Hundreds mourn much-loved drama teacher

Wakatipu High School pupils and friends performing the haka to remember the school’s head of...
Wakatipu High School pupils and friends performing the haka to remember the school’s head of drama, Kate Moetaua, at her funeral, near Arrowtown, yesterday. Photo: Joshua Walton
Hundreds of people filled an Arrowtown stables building yesterday to pay their respects at the funeral of much-loved teacher Kate Moetaua.

Wakatipu High School’s head of drama, Mrs Moetaua, died aged 45 last Friday after a long battle with melanoma, a severe form of skin cancer.

Friends and family packed Moonlight Stables to the rafters to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow in her memory and pay tribute to the mother-of-three.

Her husband Teaukura said "this is such an amazing community" and remembered his wife as an "amazing lady, who touched a lot of hearts".

"She battled hard, real hard, and it was tough.

"Thank you for the amazing support you have given us over the years, it has been absolutely amazing."

Loved ones remembered Mrs Moetaua as a talented orator, actress, children’s book writer and horse rider, who showed "true grit" in all she did.

Her mother, Wendy Glover, said they shared a special "love of literature" and recalled some of her daughter’s earliest moments as a performer and reciter of poetry.

Mrs Moetaua’s brother, Ben Glover, said she showed "persistence, fortitude, self-belief and courage."

"She had this in spades."

Mrs Moetaua, who was also a house dean at Wakatipu High for many years, ran the Kate Moetaua School of Drama, now known as Drama Queenstown.

The Queenstown community raised more than $80,000 in an online fundraising campaign last year to help pay for a drug to treat her melanoma.

She started teaching again a short while before her death and even directed pupils in the finals of a national one-act play competition two months ago.

Mrs Moetaua, originally from Blenheim, was survived by her husband and daughters, Anika (15), Aya (10), and Malia (8).

Queenstown’s mayor Jim Boult attended the funeral with his daughter Victoria, a former student of Mrs Moetaua, who spoke, along with several other friends and family members.

Mrs Moetaua’s old pupils gathered outside the venue after the funeral to perform the haka in her memory.

Plans were under way to set up the Kate Moetaua Foundation in order to support children with a passion for sport and the arts.

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