Poi E 30th birthday looms

The Patea Maori Club is to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its 1984 hit Poi E in front of thousands of rugby fans later this year.

The club will perform the song, which spent four weeks at No 1 on the New Zealand charts, at the Hurricanes clash against the Chiefs at Westpac Stadium on June 28.

Club chairperson Waimarie Cassidy said the group had not planned anything special to mark the anniversary themselves so were looking forward to showcasing a new generation of Patea performers.

"Our rangatahi are proud to be performing Poi E and hopefully the new boppers will be break-dancing too," said Cassidy.

About 20 of the 30 original performers are still part of the group.

(Paki) Elizabeth Mary Hopkins, a leading member at the club, died earlier this month.

"We now have our children and grandchildren coming through and learning the song and its message," Cassidy said.

Written in te reo, Poi E combines poi, Maori singing and hip-hop influences. It was the highest selling single in the country in 1984, going double platinum and selling more than 20,000 copies.

"Every performance we always do our number one," said Cassidy.

The success of Poi E meant the club has toured throughout New Zealand and played in Britain, including a Royal Command Performance.

Club secretary Patricia Ngarewa said the song's success repaid the faith Patea musician and composer Dalvanius Prime and Maori linguist Ngoi Pewhairangi had in their song.

The track was often credited with promoting Maori pride and the importance of learning te reo.

"Dal always used to say te reo, te reo, te reo, we must not lose our language," Ngarewa said.

A quick look at the song's video is a nostalgic flashback to the 80s.

Filmed in Patea it features the club with family, friends, break-dancers, poi dancers and roller skaters.

In 2010 Poi E featured in the hit movie Boy and it returned to the charts, making it the only song to make it on to the New Zealand Top 20 in three separate decades, after it also charted in 2009 on the back of a Vodafone promotion.

Cassidy said the Patea Maori Club believed Poi E "will live on long after we have gone".

Christine Walsh is a Witt journalism student

Taranaki Daily News