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Tama Waipara recognised with New Zealand Order of Merit honour

Published Wednesday 10 January 2024

APRA AMCOS NZ wish to express our enthusiastic congratulations to Tama Waipara, who has been made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2024 New Year honours, for his services to Māori music.

Tama Waipara (Ngāti Ruapani, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou) is a cultural arts advocate, composer and performer and has been the Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival since founding it in 2019.

Tama is not only a highly-valued songwriter, composer member but has also been an incredible advocate for the development and promotion of Māori music, in many different roles over the last two decades.

Tama has been influencing the development of Māori music and young musicians through actively showcasing Māori musicians locally and internationally, particularly through Festivals such as Auckland Arts where he was Creative Associate. He is a Waiata Māori Music Awards Ambassador and has advocated for equitable Māori representation at the former Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards since 2015.

He has been a member of Pūatatangi, the national committee of Māori musicians and has been supporting rangatahi in New Zealand through the ‘Pao! Pao! Pao! Tuakana-Teina Mentoring programme’.

He is Deputy Chair of Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust and a Board Member of Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum, as well as being a SOUNZ board trustee from 2012 to 2020, and a co-chair of that board from 2020-2022.

In terms of his own musical contributions, he composed the soundtrack for ‘Merata: How Mum Decolonised The Screen’ and the feature film ‘Mahana’ for which he received the APRA Award for Best Original Music for the Feature Film. And he received the Best Roots Album award for his beautiful album ‘Fill up the Silence’ at the 2014 New Zealand Music Awards.

Other honours have included the Kiwibank Local Hero Award for Tairāwhiti in 2023, Te Waka Toi Awards, Ngā Tohu Hautūtanga Auaha Toi in 2020.

In speaking to the Gisborne Herald, Tama explained that being named in the New Year Honours is more about the kaupapa of Māori music, rather than himself.

“The unending continuum of Māori music, particularly in Tairāwhiti, is something to find joy in every day. Our artists and composers have created treasures through the generations for us all to benefit from and today it is stronger than ever”.

“I’ve been very fortunate to work alongside a host of people committed to seeing our artforms continue to grow and progress.”

He named people like Dame Hinewehi Mohi, Moana Maniapoto, Ngahiwi Apanui, Maisey Rika, Rob Ruha, Ngatapa Black, Horomona Horo, Tyna Keelan and many more, as people who have given themselves to see the artforms progress.

He thanked all those artists as well as his whānau, hapū and iwi who he said “have always scaffolded my journey with aroha”.

“Anei aku mihi aroha ki a koutou katoa.”