Te Whare Tū Tauā o Aotearoa pay respect to one of their first graduates

By Wepiha Te Kanawa
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Thousands continue to mourn the loss of Tauranga Moana leader Awanuiarangi Black who is currently lying in state at Te Whetu o Te Rangi marae.

Pita Sharples lead warriors from Te Whare Tū Tāua o Aotearoa onto Te Whetu o Te Rangi Marae. Te Whare Tū Tauā o Aotearoa came in their droves to pay their respects to one of their first graduates.

Black lead Tūtara Kauika Ki Rangataua for more than 20 years. Now, the responsibility he once had rests on their shoulders.

Tūtara Kauika Ki Rangataua Male leader Maia Wharekura says, “Where there's artistic excellence, there is human dignity' those are his words he left behind for us. We need to follow that example now 'Be like the tītoko branch' holdfast.”

He founded the group in 1992 to give Tauranga Moana a voice, two decades that dream has been realised.

“One chief falls, there are many others to fill his place' to carry on the work load. That's Tūtara's hope is right now, to be just like the ocean. It's changing all the time, we can't be like a heavy rock, and we need to be every changing like the tides so we can ride the waves,” says Wharekura.

But it was his fight for artistic excellence in all areas of Maoridom that he will be remembered for.

“Star navigation, that’s Jacko, Māori weaponry that's us, kapa haka with Tutara, he also helped with Tauranga's dialict with his myths and legends from the area, flax weaving too. Those are the things he's left behind for us and Tutara Kauika started with that vision, it’s time for us to take that up to another level,” says Wharekura.

Awanuiarangi Black will be accompanied by a group of warriors to his final resting place at Ōtūkopiri in Ngāpeke.