Ngā Ringa Raupā - Carol Ngāwati

Tonight's Matariki hero hails from Ngāti Porou.  She's been involved in education for 32 years and always fought for and found innovative ways for Māori to succeed in education, sport and health.  

The education advocate set up the first primary school bilingual unit in West Auckland at Ranui Primary.  

Along with her late husband Gerrard, Carol Ngāwati started Māori Touch NZ and still runs the Māori Touch Tournament 20 years on.

Ngāwati explains, "I became a teacher to help my family I didn't have Māori education as my own upbringing and I feel like I missed out with te reo and all the things that came with that.

My teaching career started at the same time as Kōhanga Reo and the renaissance of Kura Kaupapa and learning Ataarangi and being a part of that has really been the driver.

We just decided to call a hui in Taupō and we put it out on the radio station and whoever would listen to us, and we asked everyone what they wanted so we created this huge list and that's what touch became.

It was such a whānau/iwi-orientated sport everywhere you went there were Māori everywhere especially at the beginning and we never knew 20 years ago just how much that was going to have impact.

I guess Māori touch was having something at the world stage it wasn't just about playing a few games on the back paddock, it was about bringing the elements of being competitive, being Māori and being able to develop iwi through the game.

Education can change people's lives because they can get a better quality of life and think who they are. And they take that in their kete of learning to the world that's where non-Maori are valued equally alongside Western knowledge.

When Māori is valued and recognised alongside non-Māori on the sports field and in an education institution I think that's where they're able to practice bi-culturalism and the principles of the treaty.

Being Māori is an advantage of same opportunities and same resources we all have opportunities to be successful.

I feel warmth from being Māori now that i know i didn't feel like as a young person."