Kua hinga he totara nui i te wao nui ā-Tāne! He tangi aroha tēnei ki te whānau e noho pani nei.
It is with great sadness we received the news of Matua George’s passing suddenly but peacefully on Thursday 31st of March.
We had the privilege of leaning on his wisdom and guidance in many areas. An amazing teacher with the ability to make complex concepts simple, especially around Te Ao Māori and our Christian Faith. George made people feel safe about exploring contentious issues and he had the ability to gently but firmly correct and direct while leaving a person’s mana intact.
George was a foundation Board member of Te Ora Hou Aotearoa and instrumental in supporting us in the tough transition years out of YFC and only recently stood down from the National Board. He was also a founding and current Board member and Kaumatua of Te Ora Hou Ōtautahi. As the Boss at Wai Ora he was instrumental in supporting TOHO in our early days with guidance, wisdom, time and resources. A number of our current staff, helpers and whānau journeyed with him through both Wai Ora and Te Ora Hou. Many like ex TOHO manager Marty Mihinnick, had their lives transformed through George as he shared his faith and mentored them.
George originally came to Ōtautahi from Ruatōria via Auckland via the Māori Trade Training scheme. While George was pastoring a ‘church’ of misfits (Faith Family), he was one of the visionaries who founded Wai Ora Trust in response to the need for a place where local whānau could get employment after leaving prison and support to escape the cycles of abuse and violence. George has many stories of locals being dropped off by the Police or Churches when they had nowhere else to go or were too hard to handle. Many lived with George and Wyn. George led Wai Ora for many years and helped guide it to become an amazing social enterprise with nurseries, landscaping as well as being a place of connection and restoration for many struggling people. After leaving Wai Ora, George took on a counselling role with He Waka Tapu and became increasingly active in the Māori Anglican Church and his own business.
George was ordained as an Anglican minister. This was in answer to Gods calling to serve amongst Māori – to help “bring life to the graveyard” as he put it. While not always the political favourite he was very much the “peoples” choice due to his practical down to earth way of sharing the Gospel with humour and good teaching. George after much prayer and consideration had put his name in the ring for the vacant Te Waipounamu Bishop position and was in the final interview stages. He would have made an awesome Pīhopa!
George is a person who cannot be replaced, his legacy is one which Te Ora Hou is proud to be associated with. Both George and Wyn have been instrumental in shaping the lives of many in Te Ora Hou whānau, they have married, christened, blessed and encouraged many of us and our extended whānau. We were blessed to have him recently sharing his wisdom around the Treaty and hanging out. We will miss his willingness to pop in and visit for a cup of hot water or coffee while encouraging us in our mahi, sharing a laugh and gently challenging us onward. An incredibly humble, astute and intelligent man, his passing highlights the legacy he and Wyn have left for all of us in Te Ora Hou and our journey over the last 40 years.
George and Wyn were very much a team in life and ministry and we can only imagine the impact of this loss for Wyn, their 3 children, Ricky, Tania, Damien and their mokopuna.
Ngā mihi nui, haere i runga i te rangimārie, okioki ai e hoa.