June Te Rina Walker-Mead

Ngāti Porou

1929 -

June Walker/Mead was born in Tutumatai Station, Ruatoria, and was educated at Whakawhitira Māori School and St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College. She continued her studies at Auckland Teachers’ College and Hamilton Teachers’ College and gained a trained teacher’s certificate. She studied at Auckland and Victoria Universities and graduated with a B.A. in Māori and English in the early 1980s. Through Massey University she gained a Post-graduate Diploma in Second Language Teaching in 1983. Mead has worked as a teacher in primary and secondary schools, and was a dual appointment (Headmaster and Senior Mistress), with her husband, Hirini, at Minginui School, Waimarama Māori School, and Whatawhata School. She later taught Māori and English at Auckland Girls’ Grammar at a time when it was one of the few state schools offering Māori in the curriculum. Mead taught at the School for the Deaf in Auckland, and at the New Zealand Correspondence School from She was H.O.D in the bilingual unit at Wellington High School and has lectured in English at Ardmore Teachers’ College. Mead has been a researcher for Policy and Planning in the Department of Māori Affairs. During the Te Māori exhibition June and Hirini were made Cultural Ambassadors by the government: the Hon. Mike Moore said in his citation that "they have done great work for New Zealand overseas, voluntarily and without payment. The ambassadorships are one way of recognising their efforts and their mana overseas." [Evening Post 4 April 1986] June was also education advisory officer to the host museums for Te Māori in the United States and in New Zealand.

She has been an executive member of the Wellington Language Teachers’ Association, a member of the editorial committee of Voices magazine, president of the Wellington Māori Language Teachers’ Association and representative on the Wellington Regional Women’s Association on the National Council of Women. Mead was a committee member of the Save Queen Victoria School campaign, and was on the Prime Minister’s Working Party for Crime Prevention.

Mead formed a branch of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in Hawkes Bay and has been involved in the establishment of two new marae at Victoria University and Ngāti Porou ki Poneke. Mead established the library for the Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi in Whakatane and served on its academic board. She has attended a writing workshop and writes short stories, radio plays and non-fiction articles in publications including Voices on the teaching of Māori. When she worked for the Correspondence School Mead wrote bi-lingual lessons in Māori and English in the form of plays for radio broadcast to schools, and also wrote and produced a television pilot programme entitled “Māori Origins.” In 1998 she was engaged as special projects coordinator on the National Organising Committee for the 6th International Congress of Ethnobiologists that was convened in Whakatane in November 1998. Mead has three daughters and ten mokopuna, and is working on a family history with her nephew.

Biographical sources

  • Correspondence and phone conversation with June Mead, 2 Feb, 19 Aug. 1998, 7 July 2004, 31 Mar., 14 Sept. and 9 Nov. 2005.


  • "Māori Origins." No details.
  • Pilot programme for Educational television that was screened in the mid-1980s.
  • Non-fiction

  • "The Southwest, U.S.A.: The Indians and some of their Dances." S. M. Mead and J. E. Mead. Te Ao Hou 65 (1968/69): 10-22.
  • A comprehensive account of the Meads’ visits to Indian tribal areas in the Southwest area of the United States during Hirini Mead’s three-year doctoral studies at the University of Southern Illinois.
  • Introduction. Te Māori: Te Hokinga mai/the return home: Resource Kit, 1986/87. With Hirini Mead. Text and trans. Dept. of Māori Studies U of Victoria, Wellington, N.Z. Photography by Brian Brake and Athol McCredie. Audio programme prod. Piripi Walker and narrated by Kimo Winiata. [Auckland, N.Z.]: Auckland City Art Gallery on behalf of the Te Māori Management Committee and the Dept. of Education, 1986.
  • This resource kit, produced to accompany the touring Te Māori exhibition in the four main centres during 1986-1987, includes a set of postcards, an audiotape prepared by Piripi Walker of Radio New Zealand and copied by EMI, and bi-lingual notes prepared by the Department of Māori Studies, Victoria University. Hirini Moko Mead, as Co-Curator of Te Māori, and June Te Rina Mead, as Education Adviser, provide a brief introduction outlining the purposes of the resource kit and an itinerary of Te Māori showings in New Zealand.
  • "Incorporating Taha Māori into Home Economics." Home Economics Journal. Ed. Primrose Appleby. Wellington, N.Z., 1986. No further details.
  • A paper presented to the First National Conference of the Home Economics Teachers’ Associatiion of New Zealand, held at Heretaunga C.I.T. from 12-16 May 1985. Mead states that this paper ‘was relating the values of taha Māori, and the tangible and intangible elements of culture with the new syllabus of Home Economics.’
  • "Te Māori in St Louis." Voices. Ed. Jessie Munroe. Wellington, N.Z.: Wellington, N.Z. Language Teachers’ Association, Oct, 1986. No further details.
  • An account of the Te Māori opening ceremonies in St Louis, Missouri.
  • Sound recordings

  • Correspondence School Broadcast to Schools. 1981-82. No details.
  • Mead was involved with writing a number of plays putting language into a cultural context for distance learners.