15% households with school aged children without internet access       39% of Aucklanders born overseas       82% of 18 year olds have NCEA Level 2       22% unemployment for 15-24 year olds       94.6% attend pre-school       1 in 4 children in poverty       79% pass NCEA Literacy in Yr 11       76% at or above national reading standards starting high school

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About COMET Auckland

COMET Auckland's Kaumātua

Ina te Mahi he Rangatira  - By his deeds a Chief is known

Kaumātua are respected tribal elders in a Mâori community. They hold the knowledge and traditions of the family, sub-tribe and tribe. They are appointed by people who believe the chosen elders have the capacity to teach and guide both current and future generations. Kaumātua  have good knowledge of tikanga, history, and te reo; and their contribution ensures that the mana of the whânau, hapu, and iwi are maintained.   

COMET Auckland is very fortunate to have two hard-working kaumātua who add mana to our work. Over recent months they have guided and supported us with a recent series of kanohi-ki-te-kanohi visits to help shape COMET Auckland’s future.


Sonny Rauwhero
He aha te mea nui o te ao?  He tangata, he tangata, he tangata – What is the most important thing in the world. It is people, it is people, it is people.

From Te Akitai whanau, and Tainui iwi, Sonny hails from Port Waikato and was brought up in Mangere. He went to school at Mangere Central and left school in entrepreneurial fashion at 16.  Sonny became a social services advocate with the Department of Social Welfare, later becoming a Matua Whaangai.

With a particular interest in the future of children, especially abused children, and a focus on their parents and families, Sonny obtained a Diploma in social work through the “night school” route. Sonny’s interest in outcomes for Māori families continued through appointments with the Department of Māori Affairs and the Child Youth and Family Service.

Following three years at Te Huakina Development Trust, Matua Sonny came to MIT in 1999 as its kaumātua. Sonny is highly respected as a Tainui kaumātua and remains passionate about outcomes for families. He was responsible for naming COMET Auckland’s flagship partnership programme Te Whanau Ara Mua – the pathway to learning for families.


Kūkupa Tirikatene, ONZM
E kore e taea e te whenu kotahi ki te raranga I te whâriki kia môhio tâtou ki â tâtou. The tapestry of understanding cannot be woven by one strand alone.

Born at Rātana Pā, Whanganui, Kukupa Tirikatene is the eighth of 12 children born to Sir Eruera and Lady Ruti Matekino Tirikatene. He is Ngāi Tahu, Kāti Mâmoe, Waitaha and Ngāti Pahauwera o Te Rôpu Tûhonohono o Kahungungu.  Kukupa’s entrepreneurial spirit emerged early. He managed a retail operation at the Wellington Railway Station and later in Papakura in partnership with his wife. However, his contribution to education began when he graduated from Christchurch Teachers College in 1975 and the following year took up a position teaching te reo Mâori (his first language) at Rosehill College in Papakura.

For many years he mentored students and led Māori language learning at this school before moving in 1993 to MIT to continue passing on his language and tikanga. ‘Papa Ku’ soon became an icon for the students at the campus.  Ku served recently as Iwi Kaumātua on behalf of Ngai Tahu for the marae at Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand. 

Papa Ku is a composer of whakatauki and waiata. He has graciously allowed COMET Auckland to use his metaphor of weaving a “tapestry of understanding” as our guiding whakatauki. We also value his waiata “Pupuritia”, a powerful message about important values that underpin our lives. In 2009 Ku received a Tā Kingi Ihaka award from Creative NZ in recognition of a lifetime contribution to the development and retention of Mâori arts and culture.