Ngāi Tahu women recognised in New Year Honours

Ao kau ana te pupuhi o haumihi, o haumiha, ki ngā uri o Tahu, i eke ki ngā ikeikenga o ngā whakamānawa ā te Kuini. Aoraki Matatū!

Four Ngāi Tahu women have been recognised for their outstanding service to Māori and the community in the Queen’s 2018 New Year Honours.

Suzanne Ellison (Kāti Huirapa ki Puketeraki) has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Māori, the arts and governance; Donna Matahaere-Atariki (Ōtākou) has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Māori and health; Sarah Mihiroa Reo (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rangituhia, Ngai Tahu, Taranaki) has been named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Māori and education, and Frances Ina (Francie) Diver (Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Taumutu, Ōtākou) was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community.

“This recognition for these remarkable women is well deserved and a testament to the huge contribution they have made, and continue to make, to whānau, hapū and iwi and within their communities and nationally,” says Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai.

Suzanne Ellison is an iwi manager and researcher who has made a long-standing contribution to community development and culture and heritage.

Suzanne began working in 1990 for the former Ngāi Tahu Maori Trust Board,  and after 1997 for the Ngāi Tahu Development Corporation. She was the Arts and Heritage Manager and spent 10 years in senior management. She chairs the Board of the Ngāi Tahu Fund, which funds local and national initiatives such as traditional art workshops, environmental revitalisation projects, and investigations into whānau whakapapa and history to strengthen Ngāi Tahu culture. She is a member of the Arts Council of Aotearoa New Zealand and previously served two terms as a member of Te Waka Toi, the Māori Arts Board of Creative New Zealand. She has previously been a member of the organising committee for Te Māori: Te Hokianga Mai at Otago Museum, a member of the Christchurch Arts Festival Trust Board, and as a Trustee of the Southern Lakes Festival of Colour Trust. Ms Ellison is also a former member of the Otago Māori Executive, the Permanent External Advisory Committee to the Arts School at Otago Polytechnic, the Otago University Māori Affairs Board, and the Well Dunedin Primary Health Organisation.

Donna Matahaere-Atariki has contributed to the health and education of Māori for more than 20 years and has represented Māori at a national level in a range of public forums.

In her early career Donna taught at the University of Otago prior to being Education Manager at the Ngāi Tahu Development Corporation and Executive Officer in the office of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. In 2007 she was Executive Director and a founding Trustee of the Dunedin-based integrated health, education and social services provider Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora. From 2012 to 2014 she was Chief Executive of He Oranga Pounamu, the former Ngāi Tahu health subsidiary. Donna is a former member of the National Strategy Group for Early Childhood Education, the National Strategy Group for Race Relations, and the Ministry of Social Development’s National Advisory Council for Families and Community Services. She has been a member of a number of MSD taskforces including the National Taskforce on Family Violence. She is representative for the Māori health sector on the Ministry of Health’s NGO Council. Donna is Chair of Te Rūnaka o Ōtākou, a Trustee of Well South Health Network, University of Otago Council member, and a Trustee of Te Whare Pounamu, her local women’s refuge.

Francie Diver has been involved in community and Māori health services within Central Otago for more than 35 years as an advisor, coordinator, and Board member of more than 20 organisations.

Francie serves as tangata whenua representative to Central Otago Health Inc., is a director of the free Māori healthcare provider Uruuruwhenua Health, and is Chair of the Central Otago Child Care and Protection Resource Committee. She founded the Te Ao Huri whānau group which supports families with mental illness. She has held voluntary leadership and governance roles with charities and local government initiatives in the Otago region, including the Central Otago District Committee of Creative Arts New Zealand and SPARC’s Community Sport Fund, the Central Otago Rural Education Activities Programme, the Schizophrenia Fellowship, Women’s Refuge, and the Central Otago Ecological Trust’s Mokomoko Sanctuary Project. Francie is a deputy community member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal and a member of the Otago Conservation Board. She was the presiding member of the Otago/Southland Lottery Community Committee. At a national level Ms Diver was a director of the former Crown Research Institute Crop and Food Research Ltd and was a member of the National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women.

Sarah Reo is the co-founder of education provider Cultureflow, established in 2002, which developed innovative methods of delivering Te Reo and Tikanga Māori training programmes to encourage the uptake of Māori language amongst a new generation of learners. Cultureflow programmes are delivered throughout New Zealand to public and private sector organisations, not-for-profit groups, and tertiary institutes using a mixture of software, classes and one-on-one training. In 2006 Sarah co-founded Cultureflow China to use these technologies to deliver English language programmes in China. Cultureflow won Best Regional Business (Wellington) at the 2003 Māori Women’s Development Inc. awards, whilst also receiving the Westpac Chamber of Commerce Award in 2009.

Sarah has contributed to Māori housing projects, mentoring programmes for young women, and employment programmes for the unemployed. She is also a Fulbright Platinum-Triangle Business Scholar, graduating in 2017 with an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Hawaii.