Raina Makere Meha

Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Aitanga a Māhaki

1965 -

Raina Meha was born in Rotorua and grew up at Tapuaeharuru on the eastern shores of Lake Rotoiti. She was educated at Rotoiti Primary School, Mokoia Intermediate School, and Rotorua Lakes High School. Over three years she had success in the Ngarimu VC Memorial Essay in English competition: in 1980 she was awarded first prize, in 1981 she was second, and in 1982 won first prize. In 1986 she was first equal in the Blackwood Paul Memorial Essay Prize at Waikato University. From 1984-87 Raina attended Waikato University and continued her studies at Victoria University graduating with B.A.(Hons) in Māori Studies in 1989. In 1997 she graduated with M.Phil from Waikato University: her thesis was a history of the Women’s Health League. From 1988-89 she worked as a researcher at the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Waitangi Tribunal and Book of New Zealand Women in Wellington. Raina writes non-fiction historical writing, including biographical work on Māori women. She is particularly interested in lifting the profile of Māori women.

Biographical sources

  • Correspondence and phone conversation with Meha 13 May 1993, 5 and 20 July, 1998.


  • "Kahe Te Rau O Te Rangi." The Book of New Zealand Women: Ko Kui ma te Kaupapa. Ed. Charlotte MacDonald, Meremere Penfold and Bridget Williams. Wellington, N.Z.: Bridget Williams, 1991. 337-339.
  • Meha gives a brief biography of Kahe Te Rau o Te Rangi and discusses the circumstances surrounding her famous swim from Kapiti to the mainland to ‘raise the alarm’ against an impending attack on her father’s pa south of Waiorua. Te Rangi was one of the few women who signed the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • "Rangi Topeora." The Book of New Zealand Women: Ko Kui ma te Kaupapa. Ed. Charlotte MacDonald, Meremere Penfold and Bridget Williams. Wellington, N.Z.: Bridget Williams, 1991. 685-687.
  • An account of the life of Topeora who was a signatory of the Treaty of Waitangi, a Ngāti Toa chieftainess and a famous composer of waiata, which included kaioraora (cursing songs) and waiata aroha (love songs). Meha writes of the various relationships of Topeora, her courage at the battle of Waiorua and her prominence in tribal matters on the Kapiti Coast.
  • "Te Ropu o te Ora: Women’s Health League 1937-." Women Together: A History of Women’s Organisations in New Zealand: Nga Ropu Wahine o te Motu. Ed. Anne Else. Wellington, N.Z.: Daphne Brasell; Historical Branch, Dept. of Internal Affairs, 1993. 30-33.
  • Meha provides the context in which the Women’s Health League was established in 1937 and discusses the role of Nurse Robina (Ruby) Thomson Cameron and the objectives of the League. Meha writes of the social issues championed by the League - encouraging the teaching and speaking of te reo Māori in homes and schools, supporting Māori soldiers during the Second World War with food parcels, and urging the Native Affairs Department to provide housing for pensioners and young couples.
  • "Māori Women Remember?" Rea Rangiheuea and Raina Meha. Daughters of the Land/ Nga Uri Wahine a Hineahuone: A glimpse into the lives of rural women in the Rotorua region 1893-1993. Ed. Joan Boyd. Rotorua, N.Z.: The Bath-House Art & History Museum/Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa; Rotorua District Council, 1993. 60-80.
  • Meha and Rangiheuea assert that their intention in this 1993 Suffrage Centennial Year Trust Whakatu Wahine project is to ‘shed some light on the lifestyles of a few women and the significant impact they have had on their whanau, hapu and iwi in their roles as nurturers and leaders.’ They provide a history of events in Rotorua that impacted on women in the period between 1890 to the present day and present biographies of the following women, with quotations from them or their whanau: Moewai Kaipara, Ngahuia Rangititiahoa Pururu, Ema Williams, Rangikahuawe Skipwith, Eliza Raiha Serjeant, Merekorama Morrison, Sadie Matewhiu Morgan and Tai Green.
  • Papers/Presentations

  • "Te Reo Māori i Ngā Tari Kāwanatanga." Te Hui Taumata Reo Māori: Proceedings of Te Hui Taumata Reo Māori Held in Wellington, N.Z. 11-13 December 1995. Te Whanganui-a-Tara [Wellington]: Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, 1996. 125-131.
  • Meha states that this is ‘a personal account of experiences in government agencies with the Māori language, and aspirations for the next century.’
  • Theses

  • "Ko Te Ropu o Te Ora: The History of the Women’s Health League." M. Phil. Thesis. U of Waikato, 1995.
  • This thesis is a history of the Women’s Health League which was established in 1937 to improve the health and well-being of Māori. Meha tells of her family’s involvement in the Health League and uses personal communication and minute book references to tell her story.