The Māori performing arts community is mourning the loss of Dr Ngapo Wehi, QSM. The 82-year old leader from Te Whakatōhea, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāpuhi, Te Whānau-a-Apanui and Ngāti Kahu passed away in the early hours of this morning. His funeral is being held at Parihimanihi Marae, Waihirere.
The body of Ngāpo Wehi will arrive at Waihīrere this evening, where the whānau of Parihimanihi Marae are preparing as we speak.
According to the spokesperson for the Wehi family, Willie Te Aho, final details of the funeral are still to be decided.
"Ngapo has lived with us for many years and grew up here with his good wife Pimia amongst Ngāti Kohuhu and Ngāti Wāhia and Te Aitanga ā Māhaki. And rightfully so that he should come to our marae, and lie beside his wife Pimia and so it's our good fortune that they have accepted to come here on the understanding that many tribes want him also to come to them."
Te Kāea understands groups from around the country have already begun preparations to travel to Waihīrere. Te Waka Huia and Manu Huia will be travelling down tomorrow morning from Auckland. Kingi Tuheitia and Waikato-Tainui is expected on Tuesday morning with Ngāti Kahungunu following after them. Haka expert Derek Lardelli says it's a sign of the huge respect Ngāpo held.
"Our waka has crashed from the omens of death, Ngapo was a leader at the forefront, an exponent of kapa haka during his time, he took kapa haka to the world. Today this rangatira is making his journey through the mighty forest to be with his beloved matriarch Pimia.And it is we the people of Te Tairawhiti who shed tears and are grabbing thoughts, from the people's hearts and bringing them into the world of life and light. This supernatural being is a protege, a taniwha of the stone age."