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August 1, 2011 | by  | in News |
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Dame Whetu Mourned

New Zealand’s longest-serving female MP passed away last week.

Dame Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan has been described by Labour’s Parekura Horomia as a “great Maori leader”, holding office as a Labour MP for 29 years, from 1967 to 1996.

Dame Whetu was highly regarded for her contributions to Maori advancement and as a female role model.
“She was a woman of firsts,” Horomia said.

Among other things, she advocated for the teaching of Te Reo in schools, championed welfare reform, and helped to bridge the gap between Maori and Pakeha communities.

Dame Whetu was also the first Maori woman to serve on the VUWSA executive. She was elected as Women’s Vice-President in 1960, and pushed for the teaching of Maori language at Victoria, as well as improved student health services.

She also campaigned for New Zealand history to be taught at university, something not common at the time.
New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations co-president David Do said that people like Dame Whetu are “the reason the students of today enjoy such a wide-ranging education and student experience”.

In Cabinet, she held Tourism, Social Welfare, and Environment portfolios, and was awarded the Order of New Zealand for helping to build a “harmonious relationship” between Maori and Pakeha.

“She will be sorely missed,” Horomia added. “Dame Whetu served with strength, mana and commitment.”

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  1. Elyza says:

    That’s not even 10 mnuites well spent!

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