Dannevirke kaumātua Manahi Paewai has taken on a new role as cultural adviser to Rangitāne iwi.

For more than a decade Paewai has been fulfilling this cultural adviser role as one of Rangitāne's most respected kaumātua, but part-time, while holding down a full-time teaching position at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Tāmaki Nui a Rua.

His role in Māoridom, even part-time, was significant enough for him to be named a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Māori in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours.

Paewai was recognised for his efforts helping to set up Te Rūnanganui o Rangitāne and Rangitāne o Tāmaki Nui a Rua, subsequently leading the claim for the latter before the Waitangi Tribunal.

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With his retirement from teaching, Paewai can now work full time as a cultural and political adviser with Mike Kawana of Masterton.

Paewai was raised at Kaitoki and with his parents instilling in him the culture and language, he was fluent in te reo Māori by the time he went to Te Aute College as a boarder.

The school continued to instil those values, as well as providing a good education and developing his rugby skills.

After "testing out the world" in Hastings, Paewai returned to Dannevirke and became a shearer.

After a 20-year career he then answered a call to train as a teacher of te reo in 1989.

Several years at Awatapu College was followed by eight years at Te Aute. Paewai moved to Te Kura o Tamaki Nui a Rua in 2000 to start a new secondary department.
After 19 years, he retired on July 5.

"It was time to move over and give the younger ones a go," he said.

Speaking last week, Te Kura O Tamaki Nui a Rua principal Brian Paewai said Manahi
Paewai's contribution to the school was enormous.

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"Manahi set the foundation stones rock-solid, leaving values and an imprint which will never be lost.

"He created a platform to allow his students to elevate to a new level and the results are past pupils in career paths all over the world as well as promoting te reo at home."

In his new role, Paewai will be partly promoting te reo and its cultural aspects and partly fulfilling social and cultural support roles with iwi members.

He will also carry out ceremonial functions such as the blessing for the induction of the new Tararua District Council.

He will also advise on issues like Te Ahu a Tūrangaa – Manawatū-Tararua Highway.

While he says he misses the students and teachers, he is finding his new roles both interesting and satisfying.

He also has a little more time to develop his block of land on Cowper Rd with wife Atanetta and the rest of the whānau.