Mary Potter Hospice acknowledges the challenges for Māori wellbeing. We are committed to our Treaty obligations expressed and realised through our Māori Service Plan.

Vanessa's Patients 170Whānau Tautoko – family support

Our Māori liaison, Vanessa Eldridge, (Kahungunu, Rongomaiwahine) is available for on going support at times of grief. Vanessa can meet with whānau to see if Hospice is right for them and become comfortable with the Hopsice’s service. At this time issues around identity, wairuatanga, previous grief and losses and whānau disconnect may arise.   Vanessa and our counselling team are also here to help in bereavement.

Please contact Vanessa with any queries 04 237 2308 Vanessa.eldridge@marypotter.org.nz.

Manaakitangata – ensuring Māori are comfortable

The Hospice is supported by Te Pou Tautoko, a group that provides cultural support and advice. This group has kaumātua and members from Ora Toa Health, Ngāti Toa iwi, Maraeroa Health and the Hospice’s Executive team.

Our Māori liaison, Vanessa, has a commitment to Rongoā Māori. She conducts internal and external education in cultural safety, wairuatanga and caring for Māori.

Vanessa contributes widely throughout the Hospice by providing project and professional advice and she works with groups in the community around cancer support, grief and loss.

Whakamārama – understanding palliative care

The Hospice is committed to whanaungatanga in the sector. This kaupapa is supported by our community engagement programme which seeks a public health approach to palliative care and a drive to build ‘compassionate communities.’

We participate in community events such as Porirua’s annual ‘Creekfest’, co-facilitate education and work closely with Māori health providers and iwi.

We work to encourage Māori to see the Hospice as another health service available to them that it is free. We are here to coordinate, provide services and support to help whānau care for their loved ones in the way they want to, where they want to.


Manaakitangata Uplifting the mana and esteem for people with love and hospitality
Kaumātua Elder
Kahungunu Iwi name
Rongomaiwahine Iwi name
Rongoā Traditional Māori medicine
Wairuatanga Spirituality and wider interconnectedness
Whakamārama Understanding
Whanaungatanga Sharing / familiarisation
Kaupapa Subject / Value / programme
Iwi Tribe
Kōrero Talk / discuss


The Hospice uses the phrase “Whetū i te rangi” as part of its identity.

The meaning of Whetu i te rangi

In Māori mythology, the stars were gifted to Ranginui (Sky-father) by Tama-rereti who took the stars into the heavens in his great waka to create a cloak for Ranginui. This gift was to ease the grief of Ranginui after the separation from his beloved Papatuanuku (Earth mother).

Tama-Rereti was credited with first placing Te Punga (the Southern Cross), then the guardians of the seasons Rehua and Takurua (Antares and Sirius) and then Atutahi (Canopus), the Ariki of the southern skies. When this was done he emptied out all of the lesser stars that then formed Te Ikaroa (the Milky Way).

Te Pou Tautoko, the Hospice’s Māori support and advisory group, considered this whetū concept an important one for Mary Potter Hospice.

The stars were important navigational guides for Māori in their journey across the Pacific ocean to Aotearoa. As the stars guided the great Māori navigators, Mary Potter Hospice supports and guides our patients and their whānau wrapping the care around them on their final journey.

Each patient, too, is like a star guiding the Hospice and its work. And our patients are with us in our memories and hearts, like the stars in the sky, when their journey ends.

When we travel away from home the whetū are always there – unchanging in our lifetime. We see them and are reminded of home. We remember the journeys our ancestors took in waka to come to this land. We know these same whetū can always bring us home to Aotearoa too.

This is the depth of meaning that brought ‘Whetū i te rangi’ to the fore for Mary Potter Hospice and its work.

In te Ao Māori (the Māori world) when an Ariki, a chiefly or sacred person died, reference was made to ‘kua wheturangitia’ – to become a star in the sky. This reference is still used with formal Māori speeches at tangi or funerals, and indeed continues to be used in generic discussion.

At Mary Potter Hospice we may express ‘Whetū i te rangi’ in the following ways:

  • whetū – each patient is an individual ‘whetū’ and is cared for in that focused way.
  • guidance and connection – the whetū (patients / whānau) guide our work and service. We work with them before, during, and after their death.
  • the Hospice service is a whetū, that provides support and a navigational guide for this final journey for our patient and their whānau.
  • navigation home – our patients and their whānau come from all walks of life, from the four winds of the earth. Some view death as the final homecoming. Death is a final journey that all humans have in common. Every person in Aotearoa is, or has a travelling ancestor, with a sense of adventure to bring them here – all in Aotearoa have this common journey story.

‘Whetū i te rangi’ is a reminder to patients / whānau that their departed loved ones, and Mary Potter Hospice, are always ‘with you’.

Ngati Toa and the Hospice’s Porirua base

The site of Mary Potter Hospice’s office and retail outlet at 1 Prosser St is place of great historical importance.

By the 1850s, most of the Ngati Toa population in Porirua had left their settlements located around the shores of the harbour and moved to Takapuwahia and the gentle slopes of the Te Uru Kahika kainga, an unfortified settlement usually located near a food source. Te Uru Kahika was situated near the present site of 1 Prosser Street.

Welsh immigrant Jos (Joshua) Prosser settled in Porirua in the 1870s and married Raiha Tiapo, daughter of Ngati Toa chief Rawiri Kingi Puaha.

Through his marriage, Jos farmed the land. The Prosser homestead was located just east of Te Uru Kahika. He established Prosser’s Coaches, which ran a service between Foxton and Wellington, and very successful racing stables.

Joshua died in 1927 and his son David carried on with the stables and farm. He was a Makara County Councillor and member of the Ngati Toa Tribal Committee. He owned the local hall, known as Prosser’s Hall.

In 1966, GEC opened its plant on the site of 1 Prosser Street. It had the contract to make the Government’s Post Office telephones. In 1998 GEC sold the property to Rexel Group who later sold it to Pierlite who put on the market in 2008.

In 2011 Mary Potter Hospice leased space from the new owners for its community team and shop.

(Thanks to Pataka Museum for this information.)