Whānau tribute to patriarch Minarapa

By Te Kāea

The whānau of Minarapa Mikaere Mitai-Ngatai has paid tribute to the well-loved Rotorua kaumatua.

Mr Mitai-Ngatai passed away this morning at his home in Western Heights surrounded by family.  He was 84.

The following was kindly provided to Te Kāea by his whānau:

"Rangitihi te ūpoko whakahirahira i tākaia ki te akatea"

Mina was a loving father and koro. He brought his kids up with love, laughter and music.

Father of 10. Grandfather of 34. Great Grandfather of 31.

Mina loved learning about and trying new things. He was a healthy, fit and active 84-year-old old and he accomplished a lot in his life.

He was brought up in Matata where the ocean was his swimming pool.  There, his love for boats and yachts grew but not having the money for a catamaran didn’t stop him “If we didn’t have it, we built it” was his motto. He built two catamarans and he would sail to Motiti and Plate Island.

He played hockey since he was a young boy in Matata. He loved the skill and strategy of the game. He encouraged all his mokos to play hockey instead of rugby and he’d pile them into the van and drive them to practice and games every week.  His grandson Leo Mitai-Wells has been named in the Black Sticks.

From a musical family, Mina and his brothers Neil and John had a band and they would play at the Tamatekapua dances.

Later Mina married Margaret Kingi from Okere, and they had 8 children of their own, and 2 whangai.

He bought his own kids up around music and when they were teenagers they had their own family band and would play all around Rotorua. Wetini on lead guitar.

Mina’s great love was carving and he and his son Richard Te Hau Mitai-Ngatai travelled around the motu to help with carving many wharenui and marae.

He helped to finish Hongoeka in Porirua.

He did the inside of kahumatamomoe alongside friend Peter Hemi and restored the outside carved waka at mitai restoration work at Owhata Marae gateway at Muruika Waharoa Rotorua Courthouse - Pekehaua.

Their humble three bedroom homestead in Amies Rd housed up to 17 ppl at one time including cousin Irirangi Tiakiawa.

Mina and Margaret's door was open to all.

Most people would know Mina from playing his saxophone at the Kuirau markets and at the many tangihana around Aotearoa.

He said It was his way of contributing to the families and the marae instead of being on the paepae.

He was generous with his love and time and he made so many friends over the years.

He was ambidextrous which made him a great competitor in tennis, hockey and more recently pickleball.

Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis and Mina was very competitive.

He was one of those people who was good at everything he tried and he was determined to master those things that he loved.

Painting was a great hobby of his and he loved to share his pictures of whales and moons, waterfalls with his family and friends.

He fell in love with line dancing and started a Māori line dancing group that took off amongst the koeke fraternity.

Mina was very active and was playing pickleball and tennis right up to two months ago before he got the flu that turned into pneumonia.

One of the last things he talked about was how much he loved his family and how lucky he was to have them.

Mina will be taken to Taheke Marae on Friday 22nd June at 2pm and the burial service will be on Sunday 24th June at 11am.

He will be remembered by his family as being a kind humble loving fun and funny koro and dad.