Memories of Taniwharau resonates at Tomairangi Paki’s tangi

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Tributes continue to flow for Tainui waka performing arts stalwart Kiritokia e-te Tomairangi Paki who's now lying in state at Huntly's Waahi Paa.  King Tuheitia and the Kīngitanga welcomed his older sister to their childhood residence, where she'll lie for the next four days. 

Waikato-Tainui arrived en masse in front of the forecourt of Taane I Te Pupuke to pay their respects to their exponent of Māori performing arts. Also acknowledged were the ilk of tutors who fostered Paki's passion for the arts.

Te Iti Kahurangi tutor Kingi Kiriona says, “I remember the story she told us at a gathering for Tainui waka performers last year, that she sat under the tutelage of the likes of Wii Te Tau Huata, Sir Kingi Ihaka, the performance exponents of that era. As a result, she gained the skills to lead her group, Taniwharau.”

Kiingitanga spokesperson Rahui Papa said, “She was a student of Napi Waaka and that ilk of composers of song. Furthermore, she returned to Hawaii where she learnt the dance of hula.  Then she returned home to teach these skills to members of her group Taniwharau and other groups in Waikato.”

Paki was assistant to the late Napi Waaka, the tutor of Taniwharau haka group when they won the inaugural Te Matatini competition in 1981.  She later went on to lead the group.

Haka groups from around the country such as Waihīrere, Ngāti Kahungunu, from Mataatua waka and Tāmaki Makarau are expected to pay their respects over the next four days, with a kapa haka showcase planned for her final night to celebrate Tomairangi Paki's contribution to the performing arts.

Kiriona says, “Her songs are still being sung, her haka are still being performed.  The entertainment element she established within her group, Taniwharau, is still followed by performers today, leaders of kapa haka groups in Waikato and throughout the country.”

Paki will be laid to rest with her mother and ancestors of Māori Kings on the ancestral Taupiri mountain on Friday.