All the right moves

Posted by Superior on Jun 14th, 2009 and filed under Celebrities. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Wiremu has all the right moves

Carrying on the traditions of tupuna who lived hundreds of years before him is a great honour for Waikawa Bay teenager Wiremu Herbert.

For the past four years, the Queen Charlotte College year-13 student has been learning how to use taiaha (Maori longstaff) at the Waikawa Marae under the tutorage of Mike Elkington and Kiley Nepia.

Taiaha training consists of learning various ahai on-guard movements and combinations of positions and rigorous moves, and the 17-year-old, of Te Atiawa and Nga Puhi descent, has become skilled enoughto now help tutor younger boys.

“Mum [Paia Riwaka] was the one who told me I should get into it and at first I kind of thought `Nah’, but then I went and it really grew on me.

“It’s sweet mucking about and sparring with the boys.”

Learning about the history of taiaha was also interesting, Wiremu said.

Late last year, he was one of seven Marlborough men selected to train in the art of mau rakau, another traditional Maori weaponry ritual.

Last month, the mau rakau group led the 100-strong Rangitane group into the Canterbury Museum chamber to reclaim the bones of their tupuna (ancestors).

Wiremu said the experience gave him a huge rush of adrenalin.

Apart from taiaha tutoring, the college council member and kapa haka leader also helps out at the marae most often washing the dishes and doing what his mum tells him.

In summer, he shows cruise-ship visitors around the marae, explaining Maori culture and customs and performing in the marae’s kapa haka and music group. .

When he was not working at his part-time job as a kitchenhand at Waikawa’s Jolly Roger Bar and Cafe, Wiremu was one of the more than 500 people helping renovate Waikawa Marae as part of Maori Television’s Marae DIY show at the end of April.

Although not entirely sure what he wanted to do after leaving school at the end of the year, Wiremu said one thing was certain it would involve performing arts and hip-hop dancing.

“I guess I’m self-taught dancer and I love it. I just do it with my mates for now, but I would love to do something properly with it. Other than that, I’ll keep with taiaha, basketball, skateboarding, eating and being a clown.”

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