Waioweka make a comeback after 30 years

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

There are a record 47 kapa haka competing on stage at this year's Te Matatini competition and one of those groups is Waioweka from Mataatua Waka who have regrouped after a 30 year absence. 

Speaking to Te Kāea on the night before their big performance, group member Te Rangimaria Smith says, "There is a lot of work ahead of us in terms of getting it right and practicing for this huge event Te Matatini."

"How we're feeling at the moment is satisfied. We've had our ups and our downs in the weeks leading up to this, but the time has now come and we are feeling calm," says male leader Tipene Tai.

When two of the original kuia Hēni Green and Rawinia Rangi retired, it left a void of 30 years and it wasn't until last year that a new Waioweka group was formed by Eric Kurei who sadly passed away last year.

"Our main kaupapa that we are bringing to the stage is our Ringatū faith as well as our love for all those that have passed away like Ngāpo Wehi as well as one of our very own is Eric Kurei," says Smith.

Today all their hard work came to fruition as they performed in front of a packed stadium and tens of thousands of viewers on the Māori Television live stream to New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

Coming off stage the group was elated with their performance. 

"We achieved what we came here to do in front of everyone so we are really happy and our team as a whole is really happy too," explains tutor Paora Brosnan.

"Our performance was good, it felt well, we left everything on the stage, so now it's within the hands of the judges," says group member Te Mihingaamaru Patterson.

No matter the outcome of the judges decision, Waioweka have left a lasting impression.