Kapa Haka festival honours Matua Murray’s legacy

Whia Mere Witika brought a photo of her late husband Matua Murray to watch over the Kapa Haka Festival at Red Beach School.

The annual Kapa Haka festival that the late Matua Murray Witika was a key part of was held last week – for the first time without him.

The significance of this was deeply felt by those organising and taking part in the festival, with special remembrance of Matua Murray part of the opening powhiri on October 28.

A photo of him was placed alongside the stage.

“Today we celebrate the fruits of Matua Murray’s work,” Red Beach School principal Julie Hepburn said.

The Tu Maia festival is a non-competitive Kapa Haka festival that celebrates all things Maori. It has been held for five years and is hosted by various schools in the area in turn: this year by Red Beach School.

Teacher Pam Mohi says Matua Murray and his wife Mere Witika were there from the festival’s earliest days.

“The festival has passed through various hands over the years and had myself and other key people join and help keep it alive,” she says. “This is now our task, with Matua’s wishes that we try our best into the future. He kept us to traditions and the kaupapa and ensured it was a safe, enjoyable and entertaining experience and environment for the performers and audience. He is dearly missed by all past and present pupils that have been blessed to experience his mana, aroha and manaaki.”

Ten local groups took part in the festival this year – nine schools and Te Herenga Waka o Orewa.

Whangaparaoa College’s opening song was dedicated to Matua Murray.