On May 2, 2008 Miriama Te Ahipuia Kahu (nee Solomon) died suddenly following a car accident on the inland route near Mt Lyford. She leaves behind her husband, Spencer, seven children and 30 grandchildren.
In just 62 years Miriama has served her community, whanau, hapu and iwi as well as her church in numerous ways.
As a member of Ngati Kuri she lived whanaungatanga. She was committed to living through the tikanga and kawa that her culture demanded which, in a predominately pakeha community, required integrity and courage.
She supported and encouraged her children to become active members of the hapu alongside her.
Miriama was involved in setting up Te Kohanga Reo in Kaikoura, and in the construction of Takahanga Marae, and she established Te Tai o Marokura Health and Social Service and Ariama Cultural Retreat Centre. In 1987 her whanau and four others mortgaged their homes for finance to establish Whale Watch Kaikoura in the hope that business development would help alleviate Māori unemployment.
Miri was a visionary and a risk-taker. Sitting on school boards and government agencies, she was closely involved with the police and other agencies committed to addressing issues of drug and alcohol abuse. During her tangi many young people stood to pay their respects and thank Miriama for believing in them despite their behaviour. Her trust in them had enabled them to turn their lives around.
She was proud to be Catholic and relied on prayer and scripture to inspire her actions. She was committed to justice and in the late 1980s she worked with Fr John Curnow running social analysis workshops in Aotearoa and overseas. She established relationships with many religious and priests in Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific as a result. She also served as delegate to Te Runanga o Te Hahi Katorika Ki Aotearoa for the archdiocese. Her daughter, Janamaka Kahu follows her in this.
Miriama believed in educating people for life and to this end she led by example. She was a qualified alcohol and drug counsellor; she held a social work diploma, a degree in psychology and, at the time of her death, was studying for a PhD in resource management. She insisted that professional training for health and social service staff was mandatory, being acutely aware of the level of scrutiny that M%u0101ori service providers incur from government agencies and the general population.
Her five-day tangi welcomed hundreds of Māori and pakeha from the government, church, iwi, and the local community. Her extensive networking over years of commitment to faith, health and justice was apparent in the numbers that came to honour this distinguished taua, this wahine toa, this woman of faith.
Moe mai e hoa i tou moenga roa.
Tui Cadigan RSM is of Waitaha, Ngati Mamoe, Poutini Ngai Tahu descent and is on Te Rununga o Te Hahi Katorika Ki Aotearoa.