2009: Dame Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira

Pikihuia Awards 2009 honour life work of Katarina Te Heikoko Mataira

Dame Katerina

With eight children, 29 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, Katarina Te Heikoko Mataira has still managed to find time throughout her busy life to translate and write award-winning stories in Te Reo Māori. Her significant contribution to Māori literature was honoured at the 2009 Pikihuia Awards for Māori Writers at Te Papa Museum in Wellington.

The Ngāti Porou member is the sole recipient of the NZ Post Special Award, to be given along with five other awards for the best entries in this year’s Pikihuia competition on Saturday night. Former winners of the Award presented by the Māori Literature Trust include, Patricia Grace, Witi Ihimaera, and Oho and Wiremu Kaa.

Katarina is responsible for translating over 25 books, and is the two-time recipient of LIANZA’s Te Kura Pounamu Māori Book Award, one in 1996 forMarama Tangiweto and again in 1997 for He tino Kuia taku Kuia. In July of this year Katarina was the World Linguapax Award at Parliament in July this year. It was the first time a New Zealander has been honoured with this award.

Managing Director of HUIA Publishers Robyn Bargh says it is an honour to be able to recognise those pivotal in the revival of Te Reo Māori like Katarina.

“Katarina has contributed so much to Māori literature and Māori education,” says Ms Bargh. “We are in no doubt as to her deservedness in receiving this award.”

The Raglan resident was a finalist in the 1997 Pikihuia Awards for her children’s story Ngā Mokonui a Rangi. She credits her talent to her father who she says was “a brilliant storyteller” and inspired her when she was younger.

Katarina has been at the forefront of the revival of Te Reo Māori. She established the first Māori language class in a state school at Northland College in 1956, and helped set up the first Māori language immersion school at Hoani Waititi Marae in 1985. She is described affectionately as the Mother of Kura Kaupapa Māori for her hand in Te Aho Matua, the charter for kaupapa Māori schools.

Katarina received the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1998 and Te Waka Toi Exemplary Award in 2001 for lifetime contribution to Te Reo Māori.

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