Remembering Paula Wanakore

1 Feb

Māori Touch NZ & Touch NZ join the Aotearoa Touch community in mourning as we sadly share the heartbreaking news of Paula Wanakore’s passing.

Paula was a dearly loved and widely respected member of the touch community, both in Aotearoa and Australia.

She gave generously to both the Touch NZ community and the Māori Touch NZ whanau in many different capacities. Her love for the sport of touch was undeniable.

A trailblazer.

Throughout the years, Paula would have a major influence on the sport of Touch within her local area - in particular Ngāti Maniapoto and the King Country rohe.

As a member of her local "Iron Maidens” Touch Club and "9 of Hearts Touch Crew" she would often lead her teams into battle, playing in local modules in Te Kuiti , Otorohanga and Te Awamutu.

Paula was a trailblazer, playing against Men’s teams - proving in the process it was ok to do so. More often than not, she would lead her team to victory in those games.

Some years later, Paula would move to Hamilton - eventually joining the “X Factor Touch Team" under the legendary tutelage of John Rangitawa, astute management of Grant Metcalfe and a playing roster stacked with National and double International NZ representatives.

X Factor fast became the club to beat, dominating the annual Whakatāne Touch Classic, winning championships at the iconic tournament 8 years in a row.

This inevitably lead to Waikato Open Women’s Selection for Paula, first wearing the Waikato colours in the Summer of 1992.

Winning Gold and representing Aotearoa.

Paula would continue to be a mainstay of the team until 1997, culminating in Waikato being crowned National Champions for the first time. Paula would go on to play in the NZ Masters Grades at Provincial Level for Waikato, eventually leading to her selection for the New Zealand 30 Women’s side to Tour England and Wales alongside the likes of Ira Te Kani, Margo Stone, Hinei Taute, Andrea Dance, Kerry Cameron, Robyn Profitt, Stacey Ohara and the late Donna Morgan.

Further NZ Masters Selections for the NZ 30 Women’s Team in 2004 would see Paula tour Queensland Australia and in 2005 play at the Inaugural All Nations Tournament.

Paula continued to serve our sport as both a youth level coach and selector throughout the Waikato. She was also an integral part of Te Rohe Potae, who participated at the Māori Touch Nationals. In 2012 Paula was named the Assistant Coach of the New Zealand Open Women Touch Blacks team for their Trans-Tasman Test Series in Mudgee, New South Wales.

Making an impact in Ahitereiria.

Paula would go on to move to Australia, settling with her whanau on the Gold Coast.

It was here she would find employment as a Cultural Advisor and Student Liaison Officer at Keebra Park State High School. Paula quickly become a pou in her community with kiwis living in Australia, many seeking her knowledge of Te reo Māori me ngā tikanga.

This mahi also lead to her supporting kaupapa Māori Initiatives such as the All Nations Touch Tournament on the Gold Coast, Pacific Cup Tournament and the Tara Brown Memorial Touch Tournament.

Paula was instrumental in the returning home of Queensland Māori Touch Teams to the Māori Touch Nationals Tournaments and a founding member of the Kickback Touch Football Club.

The outpouring of love throughout the touch community is a fitting testament to the beautiful, kind and generous wāhine Paula was. We share our prayers, love and thoughts to her whanau at this sad time.

Moe mai rā e te Rangatira. You will be missed and loved forever.

Tangi Details

Location: Kahotea Marae
50 Kahotea Road, Otorohanga
Date: Friday 2nd February
10am - Paula Whakatau

Wā whakaeke (Scheduled ope times)
1pm, 3pm, 5pm
7pm - Karakia

Saturday 3rd February
Wā whakaeke (Scheduled ope times)
9am, 11am, 2pm, 4pm

Po whakamutunga
Karakia: 7pm 

Poroporoaki: 8pm
Rā nehu-Burial Sunday 4th February
6:30am Taupokinga / Closing of the casket
11am Karakia whakamutunga - Service

Acc name: Whanau Wanakore
Acc no: 38-9001-0049173-07