Louise Magdalene Teowaina (Magda) Wallscott

Ngāi Tahu

1898 - 1995

Magda Wallscott was born at Pipikaretu Beach, Otakou, the daughter of Emma Karetai and Frederick Wallscott, and the great grand-daughter of Chief Karetai who signed the Treaty of Waitangi. She moved with her family to Doyleston in 1910 and attended school in Sheffield. At the age of eleven she witnessed the appearance of Haley’s Comet. When her family returned to their farm at Pipikaretu she attended Otakou School until the end of 1910. In 1911 she was sent to Te Wai Pounamu School in Christchurch and was transferred to Christchurch Girls’ High School after winning a scholarship in 1914. In 1918 she entered Christchurch Training College and boarded at Bishopscourt Hostel up till 1921. When the flu epidemic hit Christchurch in 1918, Magda was required to nurse the children of ailing parents. After training college she returned home to Otakou and taught in Stewart Island, Bluff, Wyndham, Clifton, Invercargill and Dunedin. In the Depression years when there was no work, she taught at the Stewart Island School with a roll of nine children. She went on to relieving teaching at Wyndham, Bluff and Invercargill Middle School until she went to a permanent position as assistant at Clifton, a 2-teacher school in Western Southland. Later Magda took charge of the small school on the Otakou Peninsula where she had once been a pupil. After her mother’s death in 1948, Magda moved to St Leonard’s School on the outskirts of Dunedin from which she retired in 1953. Magda became a founding member of the Māori Womens Welfare League, was the Otepoti Representative of the League for many years, was on the National Executive of Te Wai Pounamu and was the Te Wai Pounamu National Branch Delegate. She was a foundation member of the Araiteuru Cultural Club and was instrumental in helping to establish its marae in Dunedin. She had memberships of the Otakou Māori Committee, Otakou Māori Executive, Te Wai Pounamu District Council, and Māori Mission Committee. Magda was also a member of the Dunedin Branch of National Council of Women, the Old Peoples’ Welfare Council, and the Board of Directors of YWCA She was also involved in church organisations. In 1976 Magda was awarded the QSM for services to the community. In 1984 she attended the opening of Te Māori exhibition in San Francisco. In 1990 she was part of the re-enactement of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi at Ruapuke Island and was part of the Treaty celebrations in Otakau. She also has written under the name Teowaina and published a non-fiction article in Te Ao Hou 24 (1958).

Biographical sources

  • Phone call from Susan Whitau on13 March and 7 Aug 1998.


  • "Otago Māoris Build In the Old Style...With a Difference." Te Ao Hou 24 (1958): 35.
  • The author noting that ‘in these modern times examples of Māori architecture in the South Island are rare’, describes the ceremonial gates, church and hall that have been constructed at Otakou since 1940. In this article Magda uses her middle name Teowaina.
  • "Ema Umurau Karetai." 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: 339.
  • Wallscott writes of her mother, Ema Karetai, who was raised in Otakou and employed by Sir William Larnach to teach Māori to his daughters. Ema remained in the Larnach household as a companion to the youngest daughter and travelled with the Larnachs to Wellington when Parliament was in session. She married Frederick Waltsgott and they settled in Pipikaretu in Otago where Ema worked as an interpreter for the Māori Land Court and as a midwife.
  • "Remembering the Treaty." Hall of Fame: Life Stories of New Zealand Women. Comp. Olive Baylyn. Ed. Katie Pickles. Christchurch, N.Z.: Clerestory, 1998. 11-15.
  • One of sixty-eight autobiographical essays by former residents of Bishop Julius Hall.
  • Other

  • "Magda Wallscott." Te T˚matanga Tātau Tātau: Early Stories from Founding Members of the Māori Women’s Welfare League: Te Rōpu Wāhine Māori Toko i Te Ora. As told to Dame Mira Szaszy. Ed. Anna Rogers and Miria Simpson (Wāhanga Māori). Photographs by Margaret Kawharu. Wellington, N.Z.: Māori Women’s Welfare League; Bridget Williams, 1993. 302-307.
  • Autobiographical accounts of Magda Wallscott’s life taken from an interview on 3 March 1990.


  • Ogonowska-Coates, Halina. Invincible Women: A Collection of Herstories. Christchurch, N.Z.: Christchurch College of Education, 1995.