Patricia Laura Te Waikapoata Mathieson was born in New Plymouth on 31 March 1927. Her father, Thomas Berge Tūpeka (Bert) Mathieson, of the Taranaki iwi, was a motor mechanic and later a taxi and bus driver. Her mother was Norah Laura Te Aroaro o Paritutu Ruakere of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and of Taranaki hapū Ngā Māhanga-a-Tāiri. Pat, the middle child of four brothers and three sisters, was raised in the Catholic faith at New Plymouth. She attended St Joseph’s Roman Catholic School, Moturoa, and Sacred Heart Convent High School, Fitzroy. At high school she excelled academically (she was dux) and was prominent in athletics and team sports.
After teacher training at Auckland, Pat Mathieson began teaching in 1948, firstly at Ohura, then Tokomaru Bay, Pungarehu (Taranaki) and St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College, Napier. Māori culture was important to her and at Pungarehu she was instrumental in establishing the successful Kia Ū Māori club. This brought together many young Māori who, under her leadership, became versed in the culture of Taranaki iwi, played sports and were participants in the annual Catholic Hui Aranga competitions.
After almost six years’ teaching, in 1953 Pat Mathieson joined the New Zealand Women’s Royal Army Corps as a temporary corporal. She was posted to Waiōuru as the education assistant. During her two years’ service she excelled at sport and represented the army at netball, basketball and athletics; she was frequently captain of these teams. She set records in five track and field events and in 1955 gained her army colours for sport. During 1955 she was promoted to sergeant and posted to Fort Dorset, Wellington.
That year she left the army to join the New Zealand Police Force; she was the first Māori policewoman. An outstanding recruit, during her six months’ training at the New Zealand Police Training School, Trentham, she out-performed the other cadets in her class. During her first posting she made a strong impression as a beat constable and in 1958, after a period working undercover, she was made a detective in Wellington.
On 24 May that year she married Jeffrey Donald Hond, a Royal New Zealand Air Force warrant officer, at Wellington. When, soon after, they began a family, she reluctantly retired from the police. The couple were to have three sons and three daughters; one son died in childhood. Over the next two decades the family lived at Wellington, Auckland and Hamilton.
In 1975 Pat Hond began tertiary study at the University of Waikato, and the following year joined the staff at the Hamilton Teachers’ College’s experimental school. She was interested in early childhood education and the development of Māori pre-school co-operatives, and served as president of the pre-school association in the Waikato region. Although not fully fluent in colloquial Māori herself, Hond placed strong emphasis on the spoken as well as the written language and on culture. She considered a good education to be pivotal to the advancement of Māori, and campaigned for an education system that took account of Māori culture and values. For a time she was Māori adviser to the New Zealand Post-primary Teachers’ Association.
Pat Hond taught for a year at Hillcrest High School before being appointed, in 1978, deputy principal at the school attached to the Department of Social Welfare Girls’ Home in Dey Street, Hamilton East. Here she taught and counselled teenaged girls (most of whom were Māori), encouraging them to have pride in themselves.
In 1984 Pat and Jeff Hond moved to New Plymouth, where Pat immediately became involved in local activities, such as the prison reform committee, and worked as a community officer at the Department of Māori Affairs. In 1987 she helped establish the Taranaki Activity Centre, an alternative education institution for teenagers failing in the state education system. She also served on the local Regional Employment and Access Council (REAC), the supervising committee for the ACCESS and MACCESS work schemes.
Appalled at the poor state of Māori culture and language in Taranaki, she formed the Te Reo o Taranaki organisation to promote and foster Māoritanga. As Māori adviser to the Taranaki Polytechnic, she successfully agitated for the establishment of a Māori studies department and found highly skilled tutors for the staff. Through such initiatives Hond assisted a Māoritanga renaissance in Taranaki, especially among the young.
A natural leader and committed Catholic, Hond was outspoken on numerous issues affecting Māori, particularly when she considered injustices were being perpetrated. She was in demand as a guest speaker and helped prepare speeches for Māori protest movement leader Eva Rickard.
Hond was aware of the many problems alcohol created for Māori and was a non-drinker. Yet heart problems, aggravated by 40 years of cigarette smoking, led to her death on 18 November 1989 at New Plymouth. She was survived by her husband and five children and is buried in the Ruakere family cemetery at Pūniho.
Pat Hond’s driving ambition had been the advancement of Māori through education. By working with Māori within the education system she encouraged them to learn while exposing them to their culture. Her own children were taught Māoritanga and became fluent in the language. Four have continued Hond’s work promoting Māori education at all levels.