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‘A sort of life’ story told

Dr Janice Wenn held back tears as her book was launched at Whaiora. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Emily Ireland

Dr Janice Wenn has done many things in her lifetime.

But now, she can tick another achievement off the list, after launching an autobiographical book, Ko Matakitaki te Tuatahi – A sort of life.

Janice, a Maori nurse of Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, is a visionary health leader committed to improving health for Maori whanau in Aotearoa.

She has worked in health for more than half a century and got her PhD at the age of 74.

She remains the oldest Maori to graduate from Massey University with a PhD.

Last week, at Whaiora Medical Centre, which she set up in 1997, she launched her book, a collection of stories emerging from her PhD research and her own life.

Her PhD focused on identifying core values underpinning Maori health and much of her research involved interviewing 40 kaumatua and kuia from Ngati Kahungnunu ki Wairarapa and Taranaki iwi.

Set in the dramatic landscape of Matakitaki at Cape Palliser, ‘A sort of life’ is a personal and professional story dedicated to whanau ora.

At the launch, Whaiora practice manager Triny Ruhe said the medical centre was just one of the many legacies Janice had created for the community.

Just before her book was blessed by Archdeacon Wiremu Kaua, Janice spoke to the crowd of people who had gathered to celebrate, emotions running high.

“I’m kind of speechless,” she began, to which people laughed.

“As I grow older, I spend a lot of time reminiscing, remembering what has been.

“The world is full of stories.

“I just feel so privileged to have shared those with so many people.”

She said her next project would be to “see to it that the elderly have a voice . . . it’s really important”.


  1. Congratulations on the launching of your book the journey has been interesting and not without drama Heather O Brien.Echuca Australia

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