16 Oct 2008

Ngati Porou mourns death of kuia

6:50 pm on 16 October 2008

Ngati Porou is mourning the death of kuia Merekaraka Saani Ngarimu, who died on Wednesday. She was 85.

She is lying in state at Hiruharama Marae in Ruatoria. Her funeral will be at Hiruharama Marae on Saturday morning.

Mrs Ngarimu was last year given a Sir Kingi Ihaka award for her lifetime contribution to Maori performing arts.

As a young woman she was trained by Apirana Ngata to lead the great Ngati Porou haka Ruaumoko at Wanganui in 1945, to kick off fundraising for the Ngarimu Scholarship.

Waatea News reports she reprised the role for the Queen's royal visit in 1953 and remains the only woman to have led that haka.

Mrs Ngarimu passed her knowledge of haka, waiata and other performing arts to generations of Ngati Porou and others.

She was awarded a Queen's Service Medal in 1984.