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Being Grateful – Rewa Harker

Why Silverfox model and Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust organiser Rewa Harker finds that giving back to the community feels so good.

For Great Full's second project –  bum huggers –  renowned fashion photographer Hannah Richards joined by stylist Eloise Morin and makeup artist Virginia Carde, made beautiful images of Rewa Harker from Silverfox.

Wearing Shane Hansen's He Ātaahua Te Mauri Ora and Michel Tuffery's Woven Stars is significant to Rewa – her late grandmother was a constant source of strength and her mother is currently being treated for bowel cancer. Here, Rewa talks to us about how her life in New Zealand is Great Full. 

Inspired by the artist's ancestry, Michel Tuffery's Woven Stars design has special meaning to Rewa.

We respect the land we live on. 
I was born in Wairoa which was a wonderful place to grow up as a child – lots of swimming and running around. My Iwi is Ngāti Kahungunu and I was raised by a wonderful whānau who made me feel very loved. Piha is now home - another really beautiful place with a great community. I make the most of the beach, tennis and the wonderful walks.  

We are a community.
I work for Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust, an organisation whose goal is to support positive change for whānau, including health, housing, social justice and education. What I enjoy most are the amazing people I work with and their commitment to providing quality services to our whānau.

We embrace our families, both blood and created.
I’m inspired by my whanau, especially my mother and father. They raised five girls whilst working and also supported extended whānau when they needed help. Dad was an incredible diver and cook – we ate like kings! Swimming in the ocean, especially through winter is something that totally energises me. “One never regrets a swim” is a family motto of ours. 

We celebrate our unity.   
I love to buy local produce and support local businesses, especially in today’s environment when they need our support more than ever. My sister has a fish and chip shop in Wairoa – The Ponderosa - the best fish and chips around. Our local businesses in Piha are ones I like to support too such as the Piha Café, Piha Dairy (best pies in Aotearoa!), the local RSA and Bowling Club. Murray’s Café is another local takeaway out here that’s also awesome. And I love NZ designers. My favourite artist, Ngaromoana Raureti, lives in Mahia.    

We honour those who have given of themselves for our livelihood.
My Grandmother Mei Tipoki and I were very close. She raised 12 children of her own and also raised (whangai) many of her mokopuna, myself included until I was 7 years of age. Her husband died quite young and she never remarried but managed to raise so many of us in the most incredible way, single-handedly. She was always there when we needed her. She also spent hours in the garden every day and had this huge fruit and vegetable garden. It was massive. She took care of the gardens at our local marae Putahi too and I spent many days playing there while she tended to the gardens. She was everything to me. 

Like the tui that features in Shane Hansen's design, Rewa's grandmother was a source of strength.

We are grateful.
I’m grateful for my children, Pani and Moana, and I’m the proud grandmother of two mokopuna, Deniro and Honey-Mei, who I adore. I’m grateful for my health and the beautiful place we live in. I’m also grateful for my whānau and friends. Appreciate those who love you, they are everything. 

We are aroha.
My fierce and amazing mother has been living with bowel cancer for some time. She is one of the most resilient people I know. It’s such a horrible disease but she deals with it in such a dignified way - she just gets on with life and makes an effort to live life to the fullest. Her great grandchildren especially bring her joy, as do her gardens and Dad’s cooking. 

My Mother received excellent care by the doctors through her surgery and ongoing medical assistance since then. However, Mum lives in a rural community and has to travel to Napier for her follow-up appointments. It would be wonderful if rural communities received more assistance, particularly for the elderly to access services more easily. 

We share our faith in the future.
Having witnessed what mum has endured, it’s clear to me how important it is to raise money and awareness to help prevent other people from this awful disease and to make things better for those who are diagnosed. Giving back where you can helps keep our community strong – plus it can give you a sense of belonging and makes you feel good!