Kathleen Hemi (1925 - 2010), known to many as Aunty Kath, died on the 22nd November 2010 at her Blenheim home. She was 85.
Ms Hemi was awarded a Queen's Service Medal in 1986 for her contribution to the community, and during her lifetime was involved in more than 40 community organisations, groups and projects around the region.
She was chairwoman of Omaka Marae, helped set up the Omaka Maori Women's Welfare League, was founder and a trustee of Te Rapuora Health Services and was involved with the Ngati Apa Trust.
She was the only remaining member of the Ngati Apa group that launched a claim under the Treaty of Waitangi about 17 years ago. She signed the final part of the settlement in her bed at Wairau Hospital, in Blenheim.
Ms Hemi was a key fundraiser and founder in 1985 of Omaka Marae.
Kiley Nepia described Ms Hemi as a loving person who was driven, focused and determined.
"She's a fighter and she has those qualities of a leader. We liken her to being the matriarch of our family and tribe, and definitely of the iwi. We have a bit of a saying that she's the last of the Mohicans, because she's one of the few people left from that generation that really held true to our Maori values."
Education, social issues and welfare were dear to her. She represented Maori at conferences in Samoa, Tonga, Rarotonga, Tahiti, London, Singapore and Malaysia.
Reproduced as part of Women's Suffrage display panel by Marlborough Museum and Archives.
Sources used in this story
- Connell, Claire (2010, Nov 22) Kathleen Hemi, leader. Marlborough Express
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Further sources - Kathleen Hemi
- Brown, M. (2018, Seo 17) Modern Leader made history from hospital bed. Stuff: