Tributes pour in for Bonnie Te Amohau of Te Arawa

By Te Ao - Māori News

Renowned Te Arawa koeke Te Iwaiwa Bonnie Te Amohau was returned to her beloved ancestral house of Tamatekaupa today.

At 96, Te Amohau was well known for kapahaka, ancient knowledge and was a great treasure for the Te Arawa tribe.

Many mourners of Te Arawa gathered at Te Papaiouru Marae in Rotorua today for the tangi of Te Amohau and lamented together for the beginning of her departure from this world to the next.   

Te Iwaiwa Bonnie Te Amohau was a kapa haka enthusiast for more than 80 years.

When Te Ao Māori news interviewed her at the Te Arawa regionals in 2020, she was the oldest performer at the competition.

Te Amohau recalled her early days of kapa haka in Wellington during the end of World War II.

"I was 14-years-old when I went to work in order to provide for my family. I travelled to Ngāti Pōneke during the war. Once the war ended, I came home."

Te Amohau has since performed for Ngāti Whakaue on and off but says it was never about competition in her day.

"We didn't win in our time. But Ngāti Whakaue will always come to support."

Although overtime she transitioned from standing to sitting on stage, Te Amohau did not hold back when questioned about her thoughts on the evolution of kapa haka within Te Arawa.

"I don't like it. The women used to learn the words to the haka but we'd stand behind the men, never to the fore like a man. The haka should be left to the men. Nowadays, you can't tell whether they're female or male."

He mihi aroha ki te whānau pani.