4 Aug 2016

Te ao Māori mourns 'Godfather of kapa haka'

12:09 am on 4 August 2016

The death of Kapa Haka expert Ngāpō Wehi has left the world of Māori perfoming arts to mourn his loss and remember his great contribution.

Ngāpō Wehi

Ngāpō Wehi with his wife Pimia Photo: Supplied

Dr Wehi, who died yesterday aged 82, was awarded a QSM in 2011 for his service to Māori and the performing arts.

In 1983 he formed and tutored the Auckland based kapa haka group, Te Waka Huia, who have won the national championship title five times.

Before Te Waka Huia, he tutored East Coast group Waihirere who won twice, in 1972 and 1979.

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said Ngāpō was "the Godfather of kapa haka".

"We send our aroha and thoughts to the whānau at this time and we thank the whānau for sharing their pāpā with us over the many years."

Family spokesman Willie Te Aho said Dr Wehi had composed with his wife Pimia Wehi.

"Everything he did was about humility," he said.

"Everything he did was written in his songs that he composed with Aunty Pimia and what they highlighted was the strengths in our culture, the strengths in our language and kapa haka, and using those as fundamental elements for Māori to progress in this world."

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201810762/arts-community-mourns-godfather-of-kapa-haka Listen to some of the haka composed by Mr Wehi's on Checkpoint.

Mr Te Aho said all the songs Dr Wehi composed were memorable.

"When you go back to 1972 and you look at the songs he composed like "Na te Mea" which was a cry for us to learn our Māori language.

"And if I go back to 1986 when he first won with Te Waka Huia, people said his haka, Whakamanatia, at that time was considered contemporary but now 30 years later it's considered a classic."

Mr Wehi was awarded an honorary doctorate from Massey University in 2001.

His tangihanga will be held at Parihimanihi Marae in the east coast town of Waihirere.