‘Great friend’ passes away

REMEBERING: Maori elder and "great friend" of Linwood North School Peter Mason has passed away after a battle with cancer.

A Maori elder and prominent member of the Linwood North School community has passed away after a battle with cancer.

Principal Sandra Smith said Peter Mason was “down to earth” with a “wicked sense of humour.”

Mr Mason passed away “peacefully” at his home at the age of 75 last week.

He was the school’s kaumātua, or elder, and a “great friend” of the school, said Ms Smith.

“He has provided us all with genuine, wise, cultural supervision and guidance over the years. We loved his child-friendly advice around tikanga, his sense of humour and his wisdom around the implementation of appropriate school pōwhiri protocol,” she said.

Tikanga, a Maori concept with a wide range of meanings including, culture, custom and etiquette, generally refers to the ‘Maori way of doing things.’

Recently, he officiated the school’s 110th anniversary and the new hall’s opening celebrations.

“Our favourite memory of Koro Pete will be him happily singing and dancing his way down the hall to Poi E at the end of our dress rehearsal for the celebrations,” said Ms Smith.

In spite of being unwell, Ms Smith said he “soldiered on.”

“Koro Pete was a man small in stature, but great in mana and dignity. In his later years he gave so much of his cultural knowledge and advice to many organisations and trusts,” she said.

He became the school’s kaumātua following the closure of Richmond School in 2013, where he had served on the board of trustees.

Previously, he was a Maori adviser for the Department of Labour from 1987 to 1992.

He also had the title of facilitator at Connections Nga Kete E Rua Ltd, a company directed by himself and his wife, Linley.

It provides networking and liaison services for communities and individuals in tikanga and bi-cultural practices.

Ms Smith said Mr Mason will always be remembered for his “beautiful story-telling” to pupils and by his whakataukī, a Maori proverb.

What is the most important thing in the world? It is the children, it is the children, it is the children.”

He aha te mea nui o te Ao? He tamriki, he tamariki, he tamariki.”