From Māori dance to 'different country, different situations'

By Kawe Roes

Author, educator and explorer Hineatawhai Jo Patti (Ngāti Pākehā) is back in the country to write about her time working with Kahurangi Dance Theatre. While she's here, she'll also launch two new books, including her latest work Getting Off the X.

Her two books are the first she's written since her son's death climbing the second largest mountain in the world, the K2 in Pakistan. 

"The first three years were the hardest and I felt I couldn't even talk about it in public until last year," she says.

Patti 's been to some countries off the beaten track that have taught her how to deal with harm, and she focuses on these lessons in her new book Getting Off the X.

"There is also emotional dangers you can get your self into, that can emotionally harm you or spiritually harm you. So, that's the thread of the book. A different country and different situations," she says.

While in the country, Patti will head to Nelson to write about her time working with Kahurangi Dance Theatre, alongside Cannon Wi Te Tau Huata and his son Tama Huata. 

Through her work with Kahurangi, she was one of the main choreographers for a number of their international shows, including Aku Tipuna.

"When Kahurangi just started and, unfortunately, you know that the two main Huata's that I worked with have passed on. Tama Huata and his parents and [I'm] very grateful to the Huata family."

"I had been a choreographer, worked in New York and on the stage... and I was like 'wow'. I have to see this, I knew nothing about Māori dance before that," she says.

"They said, 'do you think you can do anything with this lot? We've got something called Waitangi coming up. We want to change our dance in the modern sector.'"

They said to come back tomorrow, there will be some rough characters out there. It was Hastings, during the gang time. And I said, 'That's all right, I've worked in New York.'"

During 1994, Patti was granted citizenship for her work with the Kahurangi National Māori Dance Theatre in Hastings. Wiremu Te Tau Huata, his son, Tama Huata and other elders helped sponsor her.