Pa Girl And Policy Expert – Meet Raina Meha

(Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Makino, Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Aitanga a Māhaki)

If you ask Raina Meha to tell you a bit about herself, she’ll insist that she’s boring with not much to share.

But if you keep digging, you’ll find Raina has led an interesting life. She was private secretary to Jenny Shipley, travelled foreign lands, and helped in less economically developed countries. And as an AFS volunteer, she worked on a women’s project in the black township of Soweto, conducting site visits to identify projects the New Zealand government could assist with.

“The kuia in Soweto had to carry the families and look after the mokopuna because parents had passed away from HIV/AIDS. That was an eye-opener for me. When you land at the airport in Johannesburg the warning signs about HIV are as common as ours on foreign pests.

“I would do my mihi at AFS gatherings with people from Europe who were multilingual but I was proud as to do my mihi and waiata.”

While at Te Ohu Kaimoana, Raina spent time in Japan in a fishing village.

“I grew up at Rotoiti and proud to have that grounding from my whānau and hapū of Ngāti Tamateatutahi-Ngāti Kawiti. I loved social studies at school which opened me to other cultures. I’ve had the best of both worlds – an upbringing at Rotoiti but also that international experience.”

She is actively involved at Tapuaeharuru Marae and the Rotoiti branch of the Women’s Health League. And while Raina has travelled widely around the world, coming home to Rotoiti and looking out at our lake and maunga was just as rewarding.

“I’d been to the Pyramids of Giza, the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, and the Great Wall of China. But when you come home there’s nothing that can beat our lake and Matawhāura. That prompted me to walk up. I’d been to all these landmarks in the world but hadn’t walked up our maunga. So I went up.”

As a past trustee of Ngāti Pikiao Iwi Trust and Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa Trust, and current trustee of Te Arawa Lakes Trust, Te Tatau o Te Arawa and Te Tahuna Trust, Raina is positive about the state of iwi governance in Te Arawa. She says our Ngāti Pikiao land trusts and incorporations are heading in the right direction too.

She reflects fondly on her pig hunting expeditions with her late husband, Morehu Rangitauira, who sadly passed away last year. “He was the hunter and I was his assistant but I loved being in the outdoors with him and seeing our dogs in action. It was a passion of my husband’s and it was a great experience to go hunting with him.”