Haerenga Noa Nicholson (Nanny Noa) has passed away aged 100.

The respected kuia, of Muaupoko (Horowhenua) descent, passed away in Dannevirke on Wednesday with family by her side.

Regarded as a pioneer within Maoridom, Dannevirke in March, with a town ball.

Hawke's Bay Today had reported there was so much aroha surrounding the two-day celebration of her 100th birthday, it enveloped all those who attended.


Nanny Noa Nicholson did not feel 100 – "I feel about 70," she said during the celebrations.

"We have been blessed to have her as a role model in our community" was a sentiment expressed by many attendees, including local iwi, whanau and local Members of Parliament.

At the time, Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis said Nanny Noa has been a champion of whanau, a champion of te reo, culture and a model of aroha.

For Nanny Noa, a respected kuia, family was important. Her living room was lined with pictures of family members and ancestors.

Fluent in te reo, Nanny Noa fiercely defended her language and was respected as the ultimate teacher of Maori language and culture.

Born on March 13, 1919, in Horowhenua, Nanny Noa always lived life to the full.

Nanny Noa's mother was young and she was raised by her grandparents.

With the guidance of her ancestors, Nanny Noa discovered New Zealand's rich flora and fauna.


At 18 she began working for Woppi Hape in woolsheds and it was there she met her husband-to-be, Rhodes Tiwai Nicholson.

She was fluent in Maori by the age of 11.

"My grandparents told me without the language we wouldn't have the land to stand on," she said.

TW Ratana took her with him when he visited marae teaching her the significant landmarks, traditions and trees and embedding a strong Christian faith.

She met her future husband Rhodes Tiwai Nicholson while working in the woolsheds, married and moved to Dannevirke to the house in Robertshawe Crescent she lived until her death.

Raising 10 children Nanny Noa worked as a cook in the old Dannevirke Hospital and Woodville Maternity annex, nevertheless finding time to set up Te Reo classes on her lawn for mums and their children when it was not official policy to promote the language.

She continued the practice which she says "became a habit" for decades visiting schools in Dannevirke, Eketahuna and even travelling all the way to the coast in her little car to teach at Akitio and Pongaroa.

In 2007 Nanny Noa was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for a lifetime of public service, which included setting up a Kohanga Reo on her lawn in Robertshawe Crescent with no outside funding.

Nanny Noa is laying in state at Makirikiri Aotea Marae until Sunday, July 21, 2019
where a funeral service will commence at 11am, followed by burial at Kaitoki