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Aunty Wai was "wise, earthy, compassionate"

Mon 30 Sep 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News View at NDHA

Aunty Wai Mason as she appeared in a safe sex promotional video Aunty Wai Mason, the NZ AIDS Foundation kaumatua who died at the weekend in Auckland, is being remembered as compassionate, knowledgable and as the possessor of an earthy sense of humour. Details of Mason's passing are not available, but the elderly kuia, who was increasingly frail before her death, is now lying at rest at the Te Unga Waka marae in Epsom where she is described as "at peace and looking gorgeous and wearing her red ribbon." Mason was a long-time member of  Te ropu kia tau o te waka, the Maori advisory group to the board of the AIDS Foundation. The board earlier this year made her an honorary Life Member of the Foundation. "Aunty Wai provided sane advice and an elder's perspective, she was very much a kuia to the Board and could be relied of for wise counsel," says fellow advisory group member Richard Tankersley. "She was very good at facilitating high-level relationships and giving input on strategic matters." Tankersley says he will always remember her as "compassionate and warm, slightly wicked with an earthy sense of humour... she was great value." He says Mason was active in taking the Foundation's safe sex messages "to our takataapui and she also to her own generation, reassuring them that it's ok to talk about matters such as sex and sexuality and safety with young people." Tankersley says Mason lent her support to many NZAF staff on a personal level and also personalised the safe sex message by taking part in promotional videos. Tribute messages appearing online include: "Aunty Wai was a fantastic kuia, she loved us and never judged us as takataapui, a wahine of such mana, she will be greatly missed, a huge gap has been created now.' - Huhana Hickey.  "Rest in peace Aunty, a woman of great mana in our community, a kuia who honoured so many occasions with your aroha, your wisdom and beautiful sense of humour. Thanks too for all the occasions you were prersent to honour those remembered in the NZ AIDS Quilts. Go forth Christian soul.... Pa M" - Michael Bancroft of the AIDS Memorial Quilt Project. "Aunty Wai is one of the heroes of our time and this is a very very sad day for Aotearoa. I will miss you Aunty Wai. X" - Vaughan Meneses, past manager of Outline. "So sorry to hear this. RIP Aunty Wai you are a beautiful lady and will be a great loss to NZAF and all that new you xxx." - Karen Ritchie of the Cartier Trust. "We love you Aunty Wai! You were gracious and regal to the end! xx" - Singer and documentary maker Ramon Te Wake. "A most delightful, humble and knowledgeable kuia... Harae Harae Harae Harae to tipuna." - Anne Speir. "Arohamai whanau in my Whakaaro,what an inspirational Kuia,it was a honour to have met her,haere,haere ra e kuia." - Wellington transgender icon Dana de Milo. "He mamae aroha. Moe mai te whaea aunty Wai ki nga ringaringa o to tatou matua i te Rangi. E moe, e moe, e moe." - Sophie Tauhara. "Aunty Wai was always there for us she gracefully dedicated her time to supporting all her mokopuna please please please come and tautoko beautiful whanau." - Jordan Harris, NZAF. Aunty Wai Mason will be finally farewelled on the Te Unga Waka marae, 1 Clyde Street, Epsom, from 5.30pm tomorrow.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 30th September 2013 - 4:13pm

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