Plunket is saddened this week by the passing of Te Ao Marama Wilson, who dedicated much of her life to supporting communities and improving the health of tamariki as part of Plunket.
Haere atu ra e te whaea, hoki atu ki o maunga kārangaranga me o tīpuna haere atu ra, haere atu Moe mai ra.
Te Ao Marama Wilson has closed her eyes for the last time on this Earth. We have been blessed to have her as part of Plunket.
You will be missed.
She supported the staff in their work.
She was a taonga.
- Hera Black, Plunket Māori Chief Advisor
Remembering Te Ao Marama
Te Ao Marama first became part of Plunket in 1987, through her long involvement with the Māori Women’s Welfare League. She broke new ground, becoming one of Plunket’s first Kaiāwhina in 1991 based in Papatoetoe, and later taking on a series of national governance roles.
Plunket’s Chief Executive Amanda Malu remembers and honours Te Ao Marama’s contribution: “Te Ao Marama is a treasured part of Plunket, and we are deeply saddened by her passing. Our thoughts and condolences are with her family at this time. We remember her for her belief in improving the health and wellbeing of Māori tamariki, and for her welcoming and supportive approach which was highly valued by everyone who knew her. Her contribution to communities was significant, and we feel honoured that she chose to dedicate so much of her time and passion to Plunket.”
Former Plunket Clinical Services Manager Louise Troy worked alongside Te Ao Marama for several years in Papatoetoe, and remembers her for her natural leadership: “In many ways she was a visionary. She supported families by home visiting and running groups and was always looking for ways to better engage with Māori whānau. She took a lead role in getting one of the first Plunket buses to transport parents and children to groups. She supported staff as well as families, and at one point ran regular Waiata sessions. She became the unofficial leader of the Kaiāwhina and demonstrated leadership in all that she did.”
Te Ao Marama then moved into governance roles, joining the Māori Caucus to represent the Tainui area in 2002 and being elected as a Māori Board Member in 2006 and the National Board from 2004 to 2012. She then became an Area Board member inCounties Manukau when there were too few volunteers to sustain a quorum, helping to keep community services going and returning to her roots.
Stephanie Shennan, Plunket’s Community Services Leader, remembers Te Ao Marama’s groundbreaking approach: “She was always trying to create opportunities to improve outcomes for Māori children. At times this must have been frustrating for her when Plunket wasn’t brave enough. Some of her brave ideas did progress such as the Plunket bus being used at night to provide contraception to street girls in Papatoetoe.”
Plunket Chief Executive Amanda Malu said: “We’re proud to have worked alongside Te Ao Marama. Her contribution lives on through the impact she had on families and communities, through Plunket and through other community organisations.”