Honour recognises half century of work

By Victoria White

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HONOUR: St Joseph's Maori Girls College principal Georgina Kingi, QSO, will be made a dame companion for services to Maori and education. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
HONOUR: St Joseph's Maori Girls College principal Georgina Kingi, QSO, will be made a dame companion for services to Maori and education. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

For nearly half a century, Hawke's Bay's newest dame has been ensuring Maori girls receive quality education.

St Joseph's Maori Girls College principal Georgina Kingi, QSO, will be made a dame companion for services to Maori and education.

She is one of three women in New Zealand to be made a dame in the New Year Honours.

Another 11 people from Hawke's Bay, or with ties to the region, have also been recognised in the honours, announced today.

Those being made officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit are former Tararua mayor Roly Ellis for services to local government, Justine Kidd of Takapau for services to dairy and equestrian, Rerekohu Robertson for her services to Maori, and Gaylene Sciascia for services to dance.

Five people were made members of the New Zealand order of Merit, they were, Kay Baxter for her services to conservation and sustainable food production, Ross Brown for services to education, Sergeant Sue Guy and Sergeant Susan Robinson for services to police and youth, and Dr Donald McDonald for services to rowing.

While two people were awarded the Queen's Service Medal, Basil Brooker for services to music, and Napier Community Patrol founder Sandra Ibbotson for services to community.

For Miss Kingi, being made a dame was "humbling".

"It is an honour to receive it," she said.

"I feel humbled about the whole situation, and a bit overwhelmed."

The Hastings resident has spent a vast majority of her life at the Greenmeadows school - she was a student there during her secondary school years, and returned in 1969 to begin teaching the next generation of girls.

She has been its principal since 1987.

The small boarding school - with a maximum roll of 260 - was established in 1867 to "provide holistic education" to young Maori girls.

This has been carried on, with te reo and tikanga Maori key to the curriculum.

Under Miss Kingi's leadership, the school has continued working to ensure its pupils - girls from every iwi in New Zealand - "leave confident in Te Ao Maori and equally confident in Ao Pakeha".

"Maori and Catholic values underpin everything we do", she said, which gave the bilingual school a "dual special character".

Miss Kingi said it had always been important the girls "own reo", and values were maintained.

"The girls are Maori and live their tikanga as well as being educated in Pakehatanga - this provides another perspective to their education."

Her honour stated Miss Kingi had "worked to ensure the provision of quality education, and the teaching of te reo and tikanga Maori in the school".

Asked if she felt she was ensuring this continued at the school, Miss Kingi said: "I would like to think that every year brings great achievement, especially for school leavers who have achieved their individual goals - with most continuing on to university and tertiary institutions."

St Joseph's was rated the top girls' school in Hawke's Bay in 2012.

The principal is also heavily involved with St Joseph's senior kapa haka team, which has performed nationally and internationally.

As well as her work within school grounds, Miss Kingi has been involved heavily with education, and Maori groups.

She is a licensed Maori interpreter, a foundation member and former chairwoman of the Hawke's Bay Maori Language Association, and has been a representative on the Maori syllabus committee.

She has also been a member of several principals associations since the 1980s and the Hawke's Bay Catholic District Council.

In 2014, Miss Kingi was a member of the Education Expert Panel for the Prime Minister's Education Excellence Awards in 2014 and led the planning for the national Nga Manu Korero speech competition.

She also has a presence in the community, being an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Taradale, which has been involved in several partnerships with St Joseph's.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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