Whakaaria Mai production honours military chaplain

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

The life of Canon Wiremu Wi Te Tau Huata who enlisted as a chaplain during WWII has been put into a special stage production called Whakaaria Mai. It gives insight into his role and contribution on the battlefield.

After some encouragement from Sir Apirana Ngata, a young Huata enlisted for military services in WWII as a chaplain, in June 1943.  

That same year he trained as a solider at Trentham Military Camp, but his training was cut short as he was chosen to sail with the 10th re-enforcement to Egypt to meet up with the 28th Māori Battalion with the rank of captain.

The production shows many aspects of his military life as a chaplain, where he was often seen administering to the wounded and the dying on the battlefield. Actions that would later see him receive the Military Cross.

He gifted the cross  to the St. Matthews Anglican Church Parish in Paki Paki where it is still on display to this day.

Huata has been described as devoted to his duties and the men he served, a strong family man who was committed to his faith.

As a returned serviceman he composed many songs that have become Māori anthems, most notably his rendition of How Great Thou Art into Whakaaria mai. Other songs he is famous for include Tutira Mai Ngā Iwi, Pā Mai and A.E.I.O.U.

The 60 minute production is the final work of the late Māori performing arts visionary Tama Huata, a tribute to his father Canon, which is a collection of work spanning 32 years including stories and memoirs of his father.