Organisers of the National Waiata Māori Music Awards have had to make the tough decision yet again to move the annual event online, with safety of the people being priority.
It comes after the Government announced Auckland will stay at alert level 4 for now while the rest of the country is at level 2.
The 2021 awards event was due to be held on Friday, September 10, in Hawke's Bay. Traditionally, a large number of guests and finalists would come from all over Aotearoa, as well as some from overseas to celebrate our award recipients.
This year we announce two of our iconic award recipients: former politician, educator and kapa haka exponent Tā Pita Sharples is this year's recipient of the Waiata Māori Awards "Te Tohu Kaitiaki Tikanga Pūoru - Keeper of Tradition" iconic award.
The award recognises Tā Pita's lifelong contribution to the retention and promotion of traditional waiata, through not only education but also in his role establishing and leading Tāmaki based kapa haka Te Roopū Manutaki which he set up in 1968.
Tā Pita has shown tremendous leadership throughout the years and for over half a century has provided young urban Māori a haven to celebrate cultural identity.
"To honour Tā Pita this year at the Waiata Māori Awards in celebration of his dedication and love of all things Māori, Te Roopu Manutaki has given Aotearoa a wealth of iconic waiata Māori and his nomination was well supported."
Tā Pita of Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngai Te Kikiri o te Rangi and Ngāti Pahauwera was brought up in Waipawa and educated at Takapau Primary, Waipukurau District High School and Te Aute College.
He led the establishment of intertribal marae Hoani Waititi in West Auckland and founded the country's first kura kaupapa Māori in 1985. Among his list of achievements he created Te Whare Tū Taua O Aotearoa the Inter-National School of Māori Weaponry.
He was Tohunga Toi Huarewa o Te Wānanga Whare Tapere o Takitimu, Māori Party co-leader from 2004 to 2013 and is a member of the Ngāti Kahungunu iwi Taumata.
Joining Tā Pita this year in receiving an iconic award is singer Che Fu who is the recipient of this year's Te Tohu o te Ahumahi Pūoru - Music Industry Award which celebrates success and contribution to music.
Che Fu, a founding member of the band Supergroove, rose to fame when he featured on DLT's production of number one hit Chains. As a solo artist he has sold thousands of albums both in New Zealand and internationally.
His first three studio albums received platinum and gold sales and produced hits that have become entrenched into New Zealand song history.
Che Fu is of Tainui and Ngāti Raukawa descent on his mother Miriama Rauhihi Ness' side and Niuean on his father Tigilau Ness' side. Che Fu is relentless in his dedication to taking music to the country.
Recognising Che and Tā Pita's contribution to Māori music is a wonderful end to Māori Music Month. There will still be an awards event for 2021, to acknowledge all recipients but there will be an online version, to be held at the later date of October 9.
We plan to run it as an online, virtual event but still have a presence at Toitoi - Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre, the venue where we planned to run the awards event this year.
There would be a mixture of pre-recorded material and live performances for the virtual event which will be streamed online.
We know a lot of people will be disappointed, we wanted this year's awards event to be a positive way to bring people through the challenges of 2020 and 2021. We still want people to tune in to watch this year's awards event, to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our Māori singers, song-writers and performers.
The Waiata Māori Music Awards were launched in 2007 and celebrate the achievements of outstanding traditional and contemporary music by Māori artists. Waiata gives so much to the mind, body and soul and it's one reason we should celebrate our own.
Winners will be announced at the online event October 9, 2021. Category finalists have been announced and can be viewed on the Waiata Maori Music Awards Facebook page.
• Ellison Huata is National Waiata Māori Music Awards executive director