Tribute to Paddy Walker

15 July 2015

Distinguished Fellow Eleitino Edwina Diana Patricia Walker has passed away, aged 98. She leaves a legacy of creating influential and positive change within education that impacts many lives.

On April 3 last year, an intimate ceremony was held at the home of Eleitino Edwina Diana Patricia Walker, known to many as ‘Paddy’, in Titikaveka, Rarotonga, where she was bestowed the highest recognition for an academic from the School of Critical Studies in Education (CRSTIE), at the Faculty of Education and Social Work.

Paddy was given a Distinguished Fellow Award for her outstanding service and leadership in the field of education, knowledge creation, curriculum development, and her pioneering work in peace education.

Paddy became the first ever Pacific person and non-academic to have received the honour of this highly acclaimed award.

Faculty of Education and Social Work lecturer Manutai Leaupepe attended the ceremony last year.

 “I was both humbled and privileged to have had the opportunity to be part of such an occasion where we acknowledged and celebrated Paddy’s accomplishments," Manutai said.

“For me, to be in the presence of this amazing woman was an inspiring and moving experience. Paddy chose to reside in my homeland in the Cook Islands for almost three decades. We instantly made a connection and shared our passion for the advancement of the Cook Islands people. Her life-long commitment to education, Pacific women and peace within the Pacific is a testament of Paddy’s unwavering loyalty ‘to serve and to be of service to others’. I am truly blessed. My time with Paddy will be cherished.”

Associate Professor Airini and former Head of School for CRSTIE described Paddy as “an exceptional woman and education leader in the field of transformative education”.

Dr Diane Mara, former Associate Dean Pasifika at the Faculty of Education, referred to her long-time friend as “the quintessential Pacific woman, full of grace, love, honour and humility”. She praised Paddy’s advocacy for Pacific women and her work ethics, placing people at the heart of what she did.

Dr Mara recalls vividly her first meeting in 1976 when Paddy, as an Auckland City Councillor and a member of the United Nations’ Women’s Year, called together Pacific women to a meeting at the YWCA in Queen Street, Auckland. That group of sixteen women became the organising committee of the first Pacific Women’s Conference and later established the Pacific Allied [Women’s] Council Inspires Faith in Ideals Concerning All (PACIFICA).

Dr Mara talks about Paddy as being “an inspirational woman partly because she broke the barriers for women in public life, but because of her personal strength and resolve to bring women to a vision of their own potential”.

Paddy’s achievements included:

  • Founder and serving president of the Pacific Allied [Women’s] Council Inspires Faith in Ideals Concerning All (PACIFICA)
  • Executive member of the Pan-Pacific-South-East-Asian Women’s Association
  • Leader in UNICEF
  • Advocate for Pasifika people at local and national level
  • Gifted pianist and composer
  • Advocate for Pacific languages in curriculum developments and programmes
  • Author of children’s books and songs
  • Advocate for Pacific community developments and sustainability
  • Auckland City Council member
  • Appointed an International Peace Ambassador
  • Inspired the concept and movement of the ‘Peace Gardens’ around the world
  • Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009
  • Mentor to many

We pay tribute to a remarkable and exceptional woman, pioneer, advocate and peace activist whose legacy will continue to inspire and touch the lives of many.

A funeral service for Paddy will be held at St Mary’s Church Cathedral, Parnell Auckland, at 2pm  Wednesday July 15.  

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