Ngoingoi Pēwhairangi, Tuini Ngāwai join NZ Music Hall of Fame

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

The late Te Kumeroa “Ngoingoi” Pēwhairangi QSM and her beloved Aunty Tuini Moetū Haangū Ngāwai are to be inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame | Te Whare Taonga Puoro o Aotearoa.

Apra AMCOS will honour both women at this year's Apra Silver Scroll Awards | Kaitito Kaiaka.

Tokomaru Bay-born Tuini Ngāwai (Te Whānau-a-Ruataupare) composed many waiata in her time. She was a part of the Kotahitanga movement along with efforts to achieve better recognition for the Treaty of Waitangi. A leader in helping the revitalisation of Māori culture and identity, Ngāwai also formed the performing group Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū, which assisted then-Māori Development Minister Sir Apirana Ngāta and his efforts in recruiting for the 28th Māori Battalion. 

Some of Ngāwai's waiata include the unofficial hymn of Ngāti Porou C Company soldiers, Arohaina mai e te Kingi Nui', Kei Tangi a Big Ben and Te Kotahitanga rā e.

Pēwhairangi, (Te Whānau-a-Ruataupare, Ngāti Porou), better known as Ngoi, continued her aunt's legacy in similar mahi. Though known for co-writing songs with some of Māoridom's best artists such as Prince Tui Teka and Dalvanius Prime, the deeply respected leader, educator and youth advocate had an influence on many current Māori songwriters.

She composed waiata including Kia Kaha Ngā Iwi, Ka Noho Au, and Whakarongo. She also wrote Poi E for Pātea Māori Club, which would go on to top the charts for a month 40 years ago, and has been back in the Top 10 charts many times.

She also joined the rōpū Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū as a member and later leader.

Pēwhairangi was essential to te reo Māori education of her era, partnering with Katerina Mataira to create Te Ataarangi, a method of learning and teaching of te reo Māori that still stands today. She was also on the Council for Māori and South Pacific Arts until she died.