Auntie Tinka saluted

Dominion Post | 4 November 2002

Porirua Civic Awards.

FEW people in Porirua recognise the name Utanga Wineera but thousands prick up their ears when the name Auntie Tinka is mentioned.


Photo: Tireless worker: Auntie Tinka, Utanga Wineera, says it is always lovely to know you have helped someone.

For more than two decades Auntie Tinka, aka Utanga Wineera, has been the heart and soul of the Ngati Toa community living around the Takapuwahia Marae.  Her work on behalf of her people will be recognised tonight when she receives a Porirua Civic Award.

The 77-year-old grandmother of 40 and great-grandmother of eight is humble at the honour bestowed on her.  She has a simple answer when asked why she keeps on, when many consider she would have every justification in retiring and relaxing.

"It is always lovely to know you've helped someone."

Though raised in Porirua, she spent 15 years of her married life in Hawke's Bay followed by 12 years in Australia.  Bearing and raising 10 sons and one daughter occupied most of her time.  "When my baby -- he's now 38 -- finished school I said you can look after yourself now.  Then I came home."

Auntie Tinka immediately got involved in the community, joining with four other women to found Te Roopu Awhina ki Porirua, the city's first refuge for Maori women.

"We set it up for Maori women but it soon became a place for all women — Pakeha and Samoan."

Also receiving civic awards are Plimmerton resident Margaret Guthrie for her work in the health sector and for older people; Keep Porirua Beautiful chairman Dennis Ormsby; Sylvia Jenkin, who has been active in the Friends of Maara Roa and in the Eastern Ward Residents Association; and Fa'alelei Te'o, a Friend of the Court at Porirua District Court.