Associate Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage, Kiri Allan has today expressed her great sadness and deepest condolences at the passing of esteemed kaumātua, Muriwai Ihakara.
“Muriwai’s passing is not only a loss for the wider creative sector but for all of Aotearoa New Zealand. The country has lost a much beloved kaumātua, kaiārahi and tohunga,” Minister Allan said.
“His death leaves a huge void. Muriwai was a renowned kapa hapa expert and a passionate and highly respected te ao Māori advocate.
“He was humble, generous and influential across generations. His was a mighty and powerful voice and he was instrumental in creating opportunities for Māori to thrive in the arts.”
Mr Ihakara served as Te Tumu Whakahaere Māori at Creative New Zealand for over a decade, and led his own kapa haka group, Te Hikuwai, to the Māori performing arts festival, Te Matatini, which he also judged several times.
The 63-year-old’s body was returned to Te Waiiti marae on the shores of Lake Rotoiti yesterday, where he will be farewelled at a tangi.
“He was a kaumātua for Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Makino and was heavily involved with various kaupapa Māori entities and marae.”
“The significant legacy Muriwai has left behind, alongside the mātauranga Māori that he’s passed on, will continue to benefit future generations of Māori to come.
“My thoughts and aroha are with Muriwai’s whānau and loved ones,” Ms Allan said.