28 Apr 2012

Tributes for former matriarchs of Patea Maori Club

6:57 am on 28 April 2012

Tributes are being paid following the deaths of two matriarchs of the Patea Maori Club which recorded the hit song Poi E.

Hui Kahu died at her home in Hawera on Thursday night at the age of 76 after fighting cancer.

Her death was followed by that of Sylvia Kershaw, aged in her 70s, on Friday.

Ngati Ruanui chief executive Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, says their deaths are a huge loss, and both will be remembered fondly because of their passion for kapa haka and te reo Maori.

A leading vocalist Mrs Kahu, encouraged the younger generation to learn about their culture through kapa haka as a way to get out of Patea and see the world.

In additition to her work with the Patea Maori Club, Mrs Kahu had multiple roles. She was teaching the Maori language, she was involved with tribal affairs, and inspiring rangatahi to be involved with kapa haka as a way to see the world, says Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.

Mrs Kahu's body is now lying on Wai o Turi marae near Patea after spending some time on Friday afternoon at Pariroa Pa, and that burial is expected to take place on Monday morning.

And Mrs Ngarewa-Packer says although Mrs Kershaw wasn't seen at the forefront of the Patea performances, she was in the engine-room making sure things were done properly.

Mrs Kershaw kept the gusto of the club going and ensured the waiata and haka were performed the way they were taught to her, says Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.

The Patea Maori Club rose to fame in March 1984 when it released Poi E. The song went to No 1 and stayed top of the New Zealand music charts for four weeks.