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Marlborough’s Living Culture Treasure sparkles

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett presents Nan Kahu Chadwick with her award. Photo: Toni Gillan.

Her distinctive voice rings out clear, each note dropping into the silence of a spellbound audience.

Nan Kahu Chadwick is an inspiration to generations of people, her life devoted to the practice and preservation of te ao Māori.

Now the talented te reo Māori speaker, kapa haka teacher, composer and choreographer has just been appointed as a Marlborough Living Cultural Treasure.

Nan says everything she has done has been to honour her tupuna.

“I like to help people, help their journey be a good journey.”

Nan joins eight other Living Cultural Treasures.

Marlborough Museum ambassador Toni Gillan says a panel decided her contribution to the community deserved the recognition.

“It has always been my personal pleasure to contact the recipient of the award and tell them the news in person,” Toni says.

“This year was no different, and to see the surprise and delight on Nan’s face was very humbling.

“The Marlborough Living Treasure award is a wonderful way to acknowledge the extremely creative people in our community.”

Born Kahumarianatakutaioomoana Chadwick in Otukopiri (Koroniti) on the Whanganui River, Nan grew up speaking te reo.

Nan came to Blenheim in 1979, taking on a variety of teaching roles before joining Bohally Intermediate School’s bilingual unit as a kaiarahi i te reo Maori teacher in 1987.

For the first time, manystudents under Nan’s tuition began to discover for the first time who they were as she supported them to research and recite their pepeha, their personal introduction.

Thousands of Marlborough students lucky enough to attend Bohally in the 30 years Nan taught there were exposed to te reo and regular kapa haka performances.

“It wasn’t just the students – their parents and grandparents became involved in discovering who they are and what they did in their time. So many magic moments,” she says.

As a tutor and composer for Te Rerenga o Te Ra Flight Across the Heavens kapa haka group, Nan has led the group at performances on many civic occasions in Marlborough.

Te Rerenga o Te Ra has also represented Marlborough and New Zealand overseas, travelling to Germany in 2011, Norfolk Island 2013, to France and Malaysia in 2015, and Britain in 2017.

Nan continues to inspire future generations to speak te reo and learn about their place in te ao Maori.

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