Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira
Katerina spent several years teaching Māori language and studying during which time she wrote prolifically. She had a Masters degree in education and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1996.
She was at the forefront of Māori language revival and teaching for many years. Katerina was a Māori Language Commissioner and was also closely involved in Māori Radio for several years.
In 1998 Katerina was awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of her contribution to New Zealand. In 1996 Katerina was awarded the New Zealand Library and Information Association's Pounamu Award for her story Marama Tangiwheto. She spent 1997 as Writer in Residence at the Dunedin College of Education.
Katerina wrote Ngā Mokonui a Rangi and entered the story in the children's section of the 1997 Huia Short Story Awards. The story was chosen as one of the finalists in the Huia Awards and published in a new book of Huia Short Story finalist stories, Ngā Pakiwaitara ma ngā Tamariki.
Huia Publishers invited Katerina to translate her story into English so that Rangi and his Dinosaurs and Ngā Mokonui a Rangi could be illustrated and released as companion books for children to enjoy.
Katerina passed away in July 2011. She will be sadly missed.
Ka ohorere mātou i te rongonga i kapohia a Katerina Te Heikōkō Mataira e te ringa kaha o Aitua. Ka hopo te ngākau, ka hotu te manawa! Koia tērā te manu kōtuku kua maiangi ake, kua ngaro atu i te tirohanga kanohi. Inā kē te maha, te huhua noa o āna tuhinga kōrero i roto i ngā tau, kua waiho mai e ia hei taonga mā ngā tipuranga o muri. Ka tangi te ngākau mōna, mō tōna hoa tāne me tō rāua whānui whānui. Moe mai rā e te whaea i roto i te Ariki.
Sadly, we mourn the loss of Katerina Te Heikōkō Mataira. We acknowledge the tremendous loss that this is, for her whānau and for te ao Māori. Through her untiring devotion to te reo Māori and the kaupapa of language survival, she leaves a body of work that will be enjoyed by future generations of readers.