Alamein Burns first came to live in Tamatea with her husband in 1971 and she has been a stalwart of the community ever since. Her children were schooled at Tamatea Primary School, Tamatea Intermediate and Tamatea High School. She says her mokopuna (grandchildren) also attended the local schools.
In 2014, Nicola Ngarewa, then Principal of Tamatea High School, invited Alamein to work at the school in a pastoral care role. Her job includes lending school uniform and shoes to students who don’t have their own, issuing late slips, keeping track of student lateness and also mentoring the occasional student who is sent out of class.
Tamatea High Principal, Robin Fabish, says “Alamein is an integral part of our school whānau – she’s ‘Nan’ to everyone, great for a kiss and a hug. She’s also great at giving those ‘Nana growlings’ that come from a place of love.”
Last week Alamein turned 70 something and the whole school sang her happy birthday. She is well loved by staff and students alike at the High School.
“She’s such a great example of the love and caring that our staff show for our students. Last year, we commissioned Jo Rowntree to paint a mural and he used Alamein as a model. We’re grateful that Alamein agreed.” Matua Robin added “The mural is about the Ngāti Kahungunu ancestor, Tamatea Pokai Whenua, who the school and suburb are named after. He was a great explorer and provider – he’s depicted as flowing between the adult, Whaea Alamein and the young person. This symbolises the support and caring that all the adults in our school community give to our young people as they learn and grow.”
“We’re so lucky to have Alamein and we appreciate everything she does for us and the Tamatea community.”