Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's name set in stone

By Aroha Mane

Kahurangi (Dame) Kiri Te Kanawa is one of the world's greatest opera singers, with a soprano voice described as mellow, yet vibrant, warm, ample and unforced. Today her legacy in the arts has been honoured at Aotea Square and her name given to a theatre in the spirit of music.

Kahurangi Te Kanawa was brought to tears as her father's name, and her mother's musical teachings were immortalised in the naming of this theatre.

“I'd just like to pay homage to my parents Tom and Nell Te Kanawa.”

The blessing of the theatre was supported by Ngāti Whātua, Regional Facilities Auckland and the naming rights holders, ASB Bank.

ASB Chairman Gavin Walker says, “We thought this is a wonderful opportunity to honour Dame Kiri. It's symbolic in terms of recognition of her success, not only her success in New Zealand but more importantly her success internationally. In her own words a recognition that if she can do it, others can do it as well.”

Kura Te Ua, Kaimahi of Regional Facilities Auckland says, “We are blessed! Through her name and spirit, a performing artist building is now available to us.”

Ezekiel Raui says, “It's not only an honour for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa but also us as Māori. Secondly, it shows Māori and particularly our youth that anything is possible.”

This is the first time ASB have given one of their theatres a Māori name. Next year the Auckland kapa haka regionals will be the first Māori competition to take the stage in her name.

Kahurangi Te Kanawa concludes, “I just don't think you should give up because when you give up there is nothing else. Giving up is easy and working hard is not. None of what I did was easy and now I can relax and now I push others to do what I did but it's encouragement now to make sure that they do focus.”

A special ceremony to acknowledge Dame Te Kanawa's formidable talent will take place tomorrow night with some of the country's finest operatic voices.