Nanny Ma – Rebecca Nukunuku’s passing

Tena koutou ngā whanau o te kura o Westmere

Last Friday we informed you of Nanny Ma’s illness. Today I am writing to let you know that Nanny Ma passed away on Sunday night. All our aroha and kind thoughts are with her whanau at this time.

Nan has been the spiritual backbone of our school for the past 12 years, teaching in Nga Uri O Nga Iwi up until her operation, officiating at every school powhiri, blessing and naming new buildings, offering her expertise to students and staff alike.  With children and grandchildren attending this school, Nan’s association is long and her service to this community irreplaceable.

Nga Uri O Nga Iwi, the Maori education hub and the BOT have agreed to hold Nan’s tangihanga for two days and two nights in the hall Te Whare Kotahitanga, before she is taken back to her home marae at Whangaparaoa on the East Coast early on Wednesday morning.

Nan will arrive at school at 1.40pm this afternoon (Monday), when all children are back in class.

From now on, the hall is not available for school activities. Teachers have spoken to their classes this morning. Here is a copy of the message we have given all our children:

Last night Nanny Ma who is our Kuia or elder, passed away after being in hospital for four months. She passed away at home surrounded by all her family and died very peacefully. Nan is a very special member of our school community- she is always at our powhiri, she blesses and names new buildings around our school and has worked in Nga Uri O Nga Iwi with our teachers and children.  She loved being a part of our community. Many of her children and grandchildren have attended Westmere School. In Maori culture families and friends of people who have passed away hold a tangihanga for them. This lets people who love Nanny Ma come and visit with her. We are very lucky because Nanny Ma’s family have asked if for two days of her Tangi that we can have Nanny Ma here at school in Te Whare Kotahitanga, our Hall named by Nanny Ma. She will lie peacefully in the Hall with her family so those people who care about her can come and visit her here. Older students: Some of you may want to visit Nanny Ma and you are welcome to do so after school with your mum or dad. To show our respect for her we all need to keep well away from the school hall until after Wednesday when she will travel to her home marae at Whangaparaoa on the East Coast.

To respect the tikanga of the tangihanga, the deck around the hall will be cordoned off.  The pathway leading from the hall to the court opposite R19 and a pathway from Gate C will be marked by greenery and will be used  by manuhiri (visitors) coming to pay their respects to Nanny Ma.

The community are still able to access the school via Gate C and D but we ask you to avoid the pathway leading to the Hall entrance. Please access the lower school through Pohutukawa Park, the top courts or Gate D

The school day will operate as normal; however we will ring no bells from 1.30pm today until Nanny Ma leaves the grounds.  The After School Care programme will relocate to the PA and Technology rooms and parents can pick children up using Gate C.

No classes, apart from Nga Uri O Nga Iwi classes, will be formally attending the tangihanga.  For those wishing to pay their respects to Nan and her whanau, arrangements will be made for groups of teachers, parents and students to be taken into the hall after school hours on Monday and Tuesday from 3.30pm.

Please meet by the boulders at the top of the path leading to the Hall if you wish to be welcomed on at this time. Finally any donations of food (sandwiches, savouries, cakes etc.) to offer guests during the tangihanga would be greatly appreciated. These can be delivered straight to the new front hall entrance up the stairs on Larchwood Avenue.

Thank you for your support in this- it is a real privilege for our community to be able to honour Nanny Ma’s life in this way,

Kind Regards

Carolyn Marino Principal                                               

Jane Cooper Kaiako: Nga Uri O Nga Iwi