Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 43, September 1999


The death occurred at the Cook Hospital, Gisborne, on 18 October 1998 of Rev. Canon Gordon Kaa of Paeroa. Gordon had been unwell for some time and, three days prior to his death, he took ill at the funeral of Rev. Canon Kepa Paenga, the clergyman who had been instrumental in providing Gordon with his early training in ministry within the Anglican Church on the East Coast. Of the fourteen men that Gordon trained with, only he and a cousin, Piniaha Wanoa, eventually became priests.

Gordon Kaa was born in 1914 at Rangitukia, on the East Coast. He attended primary school in the region and afterwards worked for his parents on their sheep and dairy farm. He married Rose Ngaroohi in 1932. In 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War, his three older brothers and five nephews went off to the War as members of the Maori Battalion and Gordon took over the running of the sheep farm. While Gordon did his duty as a member of the Home Guard, Rose looked after the farm. Gordon and Rose raised seven children.

After Gordon and Rose moved off the farm, they ran a market garden at Rangitukia. In 1960 there was a drop in market prices and, with a desire for their children to be well educated (two children were then attending secondary school), they took employment, firstly on a dairy farm at Pukekapia, seven miles from Huntly, and then on another farm, closer to Huntly. During this time they came into contact with the Rev. Wi Te Tau Huata, who encouraged Gordon to pursue a life in the Anglican ministry. Gordon was then aged 46.

In 1963 Gordon was appointed to the position of a stipendiary lay reader at St. John's Tamatera in Paeroa and the family arrived there on 4 April 1964. He later spent a term at St. John's Theological College, Auckland and was appointed Curate of the Piako Maori Pastorate in 1966. He was ordained a deacon on 30 November 1967 at a service in Morrinsville and after being ordained a Priest at Te Awamutu on 30 November 1968, he was appointed Priest in Charge of the Piako Maori Pastorate.

In January 1971 Gordon was appointed Priest in Charge of the Waitomo Maori Pastorate and the family moved to Te Kuiti. In 1978 he was appointed as Maori Pastor at Waipiro Bay and of the parochial district based in Ruatoria, fulfilling a desire to serve his own people on the East Coast.

Rev. Kaa retired to Paeroa in January 1981 but continued as assistant priest at St. Paul's, Paeroa and at St. John's Tamatera, Paeroa. On Sunday 11 June 1989, at a service held at the Te Pai o Hauraki Marae, Paeroa, Rev. Kaa was made a Canon of the Anglican Church. At the time, at the age of 75, he commented that his 25 years of ministry had been all pluses, with definitely no regrets.

Rev. Kaa carried out duties as Chaplain to the Paeroa Borough Council, taught Maori language classes at Paeroa College and he was a foundation member and a long time, faithful and appreciated member of the Paeroa & District Historical Society Committee.

He is survived by his wife, Rose, children and grandchildren