Maori nursing educator. Died aged 57.

Irihapeti Ramsden, who died at her Wellington home after a long battle with cancer, worked to build an inclusive nation.

Associate Maori Affairs Minister Tariana Turia said Dr Ramsden's death was a great loss to the country.

"As an anthropologist, a nurse, a publisher and an educator, she strived to help people understand how their own culture impacted on others," she said.


"She had an astute mind, a vibrant personality and a warm and gentle style. She was an outstanding communicator - she was able to say difficult things that needed to be said, with such understanding that you couldn't really take offence."

Dr Ramsden saw huge potential in Maori and was passionate about releasing it, Ms Turia said.

"Twenty years ago, when Keri Hulme's manuscript for The Bone People was turned down by established publishers, Irihapeti got together with the Spiral Collective and they published the book privately," she said.

"Of course, it went on to win the Booker Prize."

Dr Ramsden, who was invested as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit just two weeks before she died, was a registered general and obstetric nurse and doctor of philosophy.

She had conducted educational seminars on cultural safety, the Treaty of Waitangi and Maori health issues since 1984.

Dr Ramsden was a Fellow of the College of Nurses and convener of the Parallel Group of the Nursing Council Family Planning Association.

The daughter of writer and historian Eric Ramsden and Merenia Manawatu, Dr Ramsden was of Ngai Tahu and Rangitane descent.


Historian Michael King, a friend and colleague, said she was regarded as one of the most influential Maori leaders of her generation.

"Irihapeti was greatly admired for her lucid intelligence, her clarity with words, her powers of gentle and logical persuasion, and a sparkling sense of humour. The impact on those with whom she interacted was literally inspirational.

"Her premature death leaves a huge gap in the lives of those who knew and worked with her."

Dr Ramsden is survived by her husband, Paul Stannard, her two children and a grandchild.