Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Pride nominee devoted life to teaching kids

Chemistry teacher continued to give lessons while undergoing chemotherapy treatment

Roshni Gounder.
Roshni Gounder.

Apopular high school teacher who continued to give lessons and extra tutorials in between chemotherapy appointments has lost her battle with cancer.

Roshni Gounder, a long-time chemistry teacher at Otahuhu College, died early on Sunday. She was 59.

Mrs Gounder is well-known in secondary school-level science circles, having completed a Master of Science education at the University of Auckland. As a result, her expert understanding of the principles of chemistry and how to teach it effectively to students has been used by high schools around the country.

She was also a national marker in the subject and helped to establish Otahuhu College's Health Science Academy.

Principal Neil Watson said losing Mrs Gounder, who had been at the school for 14 years, had hit staff hard - but especially students. She was fiercely determined to get students ahead and pushed for them to attend extra tutorials over sports practices if need be.

"Her energy and passion for her students and her classes filled every room she was in. Only three weeks ago we were talking about junior science and what needs to be done next year.

"She was always thinking about how we can do better - how we as teachers can lift our students to even higher levels."

Earlier this month, Mrs Gounder was featured in the Herald as a nominee in the inaugural Pride of New Zealand Awards. Her senior chemistry class nominated their "Mama G" in the Community Spirit category as she had been running after-school and weekend tutorials - between chemotherapy and hospital appointments - to help them get better marks.

Student Simote Tuifua said seeing their teacher's struggles only pushed them to do better.

"We all felt the burden when we heard about our Mama G."

Mrs Gounder told the newspaper at the time that staying home only made her feel worse.

"It makes me happy [going to school]. I was at home one day and I just got up and thought: 'No, I have to go back to school. My kids need me'."

Mama G will be farewelled today at a service in Wiri, Manukau.


Community loss
• Roshni Gounder, a long-time chemistry teacher at Otahuhu College, died early on Sunday. She was 59.
• Mrs Gounder continued to give lessons while receiving chemotherapy and had been at the school for 14 years.
• She was a nominee in the inaugural Pride of New Zealand Awards.

- NZ Herald

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