“A ha Te Arawa e!  E!  A ha Te Arawa e!  E!  Ko te whakaariki... ko te whakaariki!  Tukua mai ki a piri, tukua mai ki a tata.  Kia eke mai i runga ki te paepae poto a Houmaitawhiti!”

Teacher, guide, mentor, peacemaker, staunch unionist, and te reo Māori advocate – all these words describe the inimitable Whaea Kāterina Daniels says Sharn Riggs, National Secretary of Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union (TEU).

“Her passing leaves the members and staff of TEU with heavy hearts” says Riggs.

Whaea Kā, as she’s affectionately known, passed away yesterday in Rotorua. The TEU passes on its deepest condolences to her Daniels and Maniapoto whānau.

Whaea Kā, of Te Arawa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa, was Kuia of the Association of Staff in Teritary Education (ASTE) in the mid-1980s, the TEU from 2009-2018, and the Council of Trade Unions from 2014-2018.  In the 1990s Whaea Kā was made a life member of ASTE.  

During her almost four decades with the union she has served on numerous branches and national committees, and represented the organisation nationally and internationally at union and indigenous education forums.

Born at Whakarewarewa Pā, she was a penny diver, and spent part of her childhood living with her Koro who spoke only Māori.

She taught te reo Māori for decades in kōhanga reo, the compulsory and tertiary sectors, as well as community night classes.

Her academic work has been at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, Tai Poutini Polytechnic, and Waiariki Polytechnic.

She was a TEU member at Waiariki Polytechnic and represented her iwi, Tūhourangi-Ngāti Wāhiao, on Te Mana Mātauranga (the rōpū Māori in the Tiriti-relationship co-governance of the institution).

“All who had the privilege of spending time with Kā are richer for that experience. We were so grateful of the time she gave to us and willingness of her whānau to share their important taonga for the many years she was our Kuia”, says Matua Hōne Sadler, TEU Kaumātua.