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Cultural show wins praise

KERI MOLLOY
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2013
Cultural show
SHARING CULTURE: The group, back L-R: Te Tuhi Purakau, Mori Rapana and Romana Tuiloma. Front L-R: Dena Hemara, Muritere Apiata, Wimoka Harawira, Jojo Brown and Te Wairere Waiomio-Cassidy.

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A new cultural performance at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is hot stuff on the internet and comes with a plus for the community.

TripAdvisor reviews enthuse about the performance, describing it as professional, highly entertaining, informative and energetic.

These are all qualities Waitangi National Trust cultural performance manager Mori Rapana and his team want to achieve.

"We aim to provide an educational experience, sharing history, stories and songs of Ngapuhi. Too often you go to places [cultural performances] and they sing about other people's histories."

The group puts on three half-hour shows a day to a daily total of about 150 visitors.

Mr Rapana hails from Moerewa but spent much of his life in Auckland, where most recently he lectured in performing arts at Auckland University. He's enjoying being back in the North.

The new Te Pitowhenua show is written and choreographed by him and staged by a team of performers, all Ngapuhi, from areas within Te Tai Tokerau. Most attended Bay of Islands College and for some this is their first job.

Mr Rapana runs a tight ship with stated principles of manaakitanga [hospitality] turangawaewae [foundation] and whanaungatanga [relationships].

There are compulsory training days and Mr Rapana has introduced a health initiative that is showing such benefits that he plans to inspire others to get on board.

"We disallow fizzy drinks, pies and other unhealthy items at work. Our staff bring fruit, corn and other healthy foods that will increase energy levels. Some of the team have lost between 5kg and 15kg and are embracing this."

Staff are also offered a free fitness programme and the long-term plan is to take the programme and the group's healthy eating message out to the community, on behalf of the Waitangi National Trust.

Mr Rapana acknowledges his mentors - kapa haka experts Ngapo and Pimia Wehi and the Wehi whanau, who contributed to his development as an ambassador for Maori performing arts.

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