Minarapa Mitai-Ngatai Māori saxophonist first played live saxophone tunes at the funeral of his Uncle in 1976. His presence is welcomed by families who have lost a loved one on Marae within Te Arawa.
Minarapa Mitai-Ngatai (Ngāti Rangitihi, Whakatōhea) says, “The song that I really like is called 'Kereru' by Charlie Colshaw, he has since passed away, I like the song because it's good to listen to and it's not so fast.”
Minarapa learnt to play the saxophone by listening to how his Uncles played and over the years his skill with this instrument has helped families deal with the loss of a loved one.
“Sometimes I will receive a phone call so I head off when they do call me I go but most of the time I'm reading the paper and so I attend the Māori funerals I know that they appreciate my attendance I go and play for them," says Minarapa.
Born and Bred in Matata, Minarapa is the son of Te Hau and Riparata Mitai.
Minarapa says, “I like would like to acknowledged my father and mother, Riparata, my father Te Hau Mitai who was from Te Whakatōhea I followed in his footsteps I didn't drink alcohol or smoked. That was very good for my health because I'm 82 year's old and I'm fit as a fiddle. “
An accomplish artist and carver he loves to create.
Minarapa says, “I look at how the painting is going, what I will be painting, mountains and trees I can see if it's good or not I love to paint it is good for my soul and sprit.’
Minarapa hopes to see other Māori playing the saxophone because he believes that it’s good for the soul.