Mildred Amelia (Mīria) Woodbine Johnson (Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki) was born in Poverty Bay in 1876.
In 1903 she married Māui Pomare, a physician and surgeon who went on to become a prominent politician. The couple had three children and made their home in Western Hutt. Their house, Hiwiroa, nestled in an eight-acre estate that lay on Te Rangihaeata’s old track to the Hutt Valley.
Mīria Pōmare is best remembered for her community work. In 1915 she and Lady Liverpool (the wife of the Governor) launched Lady Liverpool’s and Mrs Pomare’s Maori Soldiers’ Fund. The organisation provided comforts for Māori soldiers overseas.
In 1918 Mīria was appointed an OBE for her service.
As president of the Ngati Poneke Maori Mission Society, Mīria Pomare was responsible for raising funds and organising social functions. The Society gave birth to the Ngati Poneke Young Maori Club in 1937. In the 1940s it was responsible for the formation of the Ngati Poneke Maori Association, an organisation for Māori residing in Wellington city.
Mīria Pomare died at Lower Hutt on 7 September 1971, aged 93, survived by her daughter, Ana. Her ashes were buried beside those of her husband, who had died in 1930, and her sons Te Rakaherea and Naera, at Manukorihi pa in Waitara.
In 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world in which all women gained the right to vote in general elections. 2018 marks the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. For more information about the anniversary visit Suffrage 125 on Facebook.
This is part of a series sharing the stories and lives of women who have a connection to Lower Hutt.