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Ngai Tauira

Fondly known by the moniker of Gran, 2016 marks Kathy Samuels’ 25th year of service at Victoria University. She has proudly served the university in her role as the senior kaiarahi of Te Herenga Waka marae. In talking with Māori tauira who work with or know Gran well, many anecdotes have come to light that speak volumes about her status as a core pillar of the Māori community here at Vic.

An awesome seamstress, she has come to the aid of many of our tauira in their sartorial times of need. One student recounts the time she hemmed his pants and ironed his shirt to prepare him for his first job interview, another recalls discovering her ball dress was too big—on the day of the event. Gran took-it-in in record time and the tauira swanned off to He Matarere, our first official Ngai Tauira ball. Coincidentally, the same night Gran was presented with the inaugural super-gran award.

Despite the appearance of a hard exterior, she has worked her way into the hearts, and stomachs, of people from all walks of life with her no nonsense words of advice, and caramel bananas. The marae is forever receiving visits from current tauira, former tauira, and friends of the university, the likes of which include High Court judges and famous authors, all of whom drop in to see Gran for a cup of tea and some goss. Many current tauira credit their success at university, and in life, to her guidance and influence. She acts as a bridge between tauira and lecturers, and has been responsible for facilitating life-changing opportunities.

Gran is the epitome of an excellent work ethic, and leads by example through the embodiment of tikanga Māori in everything that she does. She personifies all of the tangas that we, as Māori, hold to the highest degree of importance—manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, and rangatiratanga.

Nō reira e te tuhi māreikura, nei te waha ake i ngā mihi manahau ki a koe.  Ka tika kia whakanuia koe me āu mahi i ngā tini tau i a koe i konei, i te whare wānanga e mahi ana.  Kua whairawa te whānau o Te Herenga Waka, otirā te whare wānanga whānui i tō nohonga mai hei pou mō mātou. E kore e ea i ngā kupu te whakatauira i te nui o te aroha o te whānau mōu.  Ko koe te whakatinanatanga o te herenga kōrero, te herenga tāngata, te herenga waka.

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Newtown, between 1908-10. Photograph taken by Sydney Charles Smith. 1888-1972: Photographs of New Zealand. Courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library. 1/1-019663-G

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