National | May Mackey

Kuia celebrates Mother's Day two days before 100th birthday

Pākehā stalwart for Māori, May Mackey, is a mother of five and a great-grandmother of more than 50 children. “Mum is a mother of all, she's mā, she’s mum, she's a godsend,” daughter Tina Mackey (Tainui) says.

Born on 12 May 1920, May Mackey, known to most as 'Mā', is a former choirmaster and a recipient of the Queen’s Service Medal for her work among prisoners across more than three decades from the 1980s, including those held in Paremoremo and Mt Eden prisons.

May Mackey received a Queen's Medal for her work among prisoners for 30 years. Photo / Supplied.

Although she is Pākehā by descent, May lived a life full of service to Ngāi Māori and even learned te reo while serving as a missionary in her younger years.

“She was taken up North to live with those people, and there she learned the Māori language and decided that’s what she wanted to do. When everyone was sent overseas for missionary work, she decided to stay in New Zealand,” Tina Mackey says.

Although she is nearing a century in age, Tina says her mother is still as sharp as a tack and many of the personality traits that she has always been known for are still very much alive, as the carers at Elizabeth Knox rest home in Auckland can attest.

“Most that work with her in the rest home know this, that mum will have her way because she's used to working with people.”

Although many of her family members live overseas, they have individually called her and are planning a mass zoom call with her for her birthday on Tuesday.

Tina says fondly of her mum, “We love you to bits and we are so proud that you are our mum. I know that you are a mother to everyone but you're our mum and that is so special.”