Ngāti Rānana continues to thrive from humble beginnings

By Te Ao Māori News

For 54 years, British communities have become familiar with the tunes of London-based Māori club, Ngāti Rānana.

Today, the small group continues to promote NZ through Māori culture.

Ngāti Rānana elder Esther Kerr-Jessop (Ngāi Tai) says for her, it all began in Tōrere.

In 1959, Esther moved from Tōrere to London, to work as a radiographer, where she reminisces about the local rag saying 'Māori radiographer breaks new ground'.

She then met some friends on the ship 'Rangitoto', and during their travels, they decided to teach kapa haka to the other passengers on board.

When Esther arrived in London, she began to miss things Māori, hence the eventuation of Ngāti Rānana.

Bruce Simpson (Ngāti Raukawa), a 32-year London resident, believes the most important thing about this club is it caters for those living in London who crave Māori culture, and becomes a second family and home for them. 

There are roughly 8 million people living in London, around 300 of whom are Māori.

In recent years, many young Māori have come to live here in the place known as 'The Gateway to the World'.

Every Wednesday, new performers come to NZ House.

"I grew up amongst my iwi with our own unique traditions, but it's different here, and your sense of tikanga changes," says newcomer Tupoutama Paki.

Other members say it was a bit daunting at first because they didn't know anyone.

Tredegar Hall came after his brother Temuera Hall, a former Ngāti Rānana performer in the 80s, encouraged him.

There are people from all over the world involved with Ngāti Rānana, and were even discovered by means of online videos.

The group is well accustomed to entertaining a range of audiences.  In Doncaster, they welcomed the Kiwis to London.

Tonight, they support families affected by cancer, much like Māori families at home affected by the same illness.

Ngāti Rānana are sent to Europe, the U.S and other countries as representatives of NZ, and have even met royalty.

Another important aspect about this club is it reconnects Māori who were previously disconnected from their Māori roots.

But this club is no different to clubs in NZ, in that they too have their in-house disputes.

There was talk of Ngāti Rānana going to Te Matatini, but the club's matriarch says perhaps it's not possible due to finances.

Many Māori have come to Ngāti Rānana and returned home again.  

Next year, they start commemorations for the soldiers who died in WWI, 100 years after it ended. 

For now, the club will continue to practise every Wednesday at NZ House.

Esther sends her love to everyone at home, especially in Tōrere.