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About Kiri Dewes

Ko Hikurangi te maunga
Ko Ngati Porou te iwi
Ko Waiapu te awa

My language is a plume for my identity,
a jewel for my destiny,
and a soul for my very existence.


I invite you to come walk with me through the doorways of my life, the longings of my soul, the fulfilment of my dreams, and my aspirations as a mentor for our youth in today's troubled world.

Apart from her achievements, Kiri is currently finding the most enjoyment in life by attending spiritual gatherings where the oneness of humanity is recognised. The most important thing for her is to share her healing abilities, cultural knowledge, wisdom, and story-telling through the workshops that she runs wherever she goes.

Sitting Owl says she is one of the most humble and wise elders he knows.

Profile of Kiri Atawhai Dewes

Story-teller, Composer and Writer of stories, poems, and songs for schools, Culture Clubs in New Zealand, Australia, and The International Society of Poets, America.

Published works in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.A.

Cultural Advisor for Arohanui Creative Arts, Melbourne.

International Poet of distinction.

National and International judge for Maori Cultural Competitions.


Click this link to view an interview with Kiri by NZ-TV: Waka Huia

Detailed Profile of Kiri Atawhai Dewes

I was born Kiri Atawhai Tangaere, the seventh in a family of eleven. At seven months old I was taken by my mother's eldest sister, Riwia and her husband Henry Fox. They were Mum and Pop to me. They raised eighteen of us. They couldn't have children of their own and when I look back over the years I realise how fortunate I was to have them for my parents. They never let me forget who my birth parents were and I often visited them during the school holidays when I was young, so I am fortunate to have two families. My Mum and Pop made sure that we all had a good education so we could achieve in whatever career we chose.

At the age of 17 I, like my 4 older brothers joined the teaching profession and my first appointment was in a primary school named 'Te Tatara e maru ana' in Waiomatatini. After 2 years I was moved to Hicks Bay Primary School. 2 years later I was married and moved to Waihaha on the western side of Lake Taupo and my eldest son was born while we were there.

We bought a home in National Park and lived there for 10 years and had 4 more children. I went back teaching as there was a shortage of school teachers in the local school. I took my babies to school with me. My children and I moved back to Gisborne in 1966 to be with my Mum and in 1967 she passed away. It was like the end of the world to me. However life goes on and I went back teaching in a relieving capacity. I taught at Gisborne Intermediate, Awapuni School, Gisborne Central School and Gisborne Girls High. I moved to Christchurch after a marriage breakup and worked in the Autoclaving Department in Christchurch Women's Hospital for 2 years then moved back to Lower Hutt where I owned and drove a taxi for 5 years.

The death of my youngest brother brought me to Melbourne, Australia in 1974 and I went home and sold my taxi and moved permanently to Australia. It was the beginning of a new way of life for me. The change was quite dramatic, the pace a lot faster and the diversity of culture and languages so different it took some getting used to. Xmas 1989 I went back to New Zealand and started the 1st fully licensed Kohanga Reo in Pomare, Lower Hutt and attended Victoria University in Wellington for a National Certificate in Early Childhood Education before moving back to my home town Gisborne to care for my aunt. While there I worked at the Tairawhiti Polytech as Cultural Advisor and teaching students at the Polytech who wanted to become Maori Welfare Officers. As well I was doing distant studies with Waikato University towards a B. A. Degree in Maori.

1996 I returned to Melbourne and have been busy since, involved in many things. I have been to Africa, Hawaii and many states in the USA. as a motivational speaker at various venues and forums. Worked in schools, colleges and did holiday programs with different cultures here in Australia. My achievements: International Poet of Distinction, Registered Interpreter-translator, Published writer of songs, stories and poetry in America, Australia and New Zealand. I'm enjoying my senior years travelling and sharing our culture and stories with the world and the youth here in Australia. Most of all I'm happiest when I'm with my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I know in my heart that when our Cultural Centre comes to fruition here in Australia our Maori Customs, traditions and language will never die and our people will always have a place to stand tall in this ever changing world.

So, Kia kaha tatou ki te hoe i te waka nei kia u ki uta!!!!!


Tino Rangatiratanga


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