A Northland teen's passion for her Māori culture has taken her all the way to Greenland — and led her to open a Six60 concert during the band's current tour of Europe.
Yves Brown, from Puketona in the Bay of Islands, has just returned from a two-week, once-in-a-lifetime trip to the vast, frozen territory.
There she facilitated Māori games in a series of pop-up workshops around the Greenlandic capital Nuuk, taught songs and poi, gave a lecture on Māori atua (gods), and — most nerve-wrackingly — sang unaccompanied during Greenland's indigenous sports awards, a performance that was broadcast on Greenlandic TV.
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Yves, who is of Waikato-Tainui and Ngāti Raukawa descent, landed the opportunity through Kane Harnett, a Māori based in Denmark where he teaches haka for business team-building.
Harnett had been invited to the Greenlandic equivalent of the Māori sports awards, called Maligassiuisut, but he needed to bring an expert on Māori games. He also wanted a woman for gender balance.
After his first few options fell through he contacted Northland-based Māori games expert Harko Brown and asked if he could recommend anyone. Brown didn't have to look any further than his daughter.
Yves said she felt at home among the indigenous Greenlanders and they in turn related instantly to Māori culture.
''It was crazy. When we taught them the pūkana, they did it so perfectly, with their indigenous features it was like being back in New Zealand.''
They also picked up the poi as if they had been doing it for years, she said.
While Greenland was bone-chillingly cold with temperatures down to -10C, by the end of her stay she was used to it and a -1C day felt balmy.
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If the Greenland experience wasn't enough, on her way home she performed a karanga calling Six60 onto the stage ahead of their Copenhagen show and got to hang out with the band afterwards. That also came about through Harnett's connections.
She told band members that Kerikeri High School's band and kapa haka group had joined forces at prizegiving to perform a te reo version of their hit Don't Forget Your Roots.
''They said they were really happy and proud that people were singing their songs, and that the Māori and Pākehā sides of the school came together to do it,'' Yves said.
This is Yves' final year at Kerikeri High School but the trip slotted perfectly into her exam schedule so it was ''meant to be''. She arrived home two hours before her English exam.
The experience had made her a lot more confident, she said.
''Normally I'm with my dad so I can rely on him if I don't know what to do. This time I had to pull out everything I have. But I've been training for something like this, and surrounded by it, my whole life.''
''It just shows where Māori culture can take you,'' she said.
Her trip was filmed as part of a documentary which will be launched in Nuuk next year. Yves has been invited back for the premiere.
Next year Yves plans to study PE and Māori and indigenous studies at Waikato University.