Hardworking kuia reaffirms the importance of kaumātua in the community

By Jessica Tyson

It’s no secret that kaumātua are the ones that really hold our community together.

Anne Matekino Watson of Ngāti Pāhauwera, Ngāti Kahungunu is a perfect example of a kuia working hard to support whānau in her community.

Teaching tamariki, looking after mokopuna and organising a kaumātua ball in Foxton, Manawatū, over the weekend are just some of her activities keeping her busy.

"It was a first for me. I wanted to give them something, instead of sitting on the marae where they do tangihanga, where they go and visit people and so I thought it would be a good thing to have a kaumatua ball and do it for them...Some of them don’t come out at all. It’s been a big task, it’s been a lot of challenges but we overcame those challenges.”

Watson moved to Foxton over 30 years ago.

“The gang problem was high. Our mokopuna were targeted but then I saw it in another light, where I actually taught their children in the kōhanga.”

Today she is the person to call if anyone needs someone for karakia, christening, or someone to talk to.

“That is just who I am and when you're brought up like that from old people you tend to keep that installed within you. I never grew up with my own age group. I was always amongst elderly so my ways become elderly.”

Watson also has three tamariki and six mokopuna of her own.

“I have three kapa haka granddaughters. I have a granddaughter that dances in highland dancing. They bring so much inspiration, my mokopunas to me.”

But she's frightened for the next generation.

“Why am I frightened? It’s because there’s a big wide world out there and it is full of different technology and its beautiful technology but some of it is not so good," she says.

“You know the old thing or going to see one another. It’s all text message. It’s all Facebook. But the biggest thing is going kanohi ki te kanohi.”

Her biggest hope for the future for te ao Māori is for mokopuna to know more about where they’re from.

“Installing our reo back in our mokopuna, knowing who they are, knowing who they are and where they come from.”

With the love of our kaumatua, mokopuna are sure to strive.