Dame Kāterina Mataira
‘an exceptional, creative person. As a Māori woman at the forefront of Māori language renaissance, she’s provided leadership, direction and security. As a writer and an artist, she’s had a profound effect on New Zealand society.’
Dame Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira of Ngāti Porou was a key revitaliser of the Māori language whose work continues to reach thousands of learners, young and old. She and Ngoi Pēwhairangi introduced the Te Ataarangi program, known to many as ‘the rākau method’, in which coloured sticks are used to focus natural conversation.
She was a prolific author, translator and illustrator, and her words and images continue to inspire, excite and contribute to the revitalisation of te reo.
Kāterina Mataira was a member of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, the Māori Language Commission, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Waikato in 1996. Already a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, she was made a Dame Companion shortly before her death in 2011.
Māori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples described her as ’the mother of kura kaupapa Maori’.
In 2001 Elizabeth Ellis, Chair of Te Waka Toi, the Māori Arts Board of Creative New Zealand, described Kāterina Mataira as ‘an exceptional, creative person. As a Māori woman at the forefront of Māori language renaissance, she’s provided leadership, direction and security. As a writer and an artist, she’s had a profound effect on New Zealand society.’
Selected bibliography from Storylines.org.nz
Maui and the Big Fish (Whitcombe and Tombs 1972).
Māori Legends for Young New Zealanders illustrated by Clare Bowes (Lansdowne 1975).
The Warrior Mountains illustrated by John Ford (Te Ataarangi Publications 1982).
The River Which Ran Away illustrated by John Bevan Ford (Ahuru Press 1983).
Cry-baby Moon with Terewai Kemp, illustrated by Hone Iho-o-te-rangi Ngata (Mallinson Rendel/Ahuru Press 1992). Te reo edition: Marama Tangiweto.
Modern Māori Picture Dictionary = He Papakupa Whakaahua mo te reo Maori o Naianei editor Katerina Mataira (Oxford University Press 1997).
Rangi and His Dinosaurs illustrated by Ali Teo (Huia Publishers 1998). Te reo edition: Nga Mokonui a Rangi.
Kapa Haka illustrated by Sylvia Huége de Serville. (Ahuru Enterprises 1999).
Pukapuka Tuhi Kupu ma nga Tamariki = A Maori Children's Picture Dictionary illustrated by Jenny Rhodes (Oxford University Press 2003)