Māori Party Co-leader, Marama Fox, has expressed her sadness at the passing of Stuart Panapa, QSM, of Ruahapia Marae.
“The whole of Ikaroa Rawhiti loves this man,” says Mrs Fox.
“He has spent a life supporting our rangatahi, passing on his love for te reo rangatira in a variety of roles around schools in Hastings and Napier; the most recent being Mangateretere School,” she says.
“Success mattered to Matua Stuart; he saw the magic of mātauranga – education and schooling – as a foundation for improving the lives of Māori.”
Stuart was chairman of St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College Parent Teacher Association from 1979 to 1982 and served on boards of trustees for several schools for 28 years.
Earlier this year he was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for his services to Māori and education.
Mrs Fox says his influence extended past his role as a teacher and community volunteer.
Stuart held various positions within the Waipatu Māori Catholic Club since joining the club at the age of 14 in 1948. He was chairman, the current treasurer and in 67 years hasn’t missed a single annual meeting. Mr Panapa was a representative for Ruahapia Marae on the Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga board and a trustee on the marae committee since 1976. He was also vice-chairman of the Light House Trust from 2003 to 2005 and chairman of the Community Organisation Grants Scheme from 1995 to 2004.
“When it became clear that Stuart may not have time to receive his QMS we tried to have this honour presented to him prior to his passing. Sadly this was not to be the case,” says Mrs Fox.
His whānau will receive the QMS on his behalf at a ceremony in September.
“This will a fitting tribute to his life’s work.
“One of the things this koroua did which has touched so many lives, was to create a community garden in Ruahapia and deliver vegetables to local families. This was the spirit of generosity, the practice of giving that characterised the man. Our sympathies and aroha are shared with all the whanau, hapū and iwi who mourn the passing of such a key figure in their community,” says Mrs Fox.