Meri Mygind nee Aratema worked as the Senior Māori Reference Librarian in Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa – National Library of New Zealand. Meri also lectured in Māori Information Management at Te Wānanga o Raukawa in Ōtaki and provided reference and research advice to the Linden and Whakatāne campuses of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, the Tenths Trust, the Te Āti Awa Trust board and to colleagues, friends and whānau around the county and the world. 


This memorial award was presented by Te Rōpū Māori – Māori Staff Association of the National Library of New Zealand – Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa to Te Rōpū Whakahau at Takapuwahia Marae in 2007 in memory of Meri Mygind (Te Āti Awa and Ngāti Awa) and Senior Māori Reference Librarian at the National Library.

  • The award represents Meri’s personal and professional commitment in all areas of Māori librarianship and information management and is awarded to wahine Māori in Te Rōpū Whakahau.
  • The award is a tukutuku patiki titled Pouhine.  It embodies Meri’s commitment in taking care of manuwhiri in libraries and was created by Kohai Grace of Ngāti Toa / Ngāti Raukawa / Te Āti Awa.


  • The award will be presented to a female, Māori member who has shown initiative, creativity, dedication and promotion of Māori services within libraries, archives and information repositories and within Te Rōpū Whakahau.

Any member may be nominated, but all nominees must consent to their inclusion.

  • Nominations for the award must be written and can be submitted at anytime during the year, with the closing date of one week prior to hui-ā-tau. Email nominations to 
  • A nomination for the award must include a written account stating how the nominee has shown initiative, creativity, dedication and promotion Māori services within libraries, archives and repositories within Te Rōpū Whakahau.
  • The successful candidate will be notified by correspondence in the new year and will be asked to attend the Te Rōpū Whakahau Hui-ā-Tau to accept the award in person.
  • Ngā Kaiwhakahau will shortlist applicants for the award and select a recipient.

List of Recipients

2009 – Haneta Pierce
2010 – Raewyn Paewai
2011 – Ann Reweti
2012 – Tangimeriana Rua
2013 – Frances Reiri-Smith
2014 – Anahera Sadler
2015 – Vicki-Anne Heikell
2016 – Te Paea Paringatai
2017 – Ria Wihapi-Waikerepuru

Ria Wihapi-Waikerepuru (Ngāti Ruanui, Taranaki, Tangahoe, Te Ātiawa, Ngapuhi, Te Arawa)

Ria is the Kaiwhakarato Pārongo Māori at the Manawatū Campus. Since starting at Massey in 2014 Ria has been a gentle, knowledgeable, calm member of the team within the library. In her quiet, humble way Ria taught students, academic, visitors and library staff how to be comfortable speaking te reo Māori, purely by osmosis.  She achieved this by greeting every person every day with the basic of phrases, “Mōrena” or “Kia ora” resulting in positive, reciprocated responses in te reo.

Listed below are some of the many reasons why she deserving of the Meri Mygind Wahine Toa Award:

  • Instrumental in building strong connections between Māori Services and Massey International Office by organising and developing harakeke sessions for international students as part of Matariki. This was a well prepared initiative that ran for two years. The spinoff from this is we are now supporting a university intiative to give international students a marae experience.
  • Facilitated Library Waiata sessions when needed.
  • Kaikaranga at short notice for various graduations at Massey- this has been great for my confidence in learning karanga too and also had spinoffs to her whānau as well
  • Contributes to Massey’s Māori Language Month activities with a “Keep It Simple” approach
  • Over the last two years she has been teaching keen library staff how to weave and they are now confident they are teaching other library staff
  • Her artwork features on the Massey library homepage and they have been created as different banners for use in email or pānui
  • Huge role in the project to commemorate 100 years of the war by doing a poppy installation in the gardens around the Manawatū Library
  • Actively shares the benefits of our Māori resources with Massey students and Massey staff and she is the main purchaser for our Māori collection. (Ngā Kupu Ora -Manawatū)
  • Very helpful and supportive of Postgraduate student research. Last year we also took on Postgraduate Pasifika students and Ria has facilitated navigation and familiarisation visits
  • One of the lead figures for hui-ā-tau in Parihaka last year
  • Works with Te Reo o Taranaki to catalogue and process her dad’s papers, photos, video footage etc. She is leading this and has included her children and mokopuna in the project. So not only is she a Wahine Toa within the library sector but also within her whānau
  • She supports many initiatives across the university and beyond –new staff orientation, union meetings, Business School whakatau…. and when Māori teaching colleagues want to bring their primary school students to see what Massey library is like and who is there to support them. Ria is to the front organising this community outreach opportunity
  • This year the Massey Women in Leadership group have asked her to speak at their annual seminar
  • Representing Massey and Māori by attending the New Zealand Women in Leadership event held August 2017