By: Amy Diamond

Carol Ann Ngawati has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Photo / Amy Diamond

Carol Ann Ngawati: Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Carol Ngawati says the achievements she has made throughout her life have always been for the betterment and wellness of Māori.

Her achievements, which include co-founding the Waitākere Māori Touch and Māori Touch New Zealand organisations, have been about “doing the right thing”.

That is why Ngawati, of Ngāti Porou descent, has been acknowledged in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to sport, education and Māori.

Ngawati, who works as an education manager for the Ministry of Education, relocated to Tauranga two years ago to be closer to her family. She achieved a lot during her time living in West Auckland.

The Māori Touch New Zealand organisation, which has been running since 1998, was created by Ngawati to develop and promote Māori achievement through the medium of touch rugby.

Many of her endeavours were co-founded with her late husband, Gerard Ngawati, of Ngāti Hine descent.

“This honour really is a tribute to him and my family,” she says.

The Ngawati family is truly a “touch family,” Ngawati says, sitting on the couch of her Matua home.

She, her husband and their three daughters have all played the touch rugby and many other sports codes.

Ngawati played a key role in giving New Zealand Māori teams the opportunity to participate in international competition through the establishment of the World Indigenous Touch Competition.

Ngawati’s contribution to education has also been a driving force behind her Queen’s Birthday Honour.

She was instrumental in establishing a bilingual Māori/English unit at Ranui Primary School in West Auckland and is the co-founder of He Wero o Nga Wahine, a school and support facility for young mothers to continue their education.

Ngawati says a common thread through everything she has been involved with has always had the wellness of wahine at its core.

“I come from a background of strong and well women. It’s about ensuring our whakapapa is well and that is always done through the women.”

Ngawati says she was “taken aback” when she first received the news but she was proud the initiatives she created with her husband had stood the test of time.

“I’m not involved with many of these organisations any more but it’s good to see people value most of what we’ve done and have carried that on.”

Carol Ngawati’s other achievements

  • Trustee of the Black Pearl Trust, which established the Black Pearl Awards to celebrate Māori women making a difference in health and the community.
  • Development of a Mana Wahine Day forum for secondary schools in Auckland
  • Chairwoman of the Waitākere Education Sector Trust
  • Chairwoman of the Resource Teachers Learning and Behaviour Māori Caucus and Hoani Waititi Marae Trust.

Source: NZ Herald

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