Kahu Durie, a life well spent

20:21, Dec 15 2011

An unshakeable faith and a simple philosophy of karma drove Reverend Kahu Durie to fulfil a life dedicated to uplifting others.

After more than 60 years of contribution to her community, Mrs Durie died at her home on November 17.

Mrs Durie's daughter Hurihia Tomo said her mum knew who she was, and was a woman who lived with integrity.

"She was inclusive and affirming of all people, and a fearless, loving, gracious and positive woman. She had a deep, unshakeable Christian faith and a strong, traditional Maori upbringing, both of which she lived by in her daily life."

Born in Feilding in 1926, she grew up at Aorangi Marae and at Kakariki – attending Taonui School and Hukarere College.

After completing a qualification at Wellington Teachers' Training College, her first teaching post took her to Pipiwai School near Whangarei in 1947.


She taught at a range of schools in the North Island before moving to Whangarei in late 1971. There she joined the Maori Women's Welfare League and later went on to be made a life member.

She taught at Tikipunga Primary School for nearly 30 years and during her time there Reverend Kahu introduced one of the first Te Reo Maori programmes into the school's curriculum. Being a fluent speaker, she also taught at Te Kura o Matawaia and Motatau School.

It was in Whangarei that she became active in the Anglican Church and after retiring from teaching fulltime in 1986, became more active both in pastorate and parish divisions, becoming a kaikarakia in 1993. In 1996 she was ordained a full priest. She returned to Manawatu in 1999.

Her death notice described her as the loved wife of the late Te Hape Taipana and Barry Clarke.

Mrs Durie was awarded a QSM for her work in the community in the 2007-08 New Year's Honours list, in particular for her work in education and the establishment of a funded Maori chaplaincy position at Palmerston North Hospital – a position she held from 2005 to 2008.

Mrs Durie followed in her parents' footsteps as a member of the ministry team at St Michael's Church in Highbury.

At the same time she counselled students at the Bible College, and provided spiritual guidance and support to Maori nurses in primary healthcare. In this role, her ministry extended to working with Aorangi Hospital, Arohanui Hospice, Ozanam House, rest homes and Maori health providers.

Mrs Tomo said her mother was never one to sit still, and lived by a simple philosophy.

"Her work within the community reflected the contribution given by her parents in their time. It was an expectation and one that she loved fulfilling. She valued people and believed all good things were possible.

"One of her favourite sayings was `Life is really very simple. What you give out, you get back', and Mum was a person who was unafraid to give her best."

She said her mother was missed "and a great loss to our whole family as she was the last of her brothers and sisters".

Mrs Durie is survived by three sons, two daughters, nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Manawatu Standard