In Memory of Richelle Kahui-McConnell

Published by Ella van Gool on

Richelle Kahui–McConnell, Earth Healer, Founding Member of APPA

We pause to properly honour Richelle.

Richelle’s legacy, both in APPA and in all of her mahi, is so large, multifaceted and positive that it is impossible to do it justice through words on this page. Her contribution to APPA as a founding member was unparalleled and gifted APPA with easily its most important guiding values and principles. And no one so prominent has ever been harder working, ever-present and such a good listener.

In her own words, Richelle joined the APPA whānau in 2018 for the following reasons:

‘One thing I would like to offer is that my true passion is to see our potential in marrying mātauranga Māori and Science and Kaitiakitanga with Action. …I am an instant gratification kind of person and so now would like to ask about bringing your knowledge to our people.

‘Through Para Kore ki Tāmaki, Para Kore Marae Inc., and Pacific Vision Aotearoa we have a very unique and purposeful opportunity to take your scientific knowledge to our rangatahi/māpu to inform and empower their decisions. All three Zero Waste programmes are tangibly connected with their whānau and are visionaries in their application of traditional knowledge and environmental protection of Papatūānuku.’

With the email alias of ‘Godessalive’ and the title of ‘Environmental and Social Capital Broker’, Richelle eventually graduated to Kaiwhakaora Whenua (Earth Healer) during her time as founder and member of APPA.

Richelle’s participation in APPA’s formation ensured that te Ao Māori principles were integrated into our founding documents and constitution, something which APPA is so privileged to have. APPA is thankful for Richelle’s patient and clear explanations of the principles, and particularly how to turn these into actions. These foundations form the core of APPA’s being, values, and future.

Most of APPA only had chance to meet with Richelle virtually, yet it was always a rich experience. When she joined the zoom meetings, Richelle filled our screens with a vibrant and colourful energy, infectious and beautiful smiles, laughter and dedicated, serious work with at times unexpected turns.

In June 2019 Richelle stepped down from APPA to ‘enjoy the opportunity of the journey towards healing’.

It was with utmost sadness that we learned about Richelle’s passing in 2020 through her beautiful daughter.

Richelle has impacted everyone and everything on her mission to heal the earth, and APPA is grateful to have been touched during her journey. We strive to honour Richelle’s legacy and mission in all APPA’s mahi.

He whetū kua ruia ki te rangi hei arahia i a mātou i te ara whakaora
– A star sown in the sky that will guide us on this pathway to wellness.

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Ella van Gool

Ella van Gool

Co-Founder and Trustee of APPA. I have submitted a doctoral thesis on the relationship between waste management and debris on beaches. Now, I'm working with Eunomia Consulting on a research project for MfE to quantify and qualify waste recovery streams in Aotearoa.

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