Topics: Kapa Haka, Te Matatini

The secret to Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao's sweet singing - Feature

By Heeni Brown
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

One of the most outstanding qualities of the kapa haka group Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao are their sweet and powerful voices.  Te Kāea reporter, Heeni Brown, went to find out where this talent derives from and we were lucky to catch them before their performance at Te Matatini.

"Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao is renowned for their sweet voices.  That's one of the reasons why I wanted to join the group," says one group member.

Composer John Turi describes that, "Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao is probably no different to any other group.  We need to go back in history to the time of Makereti (Maggie Papakura) and her sister, Bella Thom.
They led Tūhourangi in their time."

"I remember Ana Hato and our elders at that time.  I can see that singing was a gift they passed down to us," says senior performer Jaylene Tamati.

Turi says, "That's what they did at Te Whakarewarewa School.  The principal liked choral singing.  With the Catholic Church at one end and the Anglican Church at the other, singing was an integral part of the church.

You need to nurture the voice so that it brings out something special.  And yes, the tutor might growl you for being flat.  But once you've blended all the voices together, then out comes the sweetness.

Perhaps it's one of the gifts our people inherited, but it's always been that way."

Jaylene says, "We've now been in the team for about 22 years.  We both had our first performance with the group in Hāwera, Taranaki.  We were 14 years old back then."

Leader and tutor Laurelle Tamati says, "We'll continue to strive and nurture our singing and all that comes with it.  I hope that Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao continues to be a strong competitive group."

"I hope the group gets the opportunity to perform and showcase the talents of Tūhourangi overseas much like Maggie and Bella Papakura did in their time," says Janelle.

"We will continue to maintain the gifts we inherited from our elders and ancestors for the sake of my family, hapū and iwi," concludes Laurelle.