Ngati Porou matriarch mourned
Tributes are flowing for Ngati Porou matriarch Keita Whakato Walker (nee Ngarimu), who passed away on Wednesday.
Affectionately known as Nanny Kate, the Ngati Porou kuia was known for her lifetime of contribution to her iwi and community.
Throughout her lifetime she was a strong advocate on matters relating to Maori, particularly in education, te reo Maori and Maori land issues as a member of the Waitangi Tribunal.
As the sister of Victoria Cross recipient Te Moananui a Kiwa Ngarimu, she was also a strong supporter of 28 Maori Battalion, by ensuring the legacy of the battalion would live on and be remembered by future generations.
Mrs Walker was also a star of the silver screen.
She played the lead role of Rawi in the 1952 New Zealand feature film Broken Barrier — a love story of a young Maori woman and a young Pakeha man, and the cultural and racial challenges they faced.
She was a reluctant participant, volunteered for the role by East Coast leader Sir Apirana Ngata.
On Radio Waatea this morning, Willie Te Aho paid tribute to Mrs Walker.
“She was famous in her own right.
“She was an educator, her language was impeccable.”
With the Tamararo kapa haka regionals being staged at Houhoupiko tomorrow, Mr Te Aho said to expect many more tributes for the Ngati Porou rangatira.
One of Mrs Walker’s last contributions to the community was as recent as last Friday at Kiri Te Kanawa village.
She attended a special hui which saw an exchange of gifts between Ngati Rangi and Ryman Healthcare, who had supported Reporua Marae recently.
Mrs Walker is lying at Hiruharama Marae, Ruatoria, where her funeral service will be held at 11am on Sunday, May 27 followed by interment at Turanga Rahui.
She is survived by her many children and grandchildren.