Topics: Education, Kapa Haka, Waka Ama

Teacher did not dictate, but exemplified – Hammond Matua on the late George Pomana

By Gloria (Korōria) Taumaunu
  • Auckland

George Pomana now lies on the porch of the house he help to complete. The respected teacher (62) died yesterday after a long illness.  Today he was welcomed by students of James Cook High Schook to Te Pou Herenga Waka Marae, where he will lie for one night before returning to his marae.

An inspiring figure who brought change to benefit the youth.

Hammond Matua, Māori Teacher - Te Kura Tuarua o James Cook says, “He dreamed of creating a place for the people of South Auckland. He was passionate about the youth, he wanted to see them achieve. His motto was if something was difficult, give it your best go. Go down fighting like the hammerhead shark, not easy like the octopus.  He fought hard for everything that he did.” 

He applied that philosophy in taking the school's haka team to the pinnacle of the ASB Polyfest and  achieving the feat of hosting the festival a total of four times. He established James Cook High School's Māori unit, Te Pūtake and completed the school's marae complex, a mission he inherited from former colleague Maahia Nathan.

Former colleague, Maahia Nathan says, “The meeting house stood on the other side of the school.  We wanted it to be moved to the front of the school so that it was the first thing that visitors saw.”

But Hori and I didn't quite manage it then.  I told him that I was leaving and that it would be up to him to achieve the dream. And this marae is the result.

His many achievements remain as a legacy to those whose education he fostered.

Former student, Te Teira Williams says, “He taught us about the wider world, that which exists beyond school.  He created pathways for all of us to follow in unity.”

Hammond says, “These words were holy to him, "Attain excellence", "Achieve your goals".  He embodied these words every day. He did not dictate, but exemplified these values for the kids to emulate.”   

George will lie in this house that he helped build, before he is returned to his home people of Matakana Island. The funeral service begins Friday 11am.