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Profile: Shelley Pritchard

There are not too many people in Flaxmere who don’t know the lovely smiley face of Shelley Pritchard.

They might have seen her at Ka Pai Cuppa Waka when it used to be on the side of the road, or at Ka Pai Cuppa Teina now that it has moved onto Flaxmere Park, singing her heart out at any number of functions or just for fun (including holding street concerts during COVID), in her role as board member of Te Aranga Marae, as a member of the Flaxmere Planning Committee, at school events as her children were growing up, and much more. Now she also fits in lots of mokopuna time with 11 grandbabies, all living locally.

Shelley is a very busy woman, who puts the community at the heart of everything she does.

On top of all that, she gives everything to her full-time position with Te Ikaroa Rangatahi Social Services, assisting tane who are in the Corrections system to reintegrate with whānau.

Her day starts early; opening Ka Pai Cuppa Teina at 6am, catching up with all the regulars calling in for their ‘cuppa’. “I love that part of the day; catching up with everything that’s going on in our community. The Teina is a real ‘bumping’ place; we all bump into each other and share news about what’s going on.”

By 7.30am, her spot making coffee has been taken over and she’s back home getting ready to head off to work.

Her mind is always buzzing – coming up with ideas to help her community, or grabbing hold of opportunities as they arise. One of those is brand new: karaoke in Flaxmere Park, by the Teina, on the last Friday night of each month.

“Henry Heke and I were just chatting after he’d had his Crossfit class in the park, about how great it would be to play music at the Teina. A friend who runs a karaoke business was there and next minute it’s all organised. “Sheldon brought the gear down and singers appeared from everywhere, including friends from Hamilton who were down and joined us. Now they’re planning to time their visits to Flaxmere whanau to be here for karaoke every month.”

Music is Shelley’s happy place. “Music is such a healing space and it’s fantastic that so many people are coming together to organise a free event that is so good for our community.”

Shelley is also the proud bearer of her moko kauae, which she had done with her sisters in December last year. “It is a huge incredibly important step on my life journey.”

“I’m one of six girls and it was a kōrero we had had a number of times. Today, three of us wear moko kauae. I think a catalyst for the timing was the gathering we held in Havelock North last year in support of a woman wearing moko kauae who was badly treated in a park there.

“I wear my moko kauae with pride. She is a rendition of my great, great-grandmother’s moko kauae. I have been told she was a little woman in stature, however a mana wahine and a puhi in our whanau.

“My husband shared with me that he wanted to receive his mataora, so I decided that I would receive my moko kauae with my husband.”


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