5. Poroporoaki for Ama

We heard this week that Māori activist Miriama Rauhihi Ness, known to many friends as Ama, had died , a month  after becoming ill at Waitangi.  She was farewelled by a packed congregation of Māori, Pasifika and Pākehā friends and supporters at Tipene Funerals on  Wednesday 17 March in the evening, and by family at Waikumete Cemetery on Friday 18th.

Ama was an activist from a young age, as a key organisers of the Land March led by Dame Whina Cooper in 1975. and then an active member of Polynesian Panthers in Auckland.  In recent years she has been at Auckland Council as an anti-racism trainer, continuing her efforts to create a more Treaty-based society.

Charmaine first met Ama when Rosemary, a teacher at AGGS, brought her one evening in 1979 to  Charmaine’s home to talk to her about structural racism at AGGS .  A couple of hours later, Charmaine was left reeling with a new understanding of the challenges the school faced if it were to provide an empowering education for all its diverse students – starting with staff training in eliminating institutional racism.  In a very real way, Ama initiated those significant changes which led to positive transformation in the school.

Tanya and Charmaine  have met Ama quite often over the years, most recently through functions at the Auckland Women’s Centre, where she was still challenging us all to understand the nature of racism and to transform our ways of working together.

We were deeply sad to hear of her death this week.

Moe mai rā, moe mai rā, moe mai rā, e te māreikura…


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