Kapa Haka legend fights to keep traditions alive

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A woman who is a stickler for detail when it comes to kaupapa and tikanga of waiata and kapa haka has been named as the fourth nominated award winner of this years National Waiata Maori Music Awards.

Tihi Puanaki, Ngati Hine, has been a leader in kapa haka and waiata Maori for more than four decades and her work in these industries has earned her the Keeper of Traditions Award.

(Pictured: Tihi leads the Te Kotahitanga Kapa Haka group at CHARTFEST 2010)

The nominated award is for a person who is or has been dedicated to teaching M?ori culture in music. There are four nominated sections each year, recognizing the contribution people have made to waiata Maori.

Tihi works as a teacher in Otautahi, she established the first kura kaupapa Maori in Te Waipounamu, Te Kura Whakapumau I Te Reo Tuturu, in 1986 and the first immersion/bi-lingual initiative in a secondary school in 1990.

Many of the graduates are now in high-powered positions in kaupapa Maori around the motu, including whare wanaga teachers, lecturers, pouaka whakaata, presenters, producers, researchers as well as principals. Much of her work in education has been around kapa haka and waiata where she has been a teacher, instructor, performer, composer, choreographer and organiser. She has taught her own kapa haka group Te Kotahitanga for 40 years, initially with her husband and now with her son and whanau.

The roopu is considered to be the premiere South Island kapa haka group, it has been a winner at regional and national competitions for many years.

[sws_pullquote_right]I’m notorious for wero because it was done to me, its a Maori thing. You see young ones coming through and mark them and help them. A lot of people on the way have faith and belief in you, Mrs Puanaki says. [/sws_pullquote_right] Tihi has many times represented kapa haka at international forums as a performer, writer, advocate and speaker. Many of her secondary students now run their own groups, in their own schools. She has also been involved in kapa haka development at a regional level with her work in the Waitaha Cultural Council.

Tihi has also worked as an advocate for Maori music and through her son Te Huaki, who is a vocalist and reo Maori recoding artist, has been involved in the Maori music scene for many years.

Last year she was a panelist at the National Waiata Maori Music Expo, sharing her knowledge and experience with those working in the industry. She has composed and written songs with Te Huaki and is a member of Toi Maori Puatatangi Music Committee. Her National Waiata Maori Music nominated award is on top of other citations she has received over the years in recognition of her work.

In 2003 she was awarded a QSM for her work in Maori education and in 2010 was awarded recognition by Ngaitahu for her work in revitalising reo and kaupapa Maori, especially in the areas of kapa kaka in Te Waipounamu. She joins four other people who were earlier this year named as the 2011 National Waiata Maori Awards nominated award winners.

It included the late Sir Kingi Ihaka, the winner of the Iconic Maori Composer Award; Ardijah and Frankie Stevens, winners of Maori Music Industry Awards and Mahora Peters, winner of the Lifetime Contribution to Maori Music Award.

1 COMMENT

  1. T?nei te mihi miharo ki a koe e te mana wahine. Tautoko ake ng? kupu k?rero kei runga eng?ri he mea an? hoki mai ng? mahara i te wa tuatahi hei t?taki au i a koe, a, te wa ? neher? hei kapahaka ana kei te White Heron. Ko te kupu ngaro kei runga, ara, ko te kupu mana ake ‘Entertainer’. Mauri mana. Rei I.

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