Maori-mad Brazilians brought to tears by Tuku Iho event in Rio de Janeiro


The who's who of Brazilian tourism is moved to tears by a Maori cultural event in Rio de Janeiro, while others are getting a permanent mark of Kiwi culture. Laura McQuillan reports.

A Rotorua kapa haka might be Brazil's biggest cover act since Frank Sinatra, with a te reo version of The Girl from Ipanema bringing Brazilian VIPs to tears.

The Rio de Janeiro performance of one of Brazil's most famous songs was a surprise for a who's who of tourism and politics at the opening of Maori art and culture exhibit Tuku Iho on Friday (NZ time).

Also in the audience was Paulo Jobim, son of the song's composer, Tom Jobim. He later told organisers the performance was beautiful, and his heart hurt with emotion.

A Brazilian audience was brought to tears by a kapa haka rendition of The Girl from Ipanema.

A Brazilian audience was brought to tears by a kapa haka rendition of The Girl from Ipanema.

Many thousands of other Rio residents will be treated to the same experience over the next two weeks, during the event backed by Rotorua tourism and cultural organisation Te Puia, and its Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI).

The kapa haka, accompanied by Kiwi singer Ria Hall, will perform at sites like the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, and as the pre-match entertainment before Brazil's biggest club football team kicks off at Maracana Stadium.

At an exhibition space in Rio's botanic gardens, master carver James Rickard will complete a huge carving, surrounded by an installation of Maori art.

But for many Brazilians, the biggest appeal of Tuku Iho is a trio of ta moko tattooists, who'll leave a permanent mark on about 60 locals.

In Rio, many tattoo studios offer the option of "a Maori" - a label used to describe various tribal tattoos, which are in hot demand among locals.

The name drew a chuckle from ta moko artist Arekatera 'Katz' Maihi.

"It's all good. As Maoris, we'd like to think that we could go into any shop and ask for a Brazilian," he quipped.

Ad Feedback

As an added bonus, Tuku Iho's tattoos are free of charge: thanks to Brazil's infamous bureaucracy, organisers are unable to charge for the experience.

It's hoped the event will help ensure the "Maori" tattoos that Brazilian artists create are more homage than cultural appropriation.

"Hopefully what we're doing is creating those discussions about integrity in art forms," says NZMACI's director Karl Johnstone.

"We can be, sometimes, oversensitive around the use of our design ... Really it's about having knowledge about which forms are okay to use, which are generic, and sometimes which have more meaning associated with them and should only be used by particular people at certain times."

Tuku Iho has a number of aims: showcasing culture, building indigenous ties, and encouraging tourism and trade.

The group will meet with the Amazonian Indian tribe Kayapo, and teach rugby to locals, who are increasingly switching codes from their beloved football.

Brazil is the third destination for Tuku Iho, following exhibitions in Chile and Argentina, which stemmed from a 2012 waka voyage from the Far North to Easter Island.

Johnstone admits South America's red tape has added extra costs to the exhibition - funded by Te Puia from its Rotorua tourism business - but the organisation is able to cover the additional expenses from elsewhere in its budget.

But the added cost seems worth it: before the event even opened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian tourism operators were already expressing interest in adding New Zealand to their destinations.

Te Puia's chief executive Tim Cossar says South Americans tend to find Maori culture, particularly performances, "unbelievably powerful".

Of a recent performance in Sao Paulo, Cossar says, "unlike a lot of audiences, they actually gravitated to the front and wanted to be very close to the performers, where a lot of countries - because it's quite loud and can be seen as quite aggressive - they sort of stand back."

He has high hopes for a massive leap in South American tourist numbers to New Zealand - from 26,000 last year, to as many as 150,000 a year by 2020 - after Air New Zealand adds Argentina to its flight paths in December.

 - Stuff


Ad Feedback
special offers

Truck smashes through store

The truck came to a rest inside the store.

An unmanned truck has left a trail of destruction in north Auckland after it was parked in a petrol station with it brake left off.

Schools 'screaming' as rolls grow

Long Bay College principal Russell Brooke expects the roll to grow as primary and intermediate school students go ...

A college principal says ballooning primary school rolls will carry over to high schools, as children grow up.

Kitchen cabinet feeds the hungry video

Paradise used to give away about 10 boxes of food per day, now it's about 20 from the cabinet.

A central Auckland restaurant is giving away even more wholesome free food to the needy.

Overcrowding frustrates principals

Torbay School principal Wendy Sandifer wants more modern classrooms, like this one, at her growing school.

Pupils taught in dental clinics, staffrooms and libraries, due to overcrowded Auckland schools.


Stolen medals mysteriously return

The missing medals are, from left to right, the New Zealand Operational Service Medal, NZ General Service Medal - Sinai ...

Medals pinched from former Army major returned to his home under cover of darkness.

Measles in Wellington

The measles virus is highly contagious and easily spread from one person to another through the air via sneezing or coughing.

Health officials say sick person may have spread illness before being diagnosed.

Commuter chaos on the way

Masterton companyTranzit is the preferred bidder to take over 60 per cent of Wellington's bus services.

Bus standstill looms as Wellington's drivers reject pay offer from new boss and threaten to strike.

Chef detained at night market

Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen owner Daeng Neuang-Keo.

Immigration staff nab Thai chef, as food truck owner blames a misunderstanding.


'Pied Piper' left huge shoes to fill

William Viliamu, 41, died while diving in Kaikoura on Mother's Day. His wife, Rena Viliamu, said Wira was like the Pied ...

