Dame Aroha and Matua Joe leave a lasting legacy for wāhine and kōhine Māori

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Dame Aroha and Matua Joe leave a lasting legacy for wāhine and kōhine Māori

Women in Sport Aotearoa, Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa (WISPA), is deeply saddened by the loss of two incredible kaumatua, Dame Aroha Reriti-Crofts CBE (Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Ngāi Tahu) and Matua Joseph Parata Hohepa (“Joe”) Hawke MNZM (Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei).

WISPA Co-Chairs, Sarah Leberman MNZM and Julie Paterson, said: “Both Dame Aroha and Matua Joe leave an enormous legacy that will continue to impact our society positively long into the future. Over 50+ years, they have led and supported Māori communities. WISPA is grateful to have worked with them, via their iwi and organisations, to advance equity of opportunity for wāhine and kōhine in play, active recreation and sport across Aotearoa.”

Well known as the leader of the Bastion Point occupation, Matua Joe and Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei have played an influential role in guiding WISPA’s commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. In 2018, WISPA worked on its first international proposal, successfully bidding for Aotearoa as the host Secretariat for the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport 2018-2022 and the 8th IWG World Conference. Joe and his son Taiaha Hawke led the official proceedings for the handover of the Secretariat from Botswana to Aotearoa.

Since then, WISPA has engaged even more deeply and developed its understanding of what being a bi-cultural and Te Tiriti inspired organisation means. In early 2021, 12 WISPA Board, Team and Agency members undertook 40 hours of Te Kaa training with Precious Clark (Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei) and her team. In parallel, WISPA established its Māori roopu, He Wāhine Toa kei te Kokiri (Strong Women Making a Move), with senior wāhine represented across the motu. It also set up a partnership with the Māori Women’s Development Inc (MWDI).

This new collaboration with MWDI, governed by all past Presidents of Māori Women’s Welfare League (MWWL), starting April 2021, intersected with Dame Aroha’s decades of service through her mahi on behalf of Māori nationwide. Dame Aroha was an active and recognisable leader and advocate for wāhine and kōhine health, wellbeing, and community. Her passion and care was woven into WISPA’s relationship with MWDI and MWWL, and together as partners, we are working on joint domestic programming to support wāhine and kōhine Māori to a place of equity within play, active recreation and sport. Dame Aroha, along with Taiaha Hawke, joined WISPA at the Captains Lunch in 2021, as valued partners.

WISPA CEO, Rachel Froggatt, said: “Both Dame Aroha and Matua Joe, and the iwi and organisations they led, have had a long lasting positive impact on Women in Sport Aotearoa, Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa. Their intrinsic understanding of advocacy and their ability to build positive relationships to drive change, were and will always be, truly inspiring. Both Māoridom, and wider Aotearoa, will greatly miss these true champions.”

Our thoughts and aroha are with whānau and friends at this time.

He kotuku rerenga tahi
A white heron flies once

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