Thursday, 26 November 2020


Anna’s vision of an orchard garden will be completed in her memory

A living tribute in the form of an orchard garden will be how the Te Rerenga school community will remember and commemorate their beloved former principal, Anna Yates, whose two-and-a-half-year fight against cancer came to an end on 19 August.

The 43-year-old wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend, renowned for her beaming smile, was farewelled at a Celebration of Life service streamed live from Crossroads Church in Whitianga on Monday last week to reach the many family, friends and colleagues unable to attend due to the COVID-19 Level 2 restrictions. Anna formally retired from her role in September last year, spending her precious remaining months with her family. Heart-shaped messages of love written by the Te Rerenga School children at that time were attached to the backs of the chairs at the service, conveying to those present how much Anna meant to her students.

Favourite songs and stories of the loving, generous, fun-filled and super stubborn mother-of-two who was infamous for her kindness along with her shopping obsession, coloured the service, as did the bright shades and florals worn at Anna’s request by those in attendance. Also shining through was the strength, positivity and humour with which she travelled through her cancer journey, continually defying expectations, spurred on by her desire to give her family as much love as she could, before saying goodbye.

Her family were by her side as she passed away peacefully at home where the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society, local hospice nurses and the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust all contributed to helping her loved ones care for her in her final weeks.

“Anna was a very special lady, and a wonderful educator and effective leader who was loved and will be missed by many current students and families in our Te Rerenga School community,” current Te Rerenga School principal, Mary Kedzlie, said.

In tribute to the former principal, all past, present and future families of the school have been invited to contribute to the completion of a project that Anna herself had imagined and begun to develop. “Anna’s vision was to have a thriving orchard where the children could pick fruit from the trees while playing there,” Mary said. “We would like to further develop what is already established by planting additional trees and by having a memorial seat placed in the orchard.” Further shade trees and natives will also be planted around the school grounds with parents, children and whānau able to contribute both money or mahi to make the project happen.

“The Te Rerenga School Board of Trustees has also begun planting a wind belt along the fence line to protect the trees in the orchard as they grow and has purchased over 100 trees for this purpose,” Mary said. “There are still more trees that need planting that have been put into position. If you have a spare moment and would like to come to school with your spade and plant a tree or 10, we welcome you to do so. Just arrive at the office and we’ll show you where the trees are to be planted.”

Speaking at Anna’s service, her parents, Colin and Glenda, and brother, Matt, recalled Anna’s brave journey, her determination and positivity and her huge appetite for life, love and adventure. Friends described a wise and passionate educator who poured her heart and soul into ensuring the children of Te Rerenga School loved learning and loved their school.

And Anna’s husband, Darrell, with daughters Caitlyn and Sophia alongside him, thanked all those who had been involved in taking care of the adoring mother with a wicked sense of humour, loved by all who met her. “We have lost a beautiful lady, God has gained a beautiful angel,” he said.

Pictured: Former Te Rerenga School principal, Anna Yates, with her daughter, Caitlyn, during her farewell from the school on 3 September 2019. Anna’s two-and-a-half-year fight against cancer came to an end on 19 August this year.


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