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E tau ana ngā whakaaro o te tokorua nei a Andre me tana wahine rangatira a Gaylene Ahipene ki a whakawhiti atu rāua ki Piripane mahi ai mo te wā poto noa, e rima tau noa iho, e hika mā, kua hipa noa atu i te kotahi tekau mā toru o ngā tau ināianei me te mea kua whakarewangia e rāua tō rāua ake Ao Māori, hari katoa ana te ngākau.
Whānau ai a rāua tamariki tokowha katoa i Piripane. Ko Te Haeata Ahipene te mātāmua e waru o ngā tau, ko Te Urunga-o-te-Rā Ahipene te tuarua he ono o ngā tau, nā wai rā ko Te Uhikairangi Ahipene he whā o ngā tau, ā, ko Te Ahikōmau Ahipene e rua noa o ngā tau tā rātou whakapākanga.
Māori noa tō rātou ao, kāinga mai aha noa atu mai. Ko te kī a Dre ki ngā mahita kura o āna tamariki, kia kāua e whoatu he mahi kāinga ki āna tamariki, ko te wāhanga nei ki te kāinga noa iho te wā e ako ai rātou i ngā waiata me te reo otia tō rātou ao taketake.
He ahakoa kāre rawa ngā mahita i tāhuri mai, nā wai rā ka kite i te pai o ngā whakaaro o ngā mātua. Ko Auaha tō rātou kamupene koia te waka kawe i ngā whakaaro auaha ki te ao whānui i tēnei taha mai o Te Tai o Rehua. Mā te kapa haka e nanao atu ai rāua ki te mārea, me he kamupene pākehā, me ko te kāwanatanga, he huinga a mōro, ko tētehi huinga hākinakina rānei.
"Nō māua te whakaaro ki te hūnuku mai ki Piripane kia rongo ai māua ki tētehi āhua noho kē atu, me uaua kē ka kite i tētehi huarahi ngāwari e tau pono ai tō tātou Ao Māori ki tētehi whenua tauhou, he ahakoa tēnei whakaaro kua tino rangatira kē māua i te nui o te hiahiatia ki te mauri o tō tātou ao taketake, mā te āta para i te huarahi e tau ai ngā waewae ki te whenua e tū ai ngā poupou o tō tātou whare me te mea hoki kia kaha kē māua ki te whakahoahoa e kaha koke whakatemua ai tō māua mahi".
He mātanga kē te tokorua nei ki te ao o Rēhia. Nō Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Tapuika me Wāhiao a Dre. E whai pānga ai a Gaylene ki Te Tai Rāwhiti ki ngā kāinga o roto o Ngāti Porou pēnei i a Rangitukia me Te Araroa.
I Tākitimu rāua e mahi ana mō ngā tau e toru kātahi rāua ka hoki mai ki Rotorua. Kātahi ka rere atu ngā mātua o Gaylene ki Piripane ki te manaaki i tā rāua mokopuna, nā wai rā ka whāia ngā mātua e te tokorua nei.
"Ka whakatakotoria e māua tētehi rautaki kia kāua e roa atu i ngā tau e rima, e weta, kua eke nei māua ki te kotahi tekau mā toru o ngā tau inaianei…"
He pouako kapa haka rāua mā Tūranga Ake he rōpū haka nō Piripane, ā tū mai rātou i Te Matatini i Rotorua nei i te tau e rua mano kotahi tekau mā toru, me Te Matatini i tū i Otautahi i te tau e rua mano kotahi tekau mā rima.
"Ka pau i a māua kotahi tekau o ngā tau tūturu ki ao kapa haka engari anō tētehi kōingo itiiti nei e mura ana ko te taha auaha tēnā".
"I whakatepēnei ai māua ki a kāua māua e whakapōreareangia e te ao Māori", hai tā Dre. Whoi anō, nā te mate urutā nei kua tino piki te hiahiatia ki Te Ao Māori , " Kai te taumata e rua rau paiheniti te wāriu!".
"Kua hereherengia te iwi nā tēnei ngārara.
"Ko ngā whakatupuranga tuatoru, ko ngā whakatupuranga tuawha kai kōnei e noho ana e rapu nei i tō rātou whakapapa me tō rātou tūākiritanga".
Ka whakarewangia a Dre ki te tūnga, Pou Whakahaere Māori mā te tīma whutupōro All-Stars i te tau kua pahemo atu nei, ā, kai te mau tonu i a ia i tēnei tūnga i te tau hou nei.
Ka hīnawenawe katoa te tūākiri o te rangatira whakahaere o Xero NZ i tā Auaha whakapūare i te hui nui o Xercon , koia nei tētehi o ngā huinga rangatira katoa o te ao pākihi. Nā Auaha hoki i kawe i te mana Māori i te huinga Indigenous Youth Summit tētehi kaupapa rīki nui whakaharahara.
