Source: Waikato District Health Board
Photo: Maata McManus was presented with her Commonwealth Points of Light award in October by Laura Clarke, UK High Commissioner in New Zealand
Waikato DHB kaitiaki Maata McManus is recognised by a Commonwealth Points of Light award for her outstanding work as a volunteer who uses the Māori art of weaving korowai (traditional feathered cloaks) to reach local women in need of care and support.
Commonwealth Points of Light awards recognise volunteers who are making a change in their community across the 53 Commonwealth nations. The award is given every week by the Queen through the British Prime Minister’s Office, and is an offshoot of the UK Points of Light programme.
Maata was nominated for the award by the New Zealand Government after receiving a Queen’s Service Medal in 2017 for her services to Māori and health.
Maata’s passion to teach korowai weaving lies in its power to support wāhine (women) through times of grief and give them a space to grieve and find peace as well as a sense of connection to their people and culture.
She was first inspired to start the korowai workshops during her efforts to comfort women who had lost children to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and now it extends to encouraging women to get checks for breast and cervical cancer. The korowai cloaks are made with up to 4000 feathers and take at least three months to complete a cloak.
As well as volunteering her time and knowledge for her korowai weaving, Maata works in a community-based role in Waikato District Health Board’s Te Puna Oranga (Māori Health services) team. She and some of her “korowai ladies” recently created five framed korowai for Thames Hospital as part of the hospital’s commemoration of 150 years.