Vania Pirini-Hurunui, a descendant of Te Anau and granddaughter of the late Mohi Fowler, received her Bachelor’s degree in Management at Otago Polytechnic majoring in Project Management.

Vania with her proud mother on graduation day.

Vania with her proud mother on graduation day.

Her proud mother, Mateka Pirini (née Anglem) was there to tautoko her at the graduation ceremony in Ōtākou.

Hiria’s take on Te Matatini

I am grateful to Arowhenua and Ngāi Tahu for the wonderful experience of attending Te Matatini.

I happened to be at the kaumātua meeting when the question came up for the count. I feel sorry for those who missed out. Please make sure you book for upcoming events as soon as you hear about them, especially if you have an email address.

I have taken over Peter Hopkinson’s role as secretary for kaumātua to allow him to retire. Thank you Peter for all the hours you have put in to help us over and beyond the call of duty. I hope you will advise me as I go along as you have a lifetime of business knowledge and tikanga.

I was thrilled that kaumātua were provided for royally both by Ngāi Tāhū and our drivers, Gwen and Debbie.

I was up at 4.30am every morning to be taken down to  a fabulous breakfast at the Chateau-on-the-park, by Gwen or Debbie and often my  door was too heavy to open and I couldn’t tie my shoe laces. I was driven to Hagley Park early to find a seat in the front row; I was never first there and fought to get the last seat. Other kaumātua in our party were looked after according to their situation, I was very impressed.

We were given a kaumātua bag on the first day filled with presents but mine was stolen off the golf cart on the last day.
We were taken by golf carts to and from the gate to our kaumātua tent and the ambulance was always there beside four port-a-loos.

Kapa haka has changed so much since I toured Aotearoa and Australia in 1957 with “Māori” when Aroha Pahi and I were the only Reps from Te Waipounamu. Kapa Haka always had two kaumātua chaperones onstage and ours were Mere and Henare Toka – he made me an outcast for wearing false eyelashes on stage.

Volunteers in our tent brought us drinks and kai, which was choice—plenty of seafood. The kai was beautifully presented at the feast on black tablecloths with chrome chairs inside a white marquee.

I didn’t like one scene where they hung a Māori on his knees which I thought out of context and inappropriate for children to see – there was no story or reason to it. The warrior on stilts was fantastic especially when he took the pose like a tuatara god – that was dangerous and difficult to hold.

Several choir had wonderful harmony and I renewed my acquaintance with Rim D Paul who is the director of The National Māori Choir and ex- Māori-Hi-Quins.

At the pōwhiri Temairiki Williams looked great picking up the koha with his very classy footwork.

Weteni was fabulous with his warriors with plenty of tattooed buns which really were well presented and very entertaining. They had obviously worked out for months, their wāhine performed just as well with a sexy trim frontline.

I got a lot of kisses from the television presenters being in the right place at the right time as they went around the table.I didn’t visit the stalls, and no one helped me on the last request but I was content.

Thank you Ngāi Tahu for making this possible. It was a shame Waitaha did not come onstage again at the end to perform as hosts ‘Now Is The Hour.’ For we must say goodbye, soon you’ll be sailing far across the sea. While you’re away kindly remember me, When you return you’ll find me waiting here. Nā Hiria.