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No. 7 (Summer 1954)
– 11 –


The exciting post of secretary to the Assistant Director of the Royal Tour, advertised in 1951, drew a large number of applications, some from specially recommended Public Service stenographers. The choice fell on then 19-year-old Whetu Marama Tirikatene.

In spite of her youth, she had all the qualities for the job—ability, appearance, deportment and personality. In stenography Whetu had passed the highest Public Service Stenographers' Examinations (called the Special examination) with a shorthand speed of 150 words a minute, and a typing speed of at least 55 words a minute. She had done her Junior Chamber of Commerce Examination (in 5 subjects), Senior Chamber of Commerce and, of course, University Entrance. That she was one of the Dominion's four top women in the graceful sport of fencing, holder of the New Zealand Latin-American amateur ballroom dancing title—along with her Australian partner, Kevin Mansfield—and also did fashion modelling, would bear out her qualifications in appearance and deportment. And Whetu's personality and charm had been easily detected in a previous interview.

So, as well equipped as one could wish, this talented young lady was seconded from her position at R.N.Z.A.F. Headquarters to the Royal Tour Office of the Department of Internal Affairs.

On December 23 of this year, Whetu Tirikatene—now 21—was one of New Zealand's official party to be presented to the Queen. As if this were not thrill enough for any young British subject, Whetu then travelled around New Zealand as a member of the Royal entourage.

It is indeed gratifying to know that, whilst Whetu has had time to accomplish all this—as well as, at stages in her 21 years, take lessons in piano, violin and ‘cello playing, and

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Miss Whetu Tirakatene

many forms of dancing; gain her driver's licence, and design and make most of her clothes—her parents, the Hon. E. T. Tirikatene (M.P. for Southern Maori) and Mrs Tirikatene, have trained her in all phases of Maori culture. Even in her very early’ teens, Whetu was the first to give the traditional ‘Karanga’ to the Maori Battalion on the occasion of their arrival in the South Island after the cessation of hostilities, when, in the absence of her mother, she accompanied her father at the welcoming ceremony. Also, in similar fashion, Whetu led the Maori welcome to the overseas delegates to the Pan-Pacific Women's Conference, brandishing a patu with grace and dignity as she supported her father's presentation of the performing of the wero.

Both the North and South Islands can claim a part of Whetu's geneology; Ngati-Kahungunu, on her mother's side, for the North, and Ngaitahu, on her father's side, for the South.

Kia ora a Hine!