Kaumātua ball honours kuia and koroua

By Jessica Tyson

Around 120 kuia and koroua got their kanikani on last night at a special Kaumātua Ball in Foxton. The event was hosted by Te Korowai o Te Awahou Māori Welfare League to honour kuia and koro aged 70 years plus who are still active in their communities.

Anne Matekino Watson, of Ngāti Pāhauwera and Ngāti Kahungunu, helped to organise the event.

“This was a first for me, I organised this for our kaumātua. I wanted to give them something, instead of sitting on the marae where they do tangihanga, where they go and visit people. And so I thought it would be a good thing to have a kaumātua ball and do it for them.”

Special guest Debbie Packer, of Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Ruahine, Ngā Rauru and Irish descent, says it was important to be there to celebrate the kaumātua.

“They are out there holding up our marae, they are out there holding up our whānau, our communities, so to see them celebrate and have a great time is really special," Packer says.

“What our kuia and kaumātua here tonight are showing is that you have to work together, you have to be united to be able to deal with some of the things that our communities are confronting. At the same time, it's really important to let your hair down and celebrate and be able to have a good time.”

Tracey Robinson, of Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa, was in the kitchen helping to prepare the kai for the guests.

“We're in a time where many of our kaumātua have either passed away. And what a great opportunity to be able to take them to their seat, to be able to serve them the way that they deserve to be treated, to provide entertainment which is meaningful for them. And they've heard the words tonight, they've been able to reminisce, they have been able to have a dance.”

The oldest guest at the ball was Trevor Chambers who is 92 years old. He went along with his whānau, including his daughter Viti Taylor and granddaughter Nyeemah Ching, of Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāi Tahu, who were by his side.

“It's important because he remembers a lot of the music, he remembers some of the faces and he just enjoyed coming out,” Taylor says.

Chung says, “I think it's really cool because I see him smiling with all of the old songs he used to sing.”

The kuia and koroua said one of their biggest hopes for the future is the protection of their mokopuna.