Elizabeth Whittaker, who died in the dog attack on October 12, was well loved in Mōerewa, Kawakawa and Ōtīria Marae.
The kuia who died in a dog attack in Northland was so well-respected in Mōerewa and Kawakawa, everyone used to call her “Ma”.
Elizabeth Effie Whittaker, 78, is being remembered for her motherly and kind nature, which involved spending plenty of time in the kitchen at nearby Ōtīria Marae.
She died on October 12 after the incident on her Mōerewa property, which involved dogs who belonged to someone on the property. Police have not yet confirmed who owned the animals.
Her nephew Joey Rapana said his whaea was a small but motherly figure who was always inviting people in for a feed.
“She’s known for the tireless work that she’s done within her community and at the local marae.
“She was cooking all the time at funerals and birthdays – even if she wasn’t invited,” Rapana said.
“She lives not too far from our marae and if she saw cars there she’d just trod on up,” he explained.
In Mōerewa and nearby Kawakawa, Whittaker was so well-loved, she was nicknamed “Marsy” or “Ma”, Rapana said.
“Their memory of her is walking into her home – which always smelled of food – and her always inviting them to have a feed.”
Amongst the mourners paying tribute to Whittaker are local schoolchildren, who will come to say goodbye with their kōhanga reo, kindy, kura or school, he said.
Staff from the Silverdale Animal Shelter show a group of preschoolers how to safely interact with dogs. (Video first published August 2022)
Over the weekend, primary school children practising for Te Mana Kuratahi – the national primary schools’ kapa haka competition in Nelson later this month – dedicated their dress rehearsals to her, Rapana said.
“She would’ve been sitting in the audience, encouraging them on.”
“As far as she was concerned, all these little kids were her grandchildren because she fed their parents.”
Rapana did not want to go into details about the dog attack, other than to confirm the dogs were not wandering, which is a common problem in the area.
Her daughters, who were also caught up in the attack, are still healing from their injuries and the family is in shock, he said.
Whittaker is currently lying in state at Ōtīria Marae in Mōerewa. A service will be held on Wednesday before she is taken to her final resting place at Korokota Urupā, Mangataipa.
Police are investigating the incident on behalf of the coroner.
In August 2022, Northland man Neville Thomson, was killed at his property near Panguru after being mauled by dogs which belonged to a friend who was staying with him.