Whanau big part of Whanoa

By Greg Taipari

Over the next few weeks The Daily Post senior reporter Greg Taipari will profile the six Te Arawa groups performing at the 21st Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival. This week's group profile is on Nga Uri o Te Whanoa.


When it comes to leadership it's hard to look past Nga Uri o Te Whanoa group leader and performer Anaru Grant.

Mr Grant, along with his wife, Donna, are the group leaders of Whanoa and share the responsibility of preparing the popular group with whanau (family) members Howard Morrison jnr, Inia Maxwell and Kahurangi Maxwell.

During a performance Mr Grant oozes mana (authority), grace and power. But it's not just about how you act on stage.

"First and foremost, the reason that Donna and I do it, is because it allows us to be involved with our immediate family ... our two sons perform, it's something we can all do together and then you extend from there to your brothers, your nephews and nieces ... So it allows that concept to grow and develop.

"I'm always excited and honoured to stand up on the stage, knowing that you're standing with your own ...

We all know it's not an easy job being a leader at times because you're dealing with human beings and everybody has emotions. So it's about being able to balance those emotions, different attitudes, different perspectives and mould that into a group that are all fully focused on the goals at the end of the day."

Whanau, iwi (tribe) and hapu (subtribes) are an important element within Whanoa. It was what helped create the group back in 2007. The group originally was made up of performers from the Morrison, Maxwell, Mitchell and the Grant whanau combined.

Mr Grant said the group's name acknowledged and strengthened the members' ties to Ngati Whakaue.

"The idea is that we would come back and actually spend sometime on this side of the family, because we had been at Rangiwewehi for a number of years ... The Morrisons have a close association with Ngati Whakaue so that's basically how we came about forming this group."

This month's Te Matatini National Festival from February 20 to 24 will be Whanoa's third nationals, and since it first performed at Te Arawa 21s in 2007 the group has been joined by other whanau.

"We've got a strong Houltham family. They are quite a large contingent of our group today, obviously my family, the Grants, and the Morrisons obviously," Mr Grant said.

"From all those relationships have come working relationships; where work members have come to join the group, have come [their] direct blood relationships."

The group now consisted of different iwi such as Taitokerau, Tuhoe, Mataatua and Tainui.

Nga Uri o Te Whanoa has drawn what is being dubbed the "pool of death".

Pool three - Te Kei, contains four Te Arawa groups. With only the three top groups going through from each pool, one Te Arawa group won't make the finals on the Sunday.

However, with the nationals returning to Rotorua after a 17-year absence it was more about the return to the stage rather than who was going to be eliminated, Mr Grant said.

Pool three - Te Kei

Te Pou O Mangataawhiri, Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao, Te Mataarae i Orehu, Te Kapahaka o Ruatoki, Turanga Ake, Te Whatukura, Ruatahuna Kakahu Mauku, Te Ahikomau a Hamo te Rangi, Nga Potiki a Hinehopu, Nga Uri o Te Whanoa, Hatea, Tu Te Maungaroa.

Nga Uri o Te Whanoa:

Tutors: Howard Morrison jnr, Inia Maxwell and Kahurangi Maxwell.

Group leaders: Anaru Grant, Donna Grant.

Kaitataki tane: Inia Maxwell.

Kaitataki wahine: Kahurangi Maxwell.

Placing at Te Arawa regionals: Third.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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