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Ngoi Pēwhairangi and Tuini Ngāwai to be inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame

Story Published Thursday 15 September 2022

APRA AMCOS will honour and celebrate the late Te Kumeroa “Ngoingoi” Pēwhairangi QSM and her beloved Aunty Tuini Moetū Haangū Ngāwai when they are inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame | Te Whare Taonga Puoro o Aotearoa at the 2022 APRA Silver Scroll Awards | Kaitito Kaiaka.

The New Zealand Hall of Fame recognises both Ngoi and Tuini’s leadership and significant contributions to revitalising Māori language and culture through waiata, kapa haka, and composition. It is our pleasure to pay respects to their whānau and recognise the everlasting imprint Ngoi and Tuini have made on waiata Māori and performance.

Tuini Ngāwai (Te Whānau-a-Ruataupare), born north of Tokomaru Bay which remains her resting place, wrote more than 200 waiata throughout her lifetime. She not only composed waiata and action songs but was also a leader in revitalising Māori culture and identity. Her songwriting involved everything from love, death, war, to informal sing-a-longs written during her time in shearing gangs. Tuini's waiata are still performed today including popular ditties like ‘Kei Tangi a Big Ben’.

Tuini played an important part in Sir Apirana Ngata’s role as Māori Development Minister, catching his attention with her first written waiata ‘He Nawe Kei Roto’. Tuini formed Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū a performing group whose work assisted Ngata in recruiting for the 28th New Zealand (Māori) Battalion. Tuini wrote many of her finest songs during the war including ‘Arohaina mai e te Kingi Nui’ which was regarded as her masterpiece and became the unnofficial hymn for the Ngāti Porou soldiers.

Tuini was greatly involved in kaupapa around cultural revival and education. In 1943 Ngata appointed her as a teacher specialising in Māori culture, planting her in East Coast schools to teach tamariki about their culture through song and performance. She also involved herself in the Kotahitanga movement with a strong determination to restore Māori pride and identity alongside efforts to achieve greater recognition for the Treaty of Waitangi. As always, she had meaningful messages to convey about these kaupapa through songs such as ‘Te Kotahitanga rā e.’

Her invaluable contributions to kaupapa Māori through waiata and performance formed paths for following generations to continue uplifting the culture through music. Ngoingoi continued her aunt's legacy, collecting and publishing her compositions and carrying on the indelible cultural revival influenced by Tuini. Ngoi would later publish the book Tuini: her life and her songs (1985).

Tuini Ngāwai NZ Music Hall of Fame website

Te Kumeroa Ngoingoi Pēwhairangi
(Te Whānau-a-Ruataupare, Ngāti Porou), known affectionately as Ngoi, was one of five children born 1921 in Tokomaru Bay. Her father, Hōri Ngāwai, was a labourer and minister of the Ringatū Church and an advocate of the Kotahitanga movement, which Ngoi later supported. While she is best known for co-writing hits with high-profile Māori artists Prince Tui Teka and Dalvanius Prime, Ngoi composed many widely beloved waiata including ‘Kia Kaha Ngā Iwi’, ‘Ka Noho Au,’ and ‘Whakarongo.’ She is also deeply respected across the East Coast community as a leader, spiritual bastion, and youth advocate, and is a profound influence on many current Māori songwriters.

It was only natural that Ngoi would follow in the footsteps of her aunt Tuini Ngāwai, being heavily influenced in performance, composition, and leadership. Ngoi became a member and leader of Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū kapa haka who would travel around the country performing and entertaining guests while assisting Sir Apirana Ngata’s recruiting efforts.

Ngoi was integral to reo Māori education, having co-founded Te Ataarangi alongside Katerina Mataira, a method of learning and teaching the reo in homes and on marae that still operates today. Alongside forming Aotearoa Moana Nui a Kiwa Weavers, a kaupapa to help foster and preserve traditional weaving techniques, Ngoi was also a foundation member of the Council for Māori and South Pacific Arts, serving until her death.

This year marks 40 years since the conception of ‘Poi E’, New Zealand’s unofficial anthem written by Ngoi and produced by Dalvanius Prime for Pātea Māori Club. This was first time te reo was used in a modern context with 80’s synth and rollicking bass. ‘Poi E’ was released in 1984 and would top the charts for a month outselling all international artists. It has been in the Top 10 every decade since it’s release and is respected as a breakthrough moment for contemporary waiata.

Ngoi’s influence as a songwriter is far-reaching not only in writing beautiful, popular waiata herself, but in the way she collaborated, motivated, and encouraged others to write in te reo Māori - from kapa haka works, to chart topping hits, to compositions for royal visits. Without Ngoi, the landscape of modern songwriting and popular culture in Aotearoa would be very different.

Ngoi Pēwhairangi NZ Music Hall of Fame website

With great respects to their whanau, we feel deeply honoured to induct both Ngoi Pēwhairangi and Tuini Ngāwai into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame | Te Whare Taonga Puoro o Aotearoa.

Te Whare Taonga Puoro o Aotearoa | New Zealand Music Hall of Fame was created in 2007 by APRA AMCOS NZ | Te Tautāwhinga & Recorded Music NZ | Puoro Rekoata ki Aotearoa, to celebrate the many writers, artists and musicians who have made a significant contribution, through music, to life and culture in Aotearoa/New Zealand.