Ngā Ringa Raupā - Eru Wilton

By Harata Brown

For 10 years now, a man with background experience in audio engineering and security has fused the two to align with his role as mana whenua. 

He has been the bridge that has seen stars like Rihanna, Bone Thugs N Harmony and more, given unique traditional Māori welcome to Auckland.

Tonight our Matariki unsung hero is Eru Wilton of Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Whātua. 

Wilton says, "To me, it's about our core Māori values and the main value there is manaakitanga.  It's about manaaki ki te tangata, it's about manaaki ki te manuhiri, it's about us as Māori, as Ngāti Whātua, as mana whenua here in Tāmaki Makaurau.

It's about our inherited obligation to be the best hosts that we can be and doing these haka pōwhiri, haka poroporoāki and on stage haka is one way we do that.

I use to do mahi in the late 90s and late 2000s in the music industry.  I also got to do a back stage haka for Common and others from the Big Day Out so from there it kind of evolved.

I guess it started with Papa Malcs, Malcom Kerehoma.  We train under him.  He is our tohunga here at Ngāti Whātua.

He trains us here in mau rākau at the marae.  He's also our expert at kapa haka, our tohunga in that.  He was keen to try and get together some of the whānau for these gigs and when we can't get much of the whānau, we get some of the kaihaka that he knows and that we call upon to come and join us. 

You know it's a real privilege and an honour to be able to do that.  To meet them and greet them and also have them experience whanaungatanga too, that sense of belonging and for us to do this.

Our point of difference is our tikanga and when they come and experience that, it's a connection that we make and that they make.

I guess that is what the whanaungatanga is all about and it's about kotahitanga too, it's not just about our Ngāti Whātua whānau and when we use other kaihaka, it's about collaboration and about unity.

It's a real honour to be able to involve whānau, especially rangatahi.  For them to be able to experience that, you know they’re not really actually kaihaka experts.  We have some youth that come in and experience it as well and to see them light up and be around these artists and actually being on stage and being around thousands of people performing the haka, you know it's really fulfilling and humbling."