The late Ngapo Wehi in his own words

By Taroi Black
  • North Island: East Coast

An exponent of traditional Māori performing arts, Ngapo Wehi's fame and recognition is world renowned, from humble beginnings to a being awarded a QSM.

Ngapo was given the name Bub during his upbringing within Te Whakatohea (tribe), Waioeka.

Wehi says, “They use to call me Bubba until I was nine and then I went to Kutarere school and I found out for the first time that my name is Ngapo.”

Then he turned his sites to Gisborne and secured a job in farming.

“I did jobs that were available. Whatever they were, I've done them.”

He wanted to create a better future.

His late wife Pimia Wehi says, “We were in the vegetable garden together and we were supposed to be digging up spuds and he was busy throwing them at me and I thought what's he doing that for.”

“We started playing that game and I thought "OMG how far are we going".”

Kapa haka was about to become their life. Following in the footsteps of Kani Te Ua and Wiremu Kerekere, leading Waihirere Māori Club.

“It's been a cost it's been hard on bringing up the children we carried them everywhere. Kapa Haka was our love.”

“We carried our kids from Waihirere to Ngaruawahia every Coronation, foggy cold, wet. Our babies are part and parcel of our success”, says Wehi.

Their success continued when they moved to Auckland and formed Te Waka Huia.  

"I always revert back to the renowned elder, Ngakohu Pera from Waioeka. It was because of him I moved to Auckland. He said, come here boy, if you are planning to venture out, remember to be careful out there. Lest you slip, you might hurt your head on the ground."

# Footage Credit to "Front of The Box Productions."

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