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Inez Kingi MNZM, QSO


Rotorua's queen of Maori health

Ngāti Whakaue


During her career Inez Haereata Kingi gave great energy and vision to the health of Te Arawa children.  Today, this commitment is there for all to see in the thriving Tipu Ora Charitable Trust.


Her story began in Ōhinemutu. Born in the village, Inez was the 12th and youngest child of her family.  She married the love of her life, the great Ngāti Whakaue leader Pihopa Kingi in St Faith’s Church in 1955.


By then Inez was a fully-fledged school dental nurse, described in her husband Pihopa’s book about her as the “star of the class of 1950.”


In 1983 Inez began creating the Ōhinemutu’s Tūnohopū Health Centre. With the support of the Women’s Health League, of which she was president, the centre provided “Western-trained professional and traditional Māori healers able to work side by side.”  This was a change from the healthcare at the time which didn’t include any ideas from Māori culture.

The kaupapa that Tipu Ora has been built on reaches back to the work of the founder of the Women’s Health League, Scottish Nurse Robina Cameron. Upon her arrival in Rotorua in the early 1930s, Nurse Cameron was shocked by how many Māori mothers and babies died during birth, as well as how common many infectious diseases were. She saw the need for a mother and child healthcare programme specially designed for Māori.

With assistance of Te Arawa leaders she organised local health committees at marae around the district.  She taught mothers childcare skills and how to protect their children from disease. At an historic hui held at Tūnohopū in 1937, these committees, made up mainly of Māori women, formed the Te Arawa Women’s Health League.

The more than 35 years of strong leadership by Inez Kingi helped grow the health and well-being of Māori children hugely. She made strong relationships with health officials and ministers over 25 years and her passion for promoting mother and child healthcare resulted in the building of the Tipu Ora Health Centre in Ōhinemutu.


In 1997 ‘Hei Oranga Niho mo te Iwi Māori’ was set up to help with Māori dental needs. Dental students in their fifth year of study gave free dental services to the community.


Inez’ contribution to health and wellbeing of Māori was recognised in 2000 when she was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2009 she received the Queens Service Order for her ongoing services and commitment to Women’s Health League.  


Inez Kingi retired in 2003, but her work continues. Tipu Ora Charitable Trust and Te Utuhina Manaakitanga Trust (dealing with mental health issues) came together in 2013, so that both organisations could grow within the Rotorua community.

Qualities: Wellbeing, scholarship, diligence, relationships

More to read:


From Rotorua Library:

Life and times of Inez Haereata Kingi MNZM. QSO (Pihopa Hamilton Kingi)


Te Rōpu o te Ora: the founding of the Te Arawa Women’s Health League, 1937

(Laurie Morrison)


This entry is related to these other entries:

The achievements of the Women’s Health League: Te Rōpu o Te Ora




Te Rōpu o te Ora: the founding of the Te Arawa Women’s Health League, 1937

(Laurie Morrison)


Life and times of Inez Haereata Kingi MNZM. QSO (Pihopa Hamilton Kingi)

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