Tess Huia Moeke-Maxwell
Dr Tess Huia Moeke-Maxwell (Ngaitai, Ngati Porou), PhD, Hons (1st Class).
“I am the daughter of Joyce Teoraiti Maxwell and Ronald William Lyons. My mother’s father was George (Hori) Maxwell and her mother was Minaora Moeke. On my mother’s paternal side her grandmother was Hera Maurahu Knox (Ngati Porou) and my mother’s grandfather was Patariki Makiwhara (Maxwell), son of Nguengue chieftaness and daughter of the paramount chief, Tara Te Irirangi (Ngaitai ki Tamaki Makaurau). Our tupuna have many offspring and I am but one. I have three adult children and 10 mokopuna and currently live in Auckland with my partner near the sea – five of our mokopuna live in the same village as us which makes me very happy. I am a Research Fellow at the University of Auckland. My research interests are Maori palliative care and end of life care of kaumatua (older peoples).”
My mother watched baby Jeanette take her last breath. Through my mother’s eyes, I watched my tiny sister’s wairua take flight, a soft pale leaf on the wind.
“The leaf cast a shadow over my mother, yet it didn’t stop her loving others – including the young family she took into her Devonport home, giving John, Maude and their baby a roof over their heads. John’s now an acclaimed artist, with paintings in galleries across the world.
At the time I wrote my story my mother Joyce had recently met up with her friends after more than 50 years. My mother told me that Maude and John Blackburn (her boarders) kept her company the night the hospital rang to say her two month old baby was dying. My mother had to wait until morning before she could catch the ferry to see baby Jeanette before she died. It must have been a long and painful evening but many cups of tea and gentle words of encouragement were given from Maude and John night. I was moved that my mother felt compelled to remind her friends of the gift they had given to her… I was moved also to hear that they thanked her for giving them the gift of a home… they had never forgotten her act of kindness either.”