He wānanga tikanga hoki ka whakaranungia ai ki a rātou kaupapa. Kua tāia hoki o rāua kanohi ki te uhi o Mataora he mea whakanui i tā rāua ekenga mārenatanga e rima tau te kaha, kua waihongia tētehi wāhanga o te kanohi ka whakakīa ki te tawatawa a tō rāua ekenga ki te kotahi tekau o ngā tau te kaha.
Me tō rāua whakahīhī ki a rāua tamariki-Piripane nei e mārama ana ki te haere ngātahi atu me te ia o te hāpori.
"Koia ko rātou ko te whakaihiihi i a māua". Hei tā Dre. " Ki ngā tangihanga i Piripane nei, ka whaikōrero ahau, ka tū āku tamariki ki te whakakīnaki i taku whaikōrero he mōhio nō rātou".
He mōhio hoki nō Dre ko tēnei mea te mātauranga he mutunga kore. Ko tā te tangata he whai he whai he whai. Kai te pae tata nei tētehi huarahi mahi me Te Wānanga o Awanuiarangi.
Mā Auaha te tohu paetahi kapa haka e kawe mā NZQA te nama. Ka timatahia tēnei kaupapa a te Pepuere he rua pea ngā mātua tauira. Whoi anō,
"E mea ana te pepeha a ngā pakeke, e kore e ngaro he takere waka nui!"
Andre Ahipene agreed with his wife Gaylene that they would relocate to Brisbane and give it a try for five years.
Thirteen years on, they have literally created their own Āo Māori and are loving it. Their four children were born there. Te Haeata Hinewaiora Ahipene (8), Te Urunga-o-te-Ra Kōpare Ahipene (6), Te Uhikairangi Ngāti Ahipene (4), Te Ahi Kōmau Tiheia Ahipene (2).
In their home, the learnings and rituals are all of te āo Māori.
Dre has told teachers not to give his children homework because home was for tikanga Māori not western culture. The teachers didn't like it but grudgingly agreed.
AUAHA is their company, their waka for navigating the world of creativity to global wellbeing.
Kapa haka is how they reach their audience — whether it be corporate, government or gatherings in a mall or at sports events.
"We made a lifestyle choice to come to Brisbane. It took a bit of time to bridge the gap between the lifestyle over here and tikanga Māori.
"But we didn't know there would be such a huge demand.
"It just took a bit of time to get experience under our belts. Networks are key to making progress and vital to success."
The Ahipenes were experienced kapa haka performers before they went to Brisbane. Dre is of Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Tapuika and Wāhiao and Gaylene links to Tai Rāwhiti through Ngāti Porou, Rangitukia and Te Araroa.
They worked in Queenstown for three years before returning to Rotorua. Then Gaylene's parents moved to Brisbane to be near their mokopuna and the younger couple followed.
"We planned to give it a try for five years but 13 years later ..."
The couple tutored Brisbane kapa haka Tūranga Ake to Te Matatini in 2013 at Rotorua and 2015 in Christchurch.
"We did a solid 10 years tutoring kapa haka but we wanted to develop more, with more creative elements.
"We moved here to get away from Māori," he chuckles and shakes his head.
They have noticed a massive surge in interest in te āo Māori since the covid pandemic.
"Approximately 200 per cent demand. "People can't get out of here so are looking to find themselves. They are searching for that missing piece.
"There are third or fourth generation over here, looking to establish their whakapapa and tuakiritanga."
In the world of Indigenous rugby league, Dre was appointed the Māori All-Stars Cultural Advisor for 2021.
He was proud of the opportunity to propel Te Āo Māori into this arena.
AUAHA scored a big hit on the corporate stage too, with Xero NZ managing director Craig Hudson talking about the shivers down his spine as the group opened Xerocon, considered a mammoth event in the business accounting world.
The Indigenous Youth Summit, part of the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League, was a chance for the youngsters to take part in various cultural and leadership workshops. AUAHA facilitated a number of haka workshops.
Tikanga sessions were also delivered, and this directly refers to Māori customary practices or behaviours.
Gaylene and Dre have moko kanohi which they had to mark their five-year wedding anniversary. They have left space to add more for their 10th anniversary.
They are proud of their Brisbane-born children who move easily within communities.
"They are quite inspiring," says Dre. "At tangihanga over here I get up to speak and the
kids sing the waiata kīnaki. Our kids know the tikanga and are proud to take part."
Dre says people need to continually upskill themselves and is grateful for the internet and podcasts.
And he is even more excited by opening a pathway with Te Wānanga ō Awanuiārangi.
AUAHA will be pouako for a Bachelor of Performing Arts degree funded by NZQA.
The course starts next month and it is planned that there will be two intakes a year.
"This is a massive breakthrough for whānau living here."