Mita Mohi and Billy Karaitiana celebrated for their contributions

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A former New Zealand Kiwis rugby league player is being recognized for his efforts off field, in particular, his commitment to the resurgence of the martial art, maurakau, when he appears at the National Waiata Maori Music Awards this month.

Mita Hikairoa Mohi lives in Rotorua and his tribal affiliations are with Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui, Ngati Parekawa and Ngati Rangiwewehi. His iwi are Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa.

He has travelled the breadth of the country with his whanau running Mokoia Taiaha Wananga on marae, in school halls, paddocks, backyards and virtually anywhere people want to learn about the traditional martial art.

The wananga have been in place for 35 years and participants are now returning with their mokopuna. Mita also developed a mau rakau programme that has been running in prisons around the country for 20 years.

Mita played for the Kiwis in 1972, was a runner up in the Aotearoa Maori Tennis Champions and also had a stint as a professional wrestler.

He has served on various Marae Committee, Land Trusts, School Trust Boards, NZ Parole Board and an advisory role in WINZ and kaumatua. He began his working life as a train driver and then moved to working with Maori Affairs. He went on to work as a lecturer at Waiariki Polytech and eventually retired during his tenure as the Director of MH Wananga Trust.

His commitment and passion for maurakau will be recognised this year when he receives the Keeper of Traditions Award, in the Nominated Awards section of the National Waiata Maori Music Awards.

The Nominated Awards recognise those who have made a significant contribution to the industry. These categories are not judged but are awarded to highlight the work of past and present performers, singers and songwriters working in the Maori music sector.

The three other categories include the Iconic Maori Music Composers Award – Historical, which this year is awarded to the late Te Aritaua Pitama, a Ngai Tahu leader, teacher, broadcaster and concert party producer.

His whanau will attend the awards at the Hawkes Bay Opera House in Hastings, September 14.

Producer and musician Billy Karaitiana will receive the Maori Music Industry Award in recognition of an international career, which spans six decades. Billy will also attend the awards.

The Lifetime Contribution to Maori Music Award this year will be presented to the families of Dr Richard Nunns and the late Dr Hirini Melbourne, who are joint recipients.

Dr Melbourne is credited with the revival of taonga puoro, or traditional Maori music instruments. Dr Nunns heads Nga Tae, a group of musicians who combine traditional Maori instruments with modern electronica. They will be represented by whanau at the awards ceremony.

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