Te Arawa haka exponent Trevor Maxwell has described how Ngāpō Wehi was highly respected throughout the country. Maxwell, along with his late wife Atareta, tutored two-time national champions Ngāti Rangiwewehi and says that Ngāpō and his wife Nen leave behind a record that is hard to beat in competitive kapa haka.
Trevor Maxwell has vivid memories of this performance by Te Waka Huia two decades ago.
He says it was a game changer in Māori performing arts.
“I remember standing in the wings because Waka Huia was on before us, before we came out in the final and I had seen their performance the day before in the qualifying rounds,” says Maxwell, “(They were) good, but we had faith in our entry and our programme.”
That year, Ngāti Rangiwewehi won the competition known then as the Aotearoa Māori Performing Arts Festival.
Te Waka Huia, tutored by Ngāpō and Nen Wehi, has held the championship title six times.
“He's leaving a record (that is) hard to beat…I think it’s just the respect and the admiration for what Bub and Nen have done for our beautiful performing arts, Māori performing arts,” says Maxwell.
Trevor says that, when the competition was over, sometimes both teams would travel overseas performing and each time Ngāpō showed strong leadership.
“The thing that sums Bub up for me is (he was) highly competitive and highly respected,” says Maxwell.
Maxwell says he will be travelling to Gisborne alongside a large Te Arawa delegation on Wednesday to formally pay their respects.