Revered Māori leader Napi Waaka passes away

Reverend Te Napi Tutewehiwehi Waaka, a Māori leader renowned for his prowess in oratory, music, kapa haka, and language revitalisation has passed away.

A reverend of the Trinity Methodist Theological College, Waaka was well known for his charismatic charm and his ability to send crowds into fits of laughter.

The Tainui and Ngāti Pikiao descendant was born and raised in Maurea. Waaka was immersed in the Māori language and customs thanks to his grandmother. He was sent to Whangamarino school to learn English and then on to St Stephen College in Auckland under the tutorship of educationalist Hoani Retimana Waititi.

Passionate about music, Waaka was an exceptional saxophonist and as a youth was a member of the "Star Boys" (a whānau band) and also the "Tai Paul's Pohutu Boys" one of the leading dancing bands in Rotorua in the 1950's.

Waaka first learnt how to compose music with the Te Pou o Mangatāwhiri kapa haka group. He performed with many other groups which include Pātea Māori Group and Taniwharau. Some of his famous compositions include E Te Ariki, Hurihuri noa ka wawata noa, Maunga Taranaki, Ka eke wiwi, Ka eke wawa and He aha te aha.

He along with Kingi Ihaka, Kura Waaka, Ngoi Pewhairangi, Wiremu Kerekere, Dovey Katene-Horvath and Jock McEwen were instrumental in establishing the Polynesian Festival know today as Te Matatini.

His success was infinite. Waaka also received the 2014 Waiata Maori Music Keeper of Traditions award.

Rev Waaka is expected to arrive at Te Takinga Marae in Mourea at 10am tomorrow.

Te Kāea will have more on Napi Waaka tonight at 5:30pm.