Newspaper Article 2017 – Language work brings reward

Language work brings reward

Queen’s Service Medal

A strong advocate for Maori education and the revitalisation of te reo received a Queen’s Service Medal in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The award still hadn’t sunk in for Omahu resident Rehia Hanara yesterday but it was fair to say she felt very humbled.

“I am overwhelmed and speechless,” Mrs Hanara said.

The 84-year-old played a vital part in the establishment of the first kohanga reo in the Ngati Kahungunu tribal district on Omahu Marae in 1981 and went on to be a strong advocate for Maori language.

She said the local school wasn’t keen on promoting the Maori language at the time so a group of passionate men and women got together to establish an alternative.

“It was sad but we had to break away from Omahu School so we managed to get the old principal’s house and convert that into the kohanga before establishing Te Kura Kaupapa O Te Ara Hou.”

She said it wasn’t easy because the kohanga had to move around for a while, going to places such as Mangateretere, before being cemented in its present site in Napier.

Mrs Hanara is currently kuia and kaikaranga for Ngati Kahungunu and was involved in fundraising for the construction of the Omahu Marae wharekai, which was opened in 1990 debt free.

She was also involved with the Omahu Maori Committee, which engaged with local authorities on issues affecting the Omahu community.

“I don’t teach any more at the marae but I still go along and sit there and support everyone and guide them.

“I love being able to see the young ones come up and I have my children and grandchildren all here.”

In 2015 Mrs Hanara received the Heretaunga Taiwhenua Living Taonga Award for her contribution to the community.

Her granddaughter Jacqueline Hanara said, “She has been there for us and is our go-to lady.”

Ms Hanara said her grandmother would give advice to anyone and everyone on a range of things, whether it be life skills or advice on the marae.

Photo caption – REHIA HANARA, QSM

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Newspaper article

Date published

5 June 2017


Hawke's Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • Ms Jacqueline Hanara
  • Mrs Rehia Hanara

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