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Nanny Lou: ‘A wonderful kete of knowledge’

Carterton’s Roena Louise Cook, aka Nanny Lou or Aunty Lou, died on Saturday aged 85. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

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Known simply as Nanny Lou or Aunty Lou to many, Carterton’s Roena Louise Cook dedicated her 85 years on earth to helping others and bringing people together.

She died suddenly on Saturday, leaving a massive gap in the Wairarapa community.

On Wednesday at her funeral, the Carterton Events Centre was not big enough to accommodate the hundreds who turned out to pay her tribute.

People spilled out into the foyer as Carterton School children gathered on the floor inside the centre around Nanny Lou’s casket.

Her great-great granddaughter Jaimee Rangi noted how just five weeks earlier, Nanny Lou had stood inside the events centre when she was recognised for her outstanding contribution to UCOL Wairarapa.

A passionate community volunteer, Nanny Lou was an honoured kuia for UCOL, which closed its campus on Wednesday for the day in a show of respect.

Archdeacon Wai Quayle said Nanny Lou was as active as ever at age 85, and acted like she was still in her 60s “the way she traipsed around the country” on a regular basis.

Nanny Lou lived from May 19, 1932 to April 28, 2018.

“There’s a dash in the middle and this lady’s dash was so busy . . . she was one person who made time for everybody.”

UCOL kaumatua Mike Kawana said he had learnt much from Nanny Lou and was both privileged and honoured to have been a “little speck in that dash”.

“Nanny Lou wasn’t afraid to tell you off either,” he said.

Mr Kawana, of Rangitane o Wairarapa, said he always liked it when Nanny Lou was on the marae because it meant everyone behaved themselves.

He said Nanny Lou had left a “wonderful kete of knowledge” which would live on through the generations.

Carterton Mayor John Booth said she played an integral role around the council table as a cultural adviser.

He said Aunty Lou was held in high regard by the council and was widely respected by the community.

She was gracious and kind, with a serene manner.

Labour list MP Willie Jackson said lots of people called her Aunty Lou, but in his case it was a fact.

She was his grandmother’s sister.

Mr Jackson said his great aunt would joke there was only two types of Maori – “those who were Ngati Porou and those who wanted to be”.

He regretted he had not seen her for at least three years, and advised the gathering to make whanau a priority, as Aunty Lou did.

Stacey Grant said Aunty Lou was a dedicated and passionate leader, who undertook many roles in the community, including as a kuia for the Maori Adversary Group of the Wairarapa Police District and a life member of Maori Women’s Welfare League.

Former Carterton mayor and NZ First MP Ron Mark said Aunty Lou had offered him much support and encouragement over the years.

He would miss her wisdom, compassion, gentle guidance, and the “firm look” she would give at times when she disapproved of his actions.

Gavin Rangi said he was raised by Nanny Lou, his grandmother, who was “a bit of a hard case”, with a lovely temperament.

Kelly Rangi and Kerin Herlihy also gave tributes.

Nanny Lou was the wife of the late Reginald Rangi and the late Douglas Cook.

She was a cherished kuia for Hurunui-o-rangi Marae in Gladstone, where she was buried.


  1. Nanny Lou was our grandmother Tai Jane Monika-Taare’s sister. Arohanui mo Te whanau. Na Te whanau or Ed Carrington.

  2. Nanny Lou, May you RIP Nan. beautiful smile and a beautiful heart. I remember you nan. thank you for the Karanga you did for Nan and Koro when we bought them back to the Wairarapa .. I will never ever forget that day. Rest in Heaven xxxx

  3. Rest in peace Aunty Lou, my knowledge of you goes back a number of years to when my mother lived in Carterton. She was closely connected to members of your whanau and I always enjoyed being in your company. Moe mai i to moenga roa. Kei te tangi tonu te ngakau mou.

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