August 01, 2016
Heartbreak at death of kapa haka icon
A tribute to a giant of kapa haka from one who has taken up the baton.
Ngapo Wehi died yesterday aged 82, and roopu from around the motu are making their way to Parihimanihi Marae at his beloved Waihirere in Gisborne to mark his contribution to the Maori performing arts.
Kimiora Webster, who tutored Rotorua-based Te Roopu Raukura to take this year’s secondary schools championship, says Mr Wehi and his late wife Pimia taught him and many others so much of what they know.
"He was someone who changed the face of kapa haka and he influenced a lot of kids' lives back in the 80s and 90s. A lot of the things kapa haka groups do now are because of what Ngapo Wehi did in Waka Huia and Waihirere. A very sad week for everyone and for us in the kapa haka world, we are heartbroken at the moment," he says.
Mr Webster says he often uses Ngapo Wehi’s sayings in his tutoring, and on Friday before their winning performance he reminded them of his favourite whakatauaki ‘if your mind is free and your spirit is strong, anything is achievable’.
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