Sadly, Waireti Walters, of Te Paatu, Ngāti Kahu, Te Aupōuri and wider Muriwhenua iwi descent, passed away today surrounded by whānau at her Pamapuria home on the outskirts of Kaitaia.
She was one of the first Māori community health workers and worked in the health sector from the late 1970s right up until mid 2000s.
Waireti had a history in Māori Health Promotion that included cervical screening, cot death, sexual health and breast screening.
Waireti also set up healthcare facilities such as the Whānau Room at the National Women’s Hospital and the Te Whare Rapuora service based in Glen Innes.
In 1998, she was awarded a Queen’s Service Honour for her services to the community.
She was a keen advocate for Māori rights and daughter Lisa McNab says her mother had hoped to attend the 40th Year Commemoration of the Hikoi Whenua Māori held at Te Unga Waka Marae in Epsom, Auckland recently but due to her declining health she could not attend.
Recently she was interviewed by Te Kāea, Māori Television at the Kaitaia Airport Protest earlier this month, and was recorded saying, “The land here belongs to my ancestor Timoti Popata of the Takuere clan. So I must make a stand and be arrested.”
Waireti, aged 81 years old, suffered from pneumonia. She is survived by her three children and many mokopuna and great-grand mokopuna.
Waireti Walters will lie at Te Paatu Marae in Pamapuria. Moe mai rā e te mareikura.