Friends and whanau say Joan Kennett will be fondly remembered for many things, including being an early-childhood pioneer, a model and a foster mother to many children.
She also could have been the voice of the song Blue Smoke, had she had the skill.
Joan, who died earlier this month, was the former wife of Dannevirke-born Ruru Karaitiana.
She met Ruru in Wellington around the time he was gearing up to record the famed Kiwi song, according to her son Ruma.
Ruru wrote the iconic Blue Smoke on the troop ship Aquitania, in 1940 off the coast of Africa, when a friend drew his attention to some passing smoke.
During the war he served in the Middle East with the 28th New Zealand Māori Battalion.
Joan, then Joan Chettleburgh, had moved from Dunedin to Wellington to undertake nursing training.
"That hadn't worked out particularly, so she took a job in a clothing factory," Ruma says.
"And did part-time modelling."
By sheer chance, she and a friend Pixie (Williams) had met Ruru at a social function and Pixie went on to sing on the record.
"Dad did ask Mum, but it wasn't her skillset."
Joan moved back to Dunedin, while Ruru had a contact with a show band to play Miss New Zealand shows throughout the country and the two met up again in Dunedin.
"And the rest is history," Ruma says.
They married in 1948 and settled down in Dunedin.
The move to Dannevirke was due to "an unfortunate occurrence when I was born", Ruma says.
His father had sent a telegram to his mother to tell her of his son's birth.
"She sent a telegram back saying 'the boy's name is this', detailing my name and to say 'bring him back home now' and she sent a couple of the uncles down to make sure it happened."
Ruma says his father had returned home to Oringi where he'd started subsistence farming, but like a lot of young men due to what he'd experienced during the war he hadn't been able to handle being back in that environment.
"And being told what to do by a kaumatua and kuia who didn't really have any concept of what they'd been through."
The family moved to the Dannevirke area, but Ruru "was not a happy camper" at being called back.
Joan ended up at Tahoraiti Pa where she learnt Ruma's grandmother intended to whangai him.
Ruma says it was quite a cultural shock for his mother to not only be living on a pa site, but also to discover that her new baby was going to be taken off her to be raised by his grandmother.
"That actually happened but it was quite a gentle version of it."
He says his mum did spend a lot of time at the house in Oringi, so it wasn't as ruthless as it sounded.
It was during that time that Joan began raising two foster children as well.
She would go on to raise 23 foster children, most of whom were Māori .
When Ruma was four, his grandmother died and Ruru took off, leaving Joan alone with the children.
She moved the family to Woodville, where they lived for the next eight years.
When Ruma was 12, his mother remarried and moved to Ashhurst, where she became involved in early childhood education.
She helped start a playcentre there.
"As a result of that, Mum decided she would undertake formal training and start a career in early childhood."
Ruma says she became very concerned about the low level of Māori participation in early childhood education.
She went on to create wananga for not just Māori but also new migrant children.
He says when the kohanga movement popped up she got involved in advocating and mentoring as well as being a facilitator helping kohanga succeed.
"She was certainly driven by her perceptions of inequalities in early childhood, well, in education generally.
"Her strong belief was that if you got the foundations set at early childhood level, the rest of it followed well."
She was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for her work in early childhood education in 2014.
She had been unwell for a short time before she died just short of her 95th birthday.