memories of those who have passed.
Karl Farrell thanked Paekākāriki School for recognising his Mum’s contribution to the school and community.
“A tree was planted for her about 15 years ago but no one knows what happened to it, and the school has really gone one better with the new tree and plaque. When manuhiri arrive to the school she’ll now be here as mana whenua to greet them as well,” Karl said.
Poet and performer Apirana Taylor opened the school’s ceremony with a karakia, followed by a whaikōrero by Koro Don Te Maipi and Karl Farrell. Pupils sang a waiata as a korowai was removed to reveal a beautiful granite plaque on a wooden stand, along with a rock gifted from Kāpiti Island.
Paekākāriki School Principal Julia Bevin said the Matariki memorial for Jean was a lovely occasion for the school and wider community to come together, reflect, share kai and look to the future.
“Leading up to Matariki, our teacher Jess Hortop ensured pupils learnt about Jean and Ngāti Haumia as part of our local history. When the school board heard about the original tree, we didn’t just want to replace it but to ensure the plaque would always connect our school to Jean, mana whenua, and where we are,” she said.
A big mihi to: Marv Foster for crafting the plaque’s stand with Karl Farrell (using a railway sleeper), Karl Webber for giving a kōhatu (rock) from Kāpiti Island, and Magno Vieira from Harcourts for gifting the tree.
Attendees included Kāpiti Mayor Janet Holborow and local councillor Sophie Handford. Following the ceremony, mana whenua, school whānau and community members shared kai in the school hall and watched students perform.
Paekākāriki.nz is a community-built, funded and run website. All funds go to weekly running costs, with huge amounts of professional work donated behind the scenes. If you can help financially, at a time when many supporting local businesses are hurting, we have launched a donation gateway.