A Teacher with a
Mrs Marewa McConnell, who has just been appointed head teacher of the Ahipara Maori School near Kaitaia, a grade five school of 201 pupils, is perhaps the first Maori woman to achieve a position of this kind.
Mrs McConnell was born at Rapaki on the Lyttelton Harbour, and is a member of the Ngai Tahu tribe. She is the elder daughter of the late Eruera and Hana Manihera, and is the granddaughter of the late Hone Taare Tikao, a Ngai Tahu chief of Canterbury and Banks Peninsula renown.
For a time she was a pupil teacher at the Lyttelton District High School, and she also attended Canterbury University as a part-time student. She trained at the Christchurch Teachers' Training College and was a member of the students' executive council in her senior year.
When she had finished her training at the high school she became a sole teacher at the Port Levy School and later at the Rapaki School, both on the Lyttelton Harbour.
In 1935 Mrs McConnell became infant mistress at the Wai-iti Maori School at Lake Rotoit [ unclear: ] .
She married Mr C. A. McConnell, and when the Second World War came, she and her young son returned to her home at Rapaki, where she taught throughout the war years.
Taught at Horoera
In 1946 she and her husband were appointed to the Horoera Maori School, a small two-teacher school situated between Te Araroa and the East Cape. Mrs McConnell was the head teacher of the school, which had a roll of 45 and was then one of the most isolated schools in the East Cape district.
In 1950, when Mr McConnell had completed his training at Ardmore College with the first intake of special teacher trainees, he and Mrs McConnell were appointed to the Paparore Maori School, north of Kaitaia. Today this is
Mrs McConnell is a member of the Kaitaia College Board of Governors.
She is known throughout New Zealand as an arts and crafts specialist, along with Mrs M. Isaacs, of Orouta Maori School. They work with Maori arts specialists wherever courses are held.
With her appointment to the Ahipara Maori School, which has a pre-school department of 25 four-year-olds, Mrs McConnell will be extremely busy. Her new staff consists of Mrs P. Nathan, Miss Abbott, Miss Cave, Miss F. Berghan, Miss P. Subritsky, Mr D. Albert, and Mrs M. Dawson.
She has three children, the eldest of whom is Riri, 26, a corporal in the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Her daughter Hui-a-re [ unclear: ] , 20, recently married Mr Peter Wilkinson, jr., of Kaitaia. She is a teacher at Kaitaia Primary School. Her youngest son, Terence, 17, is a pupil at Kaitaia College.
Mrs McConnell is also an excellent dance pianist, and for years has been a leading figure in orchestras and social musical occasions.