By 1951 Whina Cooper had packed into her 56 years more experiences than most people would cram into a lifetime.
In Hokianga she had been by turns a teacher, farmer, businesswoman, protester and community leader.
When she joined the Maori migration to the cities her great talents and energy were recognised when she was elected founding president of the Maori Women's Welfare League.
Thanks in large part to Cooper's efforts the league grew in five years to have more than 4000 members and 300 branches, a powerful pressure group tackling problems of housing, education and health.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Her role in public life continued into the 1970s; as well as being known as the Mother of the Nation, she was made a dame in 1981 and a member of the Order of New Zealand in 1991.
Now, in retrospect, she is our New Zealander of the Year for 1951.
Biography of Whina Cooper, Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand