My wife and I moved back to Gisborne in 1998 to live with and care for her elderly grandparents.
Matini and Lena Koia raised Tarsh as their own child, she grew up living in the same house as her uncles and aunties until they moved out and eventually Tarsh left Gisborne to undertake her studies in Maori and Politics at Canterbury University.
Matini was a shepherd and farmer up the Coast all his life – other than a stint as an under-age soldier going off as a member of J-Force to occupied Japan after the war. He was an expert geneologist and had great stories about growing up around Tikitiki and Port Awanui! Lena grew up around Makarika as the daughter of the local midwife and raised 11 of her own children, as well as Tarsh.
Being raised by a grandparent is a special privilege – Tarsh has inherited some of her grandparents best attributes, their wisdom, humility and much of the knowledge they passed on.
Living with Matini and Lena as a young married couple was a great experience – seeing how these two 70-somethings loved, forgave and cared for each other was the best marriage guidance we could have hoped for as newly weds.
It was a great experience for all of us living together for the four years. While Matini was very sick with respitory illness and Lena has alzhiemers, we shared many stories, good laughs and a few times of tears.
Matini passed away exactly one year before our daughter Miria was born. She was named after his mother and we will make sure she knows Matini as well as we did.