16 May 2014

Morvin Simon lies at Kaiwhaiki

9:33 pm on 16 May 2014

Mourners continue to pour into Whanganui to pay their last respects to the composer, historian, academic and statesman, Morvin Te Anatipa Simon who died on Wednesday after a long battle with diabetes.

Morvin Te Anatipa Simon

Morvin Te Anatipa Simon Photo: SUPPLIED / Wanganui District Library

He was 70 years old.

The Nga Paerangi man who affiliated to Ngati Apa and Ngati Tuwharetoa tribes was well respected in Maoridom, particularly in the kapa haka world where he composed many waiata and reignited Maori culture for a new generation.

Mr Simon and his wife Kura also worked closely with Wellington iwi - Te Atiawa, training and leading rangatahi in various roles and was also a radio presenter on Atiawa-Toa FM in the early 2000s.

Neville Baker of Te Runanga o Taranaki Whanui will be travelling to Morvin Simon's tangihanga this weekend and said he left behind a legacy of mentoring aspiring broadcasters.

"A lot of people have come through the tuition of Morvin and his wife Kura, because they worked very well as a husband and wife team.

"So a lot of people that are in radio and various other parts of the media have probably been touched by Morvin and Kura at some point".

He also worked with Neville Baker for the then Department of Maori Affairs in Whanganui and New Plymouth.

Mr Simon, who was a member of the Catholic Church, often provided pastoral and spiritual guidance to whanau in need. He also continued to have an association with Hato Paora College in Fielding where he was an old boy.

Morvin Simon was also respected as a repository of knowledge for his Whanganui iwi having written a series of books Taku Whare E that provided information about all of the marae in Whanganui, Ruapehu, Rangitikei and South Taranaki areas.

A member of the Nga Paerangi hapu at Kaiwhaiki Marae, Gerrard Albert, says the Whanganui River has lost a man with many gifts.

He said during the time when Te Atihaunui-a-Paparangi was in residence at Te Papa Museum 10 years ago, at the Awa Tupua exhibition, he was the right person to explain Whanganui tikanga or customs.

"He was able to be both a traditionalist and a modernist and ensure that Whanganui tikanga and kawa are understood through contemporary eyes.

"So he was perfect for roles such as Te Papa to hold the mouri (life force) of the paepae (orator's bench) and ensure that not only other iwi of the motu understood the history of his people but the rest of the world would have a window into his ancestral river".

His biggest loss will be felt in the kapa haka world.

Mr Simon was renowned both nationally and internationally for his ability to compose choral pieces.

The programme co-ordinator of the Bachelor of Performing Arts at Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, Rob Ruha, said he would be sadly missed in the Maori performing arts community.

He says Mr Simon's contribution to kapa haka was not only important to his own Whanganui iwi but the rest of the motu.

"Significant to the point that Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi was fortunate enough to be able to honour him and Dr Ngapo Wehi, with a special tohu (acknowledgement) in 2012.

That was in recognition of his significant contribution to the kapa haka world and the development and the promotion of excellence of Maori performing Arts throughout the country".

Morvin Simon's funeral at Kawhaiki Marae will be attended by hundreds of mourners.

Morvin Simon's funeral at Kawhaiki Marae will be attended by hundreds of mourners. Photo: SUPPLIED

Mr Simon's body arrived at Kaiwhaiki on Friday afternoon after lying amongst his Ngati Apa relatives at Whangaehu marae.

Te Tai Hauaruru MP, Tariana Turia, who is also of Ngati Apa descent visited the marae to pay her last respects.

She said like "te awa tupua", his waiata could move from tempestuous rapids to smooth waters that caress your every trouble away.

Mrs Turia says Morvin Simon created the magical sound we now associate with Hato Paora College; with Ngā Paerangi and of course the beautiful harmonies of St Peters Chanel cultural group.

Morvin Te Anatipa Simon's funeral at Kawhaiki Marae will be attended by hundreds of mourners travelling in from across New Zealand and the world to farewell him.

His burial is planned for Tuesday.

He is survived by wife Kura Simon and his eight children and many mokopuna or grandchildren.