Poroporoaki: Dame Georgina Kamiria Kirby

E Te Kōkō Tangiwai, Te Tuhi Mareikura, Te Kākākura Pokai kua riro i a matou. He toka tū moana ākinga ā tai, ākinga ā hau, ākinga ā ngaru tūātea.  Haere atu rā ki te mūrau a te tini, ki te wenerau a te mano.  E tae koe ki ngā rire o ngā rangi, ki te tauranga o Ihoa, tēnā te reo pōwhiri whakatau i a koe:

Haere mai e te hunga whakapai a tōku Matua, nohoia te rangatiratanga o te rangi, kua rite noa atu mō koutou nō te orokohanganga mai rā anō o te ao.

Māoridom mourn the loss of a great wāhine leader, Minister for Māori Development announced today.

Dame Georgina Kamiria Kirby DBE, QSO sadly passed away last week in Auckland Hospital aged 85.

The Ngāti Kahungunu descendant was born in 1936 at Horohoro, near Rotorua, the eldest of 11 children, her father was a farmer. She attended Horohoro School, Rotorua High School and the University of Auckland.

She was a junior assistant teacher at Whakarewarewa School from 1953 to 1954, a toll operator from 1955-1956 and a training officer from 1956-1963 with the New Zealand Post office where her late husband Brian also worked.

Willie Jackson said Dame Kirby was a staunch advocate for mana wāhine and it showed through some of the initiatives she championed.

“She was president of the Māori Women’s Welfare League from 1983 to 1987, launching both stop smoking and weight reduction campaigns as part of the league’s Decade of Health programme.

“Dame Kirby was innovative, a visionary and strongminded; when she believed in a kaupapa she put all her efforts behind it. And she was a mentor for many emerging young Māori women leaders,” Willie Jackson said.

Encouraging wāhine to achieve their ambition in the business world saw Dame Kirby form the Māori Women’s Development Incorporated, to help Māori women who could not obtain loan grants. She also secured a $250,000 seed grant from the Department of Māori Affairs Mana enterprise loan scheme to set up the fund, which now has assets of more than $4 million and has helped hundreds of wāhine into businesses.

The list of achievements for Dame Kirby is far and wide included being the Commissioner of New Zealand at the World Expo from 1983-86, Willie Jackson said.

During the same period of time, she also launched the Rapuora Māori Women’s Health Survey (1984). In the following year, Dame Kirby established Whare Rapuora Health and Wellness Clinics throughout New Zealand.

Dame Kirby was one of 16 leaders who began the original Mana Wāhine Inquiry claim in 1993.

The claim was triggered by the removal of Dame Mira Szaszy from the shortlist of appointees to the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission. The original inquiry examined the inherent mana and iho of ngā wāhine Māori; the systemic discrimination, deprivation and inequities experienced by wāhine Māori. The Inquiry is currently before the Waitangi Tribunal.

Dame Kirby’s tireless work would be recognised in the 1989 New Year Honours when she was appointed a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for community service. This would be followed by the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal in 1993 and culminating in being made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for services to Māori in 1994.

“It was an honour to have known Dame Kirby and she will be sorely missed and my thoughts and wishes go out to her whānau.”

Her funeral service was held today at Te Māhurehure Marae in Point Chevalier.