The death of long-serving teacher, social worker and "good guy" William Viliamu, who died diving in Kaikoura, left huge shoes to fill.

Homes left to rot

Boarded up and vacant in Linwood.

Almost every neighbourhood has one – a damaged and dilapidated eyesore. Who will crack down?

David Bain's new name, life

David Bain at his home in Christchurch after the Government's compensation announcement.

The 45-year-old, acquitted of his family's murder, is now William Davies and is moving overseas.

'Gypsy Day' u-turn

Cows are moved, near Rakaia.

It's deemed offensive, so sharemilkers moving cows to farms need a new name.


Hard times after the flood

Ian Eggleton and the glamping site.

A couple's dream job is over in the aftermath of the Coromandel flooding.

Schools' vetting costs

Schools will be forced to sell sausages to raise the average fee of $600 to be paid to police for vetting staff.

Larger schools may have to rely on sausage sizzles to pay for police to vet their staff and keep kids safe.

Med school progress

Waikato District Health Board chief executive Dr Nigel Murray said the Waikato med school bid is focused on improving ...

High-level talks continue on Waikato's bold med school bid.

Trump lacks mana video

President Donald Trump muscled himself to the front of the Nato pack during a photo opportunity in Brussels on Thursday, ...

People with real mana don't have to shove to the front - the crowd automatically parts.


The war on myrtle rust

Myrtle rust fungal spores found on plants such as pohutukawa, rata and manuka.

The battle against myrtle rust gets harder every day, but those in the thick of it remain confident of victory.

From beyond the grave

The Tariki Hall committee members want to sell the hall and give the proceeds to charity because the income doesn't meet ...

To sell this rural hall, permission was needed from the original trustees - who have long been dead.

Life of service

Marie Panapa shared a vision of better outcomes for casualties of  mainstream education.

OBITUARY: Marie Panapa was widely revered and respected for an education success story.

Guilty to manslaughter

Taranaki woman Helen Rose pleaded guilty to manslaughter during an appearance in the High Court on Friday.

Close to a year after her partner's death, a South Taranaki woman admits to killing him.


Bringing tattooing into the light video

Mikal Carter works on a kea tattoo for a client.

In the Shade is an art studio where two creative souls meet.

Boost not enough

Mental health services will receive an extra $224 million over four years.

Campaigner says people with mental health problems need more government help.

Robbery arrest

The Rangiora Ave Mini Mart was robbed in 2016.

A 17-year-old is to appear in court charged over a daylight dairy robbery.

Hubbard remembered for kindness

The late Graham Hubbard, in his former role as Palmerston North coroner.

Former Palmerston North coroner Graham Hubbard fades away.


Big win for musclebound mum

Hollie Pluck won the Bodybuilding Championships in Christchurch in her category as well as best in show.

Toned, tanned and ripped, one Nelson woman proves the fairer sex can multi-task.

NMIT boss resigns

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology CEO Tony Gray has resigned.

The chief executive of the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology is leaving after 11 years in the role.

Boost for families

Low income families in Mapua eligible for the accommodation supplement could get an extra $145 a week following Budget ...

Low income households in Mapua among big Budget winners.

Hunter rolling with 'pedal power' video

Hunter Grooby 6, with his sister Abby 7, and his new customised trike.

A young boy with cerebral palsy has the whole community behind him as he gets a new set of wheels.


Mac is the man

Richard McNamara will be responsible for Tasman, Marlborough-Kaikoura, the West Coast, North Canterbury, Christchurch ...

Marlborough's rural fire boss Richard McNamara has landed one of the top jobs in the new amalgamated fire service.

Two suspicious fires

Blenheim Volunteer Fire Brigade crews responded to two suspicious fires on Thursday night.

Months on from a spate of suspicious fires in Blenheim, fire crews responded to two suspicious fires in one night.

Help for renters

Finance Minister Steven Joyce holds up a copy of Budget 2017, which includes the Family Incomes Package.

Budget reacts to "crazy" city rents in Blenheim, but will landlords follow suit?

Board that kicked the hornet's nest

The board is reconsidering moving district nurses to the health hub on Queen St, in the former FloorPride Civic Theatre ...

Angry mob warns health boss he'll get stung if he shifts district nurses away from hospital.

South Canterbury

Pink promotes positive message

Timaru Christian School pupils dressed in pink to promote the anti-bullying message.

Timaru youths have taken a stand against bullying, by donning colourful and creative clothing.

Accommodation boost

Finance Minister Steven Joyce announced his first Budget on Thursday.

The Government has recognised parts of SC have become more expensive.

Walsh to measure up

Tom Walsh goes into the Diamond League meet in Eugene as the year's fourth best shot put performer.

Tom Walsh has some hot competition in this year's Diamond League opener.

Timaru man missing

Michael Craig McGrath went missing on Sunday evening.

Police seeking sightings of  three missing South Island men, including one from Timaru.


Your chance to cast a vote

Cyclist Eddie Dawkins.

Your chance to have your say for the 2016/2017 Southland Sports Awards.

Bus stuck on the beach

Jeff Leeden got his 1964 VAL Bedford bus, Chubby Cheeks, stuck in the sand on Oreti Beach.

Off on an adventure, two men travelling from Melbourne found their vintage bus stuck in the sand at Oreti Beach.

Health professionals unhappy

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Ian Powell.

A medical union has accused the Government of "continued neglect" with its annual health budget announcement on Thursday.

Council's 'Gypsy Day' u-turn

Cows are moved, near Rakaia.

It's deemed too offensive so a new name for sharemilkers moving cows to farms is needed.

Ad Feedback