Topic: Naisie Rihi Elizabeth Ngatoko (1934-1992)
In 1993 the Local History Staff of Tauranga District Libraries (as it was called then) compiled a booklet Mana Wahine highlighting the prominent women in the Tauranga Moana area. This is one of the mini biographies from the booklet. Note that some comments in the text relate to the time of the original publication (1993).
Naisie was born on Matakana Island on 5 March 1934, the second daughter of Luke and Hemoata Murray. Her tribal affiliations were Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri and Ngai Te Rangi. She spent much of her childhood growing up on the island, but later the family moved to Katikati, settling at Rereatukahia.
In 1951, Naisie married Morehu Ngatoko and lived at Huria raising their family of nine children plus a child from Morehu’s first marriage. She saw her role as a wife, mother and, in later years, kuia to be the most important contribution she could make to her whanau, people and community.
It was in the area of education where Naisie was to make her greatest impact and, more specifically, Tikanga Maori through the sharing of knowledge, the teaching of the Maori language and the composition of Waiata Maori (music).
As a founding member of the Ataarangi and Kohanga Reo movements in this region, Naisie’s commitment to these kaupapa remained strong until her untimely passing late last year .
She served on numerous committees and organisations throughout the Moana; Tauranga Maori District Council, The Popata Tawhito, The Tauranga Moana Ataarangi Committee, Ngati Ranginui Iwi, Huria Kohanga Reo, Takitimu Waka and Ngati Ranginui Junior Culture Group.
It was with this last group, Ngati Ranginui Junior Culture Group, that Naisie’s heart lay. As an advisor and composer to the group since 1989, her deep love of Maori culture, especially kapahaka, showed the talents that were to become her hallmark. In 1992, Naisie’s contribution to the group finally led them to winning the Hauraki Junior Cultural Championship.
That beautiful voice that for so many years has called the manuhiri on to the marae is now stilled, but the memory will remain in the hearts of all who have heard that call.