Sally-Ann Roberts (Ngāti Hinemihi, Ngāti Pikiao, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāpuhi), was returned to her beloved marae Hinemihi of Ngāti Hinemihi and Ngāti Tarāwhai in Rotorua today.
More than 500 people packed the marae as she was carried on by friends and family.
“It is without a doubt her kapa Tūhourangi Ngāti Wahiao, along with family and friends, are in mourning for the loss of a leader of their group”, said Anaha Hiini, spokesperson for the bereaved family.
Brought back home to be laid to rest by friends & whānau.
Known by most as Hereana, Roberts travelled to Rarotonga with Tūhourangi-Ngāti Wāhiao kapa haka last week for the cultural festival, Te Maeva Nui.
It is understood that Roberts, who only celebrated her 50th birthday last week, collapsed in Rarotonga on Thursday. “Some of the kapa returned and some stayed to look after her during her return. The Kiingitanga were there to help also. Those involved in preparing her to return home did a great job,” Hiini said.
Whānau were quick to offer up any koha required to get her body home but because shops, services and businesses shut on Sundays, her return had to be delayed.
Roberts leaves behind her parents Tom and Miriama Roberts, her brother Troy Roberts, her five children, Shyan, Jahzell, Dekoda, Hoani and Egypt, and her two mokopuna, Anita-Rose (Fatty) and Iyla-Mae as well as her niece and nephews.
Lost 50kg to live her best
Her whānau said she was a loving daughter, a beautiful mother, a mentor, and a devoted tutor of 30 years to her kapa, Tūhourangi-Ngāti Wāhiao. She had a passion for kapa haka, Rotorua basketball for her children and family, a zest for life, and hanging with good friends who inspired her to live her best.
She recently transformed her life shedding more than 50kg and becoming a health instructor at the Rotorua Aquatic Centre. “She was always happy and loved to make people laugh. She was a great performer and her smile - these are some of the memories she will leave behind,” Hiini said.
Roberts will lie at Hinemihi Marae in the eastern suburb of Ngāpuna until Thursday when she will be laid to rest at the Hato Pāora urupā.