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Nurses share grief after death of Wellington centenarian

Press Release – NZNO
Several representatives of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation were this morning at the tangi beginning at the Pipitea marae in Thorndon to welcome Vera Morgan back on to to the marae after her death.

Vera Morgan began her involvement with NZNO 17 years ago. She was invited into the NZNO whānau by the then Te Rūnanga Chair, Sharon Morunga. During her time with NZNO she worked alongside Rev Leo Te Kira as they both developed the NZNO Philosophy – “Me haeretahi tātou mō te hauora me te oranga o ngā iwi katoa o Aotearoa: let us journey together for the health and wellbeing of the people of Aotearoa”

NZNO Kaiwhakahaera Kerri Nuku: “Mai ra e te Rangatira o Waima, haere atu ra ki Hawaiki nui, Hawaiki roa, Hawaiki pamamao.”

“We join with other groups paying their respects to this dynamic, staunch, well known and inspiring kuia, we were honoured to have her with us for 17 years,” Kerri Nuku said. “We send our condolences to her remaining children and whānau and thank them for sharing their beloved mother with the whole Wellington community, and in particular the New Zealand nurses.

“Aunty Vera believed in the strength of community in action and always reminded us to walk our talk at all times,” she said.

‘Aunty Vera’ came to Wellington from the Hokianga at age 18 years where she joined the Ngāti Pōneke Young Māori Club. In 1978 she received a Queen’s Service Medal and in 1998 she became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. She has held leadership roles with the Māori Women’s Welfare League and was a formative leader of the annual NZNO Matariki celebrations. In 2006 she was awarded the NZNO Te Rūnanga Akenei Hei Memorial Award. This award was established to mark 100 years of nursing registration in New Zealand.

E kore au e ngaro; he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea.
Aroha mai, aroha atu
Kia mau koe ki ngā kupu o ou tupuna

Press Release – New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
Syd Keepa, the Council of Trade Unions’ Te Kauae Kaimahi Vice-President Māori, said he was saddened to hear of the passing on Sunday of Vera Kirihau Morgan, fondly known as ‘Aunty Vera’.

“Aunty Vera’s death is a great loss for her whānau, Te Māhurehure hapū, Ngāti Pōneke kapa, and Māoridom generally. Our grief is mixed with reflections on how marvellous and unique her life was” he said.

“Aunty Vera was kaumātua for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation for many years, and her impressive age was no limited to her leadership. She was all about living a full and healthy life. She was no quiet figurehead – Aunty Vera was an absolute role model for ‘walking the talk’.”

“Her first priority was her whānau, friends, iwi Māori, and her Hāhi Mihingare. She was a champion for the rights of Māori and also the rights of common folk. She supported the mahi of our Rūnanga to bring a strong Māori voice to the union movement.”

Born in 1917 in Waima, Hokianga, Aunty Vera received a Queen’s Service Medal in 1978. She became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1998 for her services to the community of Wellington, where she lived for 80 years. Her many and varied community roles included; membership of Ngāti Pōneke Kapahaka from its beginning in the 1930s to the present; foundation member of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in 1951; acting as a mentor to numerous taitamariki Māori; owning and running the Wellington Downtown nightclub in the 1960s, and more recently being the patron of Tahiwi Kaumātua Kapahaka.

At the age of 99 she walked 2.4 kilometers daily on her walking frame, leading her team in the Te Heke Ora 1000 kilometer challenge. This year she celebrated her 100th birthday with high tea and a skydive.

Aunty Vera is lying in state at Pipitea marae, and tomorrow will travel by ferry to Picton and on to Te Āwhina marae, Motueka. Her funeral service will be held there at 11am on Thursday.

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