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Tui Ora founder and matriarch remembered
By Deena Coster, Taranaki Daily News
A Taranaki Māori health advocate will be remembered by her whānau as a matriarch with mana.
Pamela Te Urumairangi Ritai, a registered nurse, founder of kaupapa Māori health service Tui Ora and mother-of-five, died on June 12. She was 72.
Pamela trained at the former Barrett St hospital in New Plymouth and graduated in 1968 before working for the Taranaki District Health Board.
After a stint living overseas in Australia between 1979-1990, the Ritai family returned to Taranaki and Pamela took on a job as a public health nurse in Waitara.
Daughter Dee-Anna Ritai-Te Awa said during the five years her mother worked in that role, she got an insight into the impact poverty had on the health of Māori children, which spurred her drive to help establish Tui Ora in 1998.
Tui Ora is now the largest community-based health and social services provider in the region.
Dee-Anna said she and her mother also set up the Manaaki Oranga service in 2002, which had a focus on maternal health.
Hayden Wano, chief executive of Tui Ora, worked with Pamela for 21 years.
He said she had a passion for health and was one of a handful of Māori registered nurses working in the field at start of her career.
Pamela, uri (descendant) of Te Ātiawa, Taranaki and Te Ātiawa Ki Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka, later served as a director on the Tui Ora board.
Wano said Pamela was "a very humble, deep-thinking person" who had a "strong backbone" and was the type people wanted in their corner during the tough times.
"She will be remembered and missed for her role in hauora (health) in Taranaki."
Dee-Anna said her mother's legacy within her whānau was the importance she placed on mātauranga (knowledge/education).
As a teen, Pamela was told by one of her teachers at Waitara High School that she would never achieve School Certificate.
Read the full story here.