Published on Apr 30, 2012
Nanny' Hui Kahu , the front woman for number-one hit Māori song 'Poi E' has been farewelled at Wai-o-turi Marae this afternoon.
The Patea Māori Club performed the song that made the group famous as her casket left the wharenui, destined for a local urupa where she will be buried.
Nanny died in her Hawera home on Friday, aged 73, ending her battle with cancer and leaving her whanau, hapu, and iwi grief-stricken.
Her body visited Pariroa Marae on Friday before being taken to Wai-o-turi Marae where it stayed for the weekend, allowing people to pay their respects.
Hundreds turned out at the marae to honour the woman they all respected.
Patea Māori Club tutor Janine Maruera says singing 'Poi E' at the tangi was poignant and emotional.
"Performing at her tangi today was special but hard to perform without her. But if we can't carry on performing without her then she wouldn't have done her job," she says.
"I can hear her saying 'mahia te mahi -- there's a job to be done, you do it' and that is the sort of person she was too."
'Poi E' grew out of tough economic times in Patea after the local freezing works closed, leaving a dwindling, dispirited community. It is a story of Patea's renaissance and rejuvenation.
The famous song had a resurgence in 2010 when hit New Zealand film Boy recreated Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' video to the 'Poi E' tune.
Nanny flew around the world with the Patea Māori Club, performing in Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Scotland and the United States. She has even performed in front of the Queen with the group.
Nanny, married to Syd Kahu, was a teacher at Hawera's Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngati Ruanui and she was a beloved elder of iwi Ngāti Ruanui and Nga Rauru.
Ms Maruera says the last few days of mourning have been difficult for everyone but says it has been wonderful to give Nanny the send off she deserves.
"It was extra special but very sad, especially for our rangatahi -- she just had so much time for them, it was unbelievable.
"We are missing her. We are so used to having her around and she is such a rock for us in the club," she says.
"She was such a beautiful person. How you saw her onstage is exactly how she was off stage. She loved everybody, especially our mokopuna and tamariki and she was always encouraging them to get involved with the ropu," says Ms Maruera.
MP for Te Tai Hauauru, Māori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says 'Poi E' and the Patea Māori Club were a symbol of hope to Māori about the power of waiata and the strength and resilience of the tangata whenua.
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