Topic: Kapa Haka

Performing arts stalwart Tama Huata passes away

By Heeni Brown
  • North Island: East Coast

The East Coast has suffered the loss of another leader, Tama Huata, aged 64.

The architect of performing arts initiatives in Ngāti Kahungunu passed away in his Napier home this morning, surrounded by loved ones. 

The Huata family have called Tama Tūranga Huata "their heart."

In a statement from the family, it was their whānau who surrounded him when he passed.

Jeremy McLeod says, "It's a tragic death, not just for Ngāti Kahungunu alone but for the whole nation.  There's Api being mourned in Tikitiki, and today it's Tama.  That's why I'm saying there's a big hole that he's left behind."

At the funeral of Dr Apirana Mahuika, words of farewell were also shared for Huata.

Te Kahautu Maxwell says, "Tama has just found his place with you.  The both of you have long wrestled your illnesses."

In 2006, Huata was awarded Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his more than 35 years of service to Māori performing arts.

He was also the inaugural chairperson of the Te Matatini Society and was the founder of the Waiata Māori Music Awards.

"He was the chair of the host Te Matatini committee for 2017, so there are so many achievements under his belt.  That's why I'm saying he's one of a kind," says McLeod.

He was also the leader of the Takitimu Festival, a triennial event that celebrates the rich history of the Takitimu waka.

One of Huata's long lived accomplishments was the founding of the Kahurangi Dance Theatre and the Takitimu Performing Arts School in 1983.

He also established the first Bachelor of Māori Performing Arts degree programmes.

"I know that his daughters and his family have long followed in his footsteps.  So Tama, this is Ngāti Kahungunu, your iwi, who mourn you dearly so may you rest in eternal peace," says McLeod.

Tomorrow, Huata will arrive at Waipatu Marae at 9am and on Friday he will then be taken to Mihiroa Marae, Pakipaki.

On Sunday, he will be laid to rest at Whenuakura Urupā.