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Kapa haka group returns to Cook Islands to heal and give thanks

Thursday 3 August 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Art, Entertainment, Features


Kapa haka group returns to Cook Islands to heal and give thanks
Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao kapa haka group pays tribute to their leader Sally-Ann Roberts at Te Maeva Nui International Night on Tuesday. MELINA ETCHES/23080201 or 0202

On Tuesday night, the 2023 Te Maeva Nui International Night stage witnessed a deeply moving tribute by Aotearoa New Zealand kapa haka group Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao as they paid homage to their beloved leader, Sally-Ann “Hereana” Roberts, who tragically passed away during last year’s festival.

Their powerful, harmonious voices and vigorous performance were fitting to open the evening.

Roberts was a “flamboyant kapa haka exponent and tutor of Tūhourangi kapa haka” for more than three decades.

This is the group’s second visit to the Cook Islands, where they have once again joined the Te Maeva Nui festival held at Te Are Karioi Nui National Auditorium. They have returned to help with their healing, and to give thanks to the people of Rarotonga for the huge support offered to their kapa whanau throughout the ordeal last year.

Read more:

 Te Maeva Nui brings out the best in cultural performances

A day of pride, unity and reflection

Celebrating cultural diversity

The group was formed in 1985, principally to foster the performing arts and celebrate the history of Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao, and to nurture and develop interest in the performing arts in rangatahi (youth). 

It has become a regular fixture at all local and national kapa haka events in Aotearoa and internationally.

The group hails from the geothermal village of Whakarewarewa, two kilometres south of the central business district of Rotorua, and named after their tribe Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao, one of the more prominent tribes that belongs to the Te Arawa Waka.

Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao is honoured to have also participated in the Matariki Korikori Konohete over the weekend.

Five kapa haka groups performed on the night as well as the local Kiribati, Filipino and Indonesia communities.