Marcia Matiaha, or “Nanny Marcia”, one of the founders of Te Kohanga Reo o Ngati Hamua. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

ELISA VORSTER
elisa.vorster@age.co.nz

Iti rearea, teitei Kahikatea ka taea – the smallest bellbird can reach the highest kahikatea tree in the forest as age does not limit our success.

This was the whakatauki/proverb chosen to reflect the 35th anniversary celebration of Te Kohanga Reo o Ngati Hamua – Masterton’s te reo immersion preschool.

For 30 of those years, the quick-witted Marcia Matiaha, or “Nanny Marcia”, was the native te reo speaking kuia whose love of the language has left a lasting legacy at the preschool.

“She will never ever be forgotten,” her daughter and centre manager Marlene Matiaha said.

“You could tell she was passionate about her work – kohanga was her life and she was there 24/7.”

The celebrations included a huge cake which they shared around the entire community, before letting off balloons into the sky.

It was also what Marlene referred to as “a memory lane of Mum”.

Nanny Marcia was one of the founders of the kohanga, ensuring children of all cultures got to experience and learn about tikanga Maori.

Although she passed away four years ago, Nanny Marcia’s spiritual side still lives on at the kohanga.

“There’s a photo of her on the wall so we can look at her every day, because it’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door,” Marlene said.

“She was certainly a one-in-a-million lady.

“She taught many, many children throughout Wairarapa, and some have become principals and teachers following through with te reo.”

The centre also chose a proverb to remember Nanny Marcia by.

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini – my success should not be bestowed on to me alone, as it was not individual success but success of a collective.