Heni Materoa Sunderland née Brown

Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, Rongowhakaata

1916 -

She was born at Manutuke and grew up in Muriwai. She was educated at the Muriwai school from She worked for the Anglican Māori Mission in the 1930s and 1940s and in 1960 began working as a community officer for Gisborne Māori Affairs Department. She is a member of the tribal council, Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa, which represents the three Poverty Bay tribes: Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Ngai Tamanuhiri. She married James Hewart Sunderland in 1955 and has a son, Michael Sunderland. She is a J.P. and has been awarded the QSM.

Biographical sources

  • Correspondence with Heni Sunderland, 15 July 1998.
  • Sunderland, Heni. "Heni Sunderland." Ngā Mōrehu/The Survivors. Ed. Judith Binney and Gillian Chaplain. Auckland, N.Z.: Oxford UP, 1986. 110-112.


  • "Heni Sunderland." Ngā Mōrehu/The Survivors. Ed. Judith Binney and Gillian Chaplain. Auckland, N.Z.: Oxford UP, 1986. 108-129.
  • This autobiographical account is taken from taped conversations and notes drawn from Binney and Chaplain’s three visits to Heni Sunderland in 1983 and 1984. Sunderland, one of fifteen children, was raised by various family members including her great-grandmother, Mere Kingi, and her grandparents Paku and Motoi Brown. Sunderland recalls the rich childhood with her grandparents - learning the tapu laws of the old people, witnessing the Ringatu customs and spirituality of their nurses and tohunga, and recalling many family anecdotes. After her education at the Muriwai school, Sunderland worked for the Anglican Māori Mission for fourteen years in Tokomaru, Rotorua, Ruatoki and Manutuke. In 1960 she joined Māori Affairs as a Community Officer - a position she held for twenty-one years. The oral account concludes with Sunderland discussing the issue of speaking rights and gender roles on the marae.
  • Non-fiction

  • "Mere Kingi Paraone." The Book of New Zealand Women - Ko Kui Ma Te Kaupapa. Ed. Charlotte Macdonald, Merimeri Penfold and Bridget Williams. Wellington, N.Z.: Bridget Williams, 1991: 493-496.
  • Co-authored with Cushla Parekowhai. Sunderland recalls memories of her great-grandmother, Mere Paraone, a Ngaitawhiri kuia who worked as a midwife in the Poverty Bay area. Sunderland writes of her childhood growing up with Paraone - a time when she learnt the planting and fishing rituals and marae protocol simply by observing the example of the elders.