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Legacy of Tama Huata lives on in new arts and performance space

Ariki Huata 1

Tama Huata's son Ariki Huata in front of his unique window design

The legacy of Tama Huata, a leading figure in Māori performing arts and cultural development, has been celebrated and recognised with one of the public spaces in the newly redeveloped Municipal Building at Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre named after him. 

The Tama Tūranga Huata room, situated on the ground floor, and which will be used for community performing arts and exhibitions, was formally blessed last week at a ceremony attended by members of Tama’s whānau, among others.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said Tama, along with his father Canon Wi Te Tau Huata and the wider whānau, had contributed greatly to the vibrancy and promotion of the Hastings district.

Tama was instrumental in the creation of many initiatives including Te Matatini Kapa Haka Festival, Māori Music Month and the Waiata Māori Awards, the world-renowned Kahurangi Māori Dance Theatre company, Te Wānanga Whare Tapere o Te Waka Tapu o Takitimu and the new kura being built on Bennett Road at Waipatu.

“Along with Tama’s many important achievements, his father Wi composed our much-loved waiata Tutira Mai Ngā Iwi, which is one of our favourite waiata at council.

“Not only have we named and dedicated a public space to Tama, we have embedded the mauri and spiritual presence of Tama in this place as a guardian for all who enter and perform here.

“It’s truly special that his legacy and presence lives on in such a visible way to inspire our rich and varied arts and performance community into the future.”

The Tama Tūranga Huata room has been adorned with a special cloak in the form of a window decal designed by Tama’s son, Ariki Huata, in honour of his father. 

Ariki said the design represents Tama’s mana and determination and denotes the space as being one of knowledge and warmth that everyone can engage with.

“It was a privilege to design this for Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre and Hastings District Council and I hope that everyone who uses this space enjoys it.”

28 June 2022

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