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Tributes flow for fallen kapa haka icon

Monday 8 August 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, National

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Tributes flow for fallen kapa haka icon
Te Arawa kapa haka stalwart Sally-Ann Roberts (Ngāti Hinemihi, Ngāti Pikiao, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāpuhi). Photo: SUPPLIED/22080703

The body of Te Arawa kapa haka stalwart Sally-Ann Roberts (Ngāti Hinemihi, Ngāti Pikiao, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāpuhi) was repatriated back to Aotearoa New Zealand yesterday.

Known by most as Hereana, she was a “flamboyant kapa haka exponent and tutor of Tūhourangi kapa haka” for more than three decades.

She had travelled to Rarotonga with the Tūhourangi-Ngāti Wāhiao kapa haka for Te Maeva Nui cultural festival when she sadly passed away last week.

It is understood she had collapsed backstage at the National Auditorium last Wednesday evening prior to the group’s performance scheduled for later in the evening.

The New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands Tui Dewes said: “We have been deeply saddened by the passing of Sally-Ann Hereana Roberts. By all accounts, she was an exceptional woman, full of aroha and mana.”

“The High Commission has been working closely with her whānau on her repatriation to Aotearoa New Zealand for her tangi in Rotorua. Our thoughts are with her loved ones at this incredibly difficult time. Tihei mauri mate,” said Dewes.

The Secretary of Tauranga Vananga (Ministry of Culture) Anthony Turua was saddened at her passing.

Turua said he had spoken to Roberts backstage before she collapsed.

“We, Tauranga Vananga and our Minister George Angene and Government would like to express our deep condolences to Hereana and her family and to the Tūhourangi-Ngāti Wāhiao kapa haka who participated in our Te Maeva Nui, Te Atua Te Aroa.” said Turua.