Our History

The ancient art of Haka can be traced back to Tāne-Rore, the personification of the shimmering heat waves and origin of dance. He is the son of Tamanui-Te-Rā (The Sun) and Hine-Raumati (The Summer Maiden), and on occasion, his wiriwiri can be seen when the land is so hot that the air shimmers and he performs the haka for his mother. This is considered as being, “Te Haka a Tāne-Rore”. The wiriwiri is performed on stage with the trembling hand action as a physical representation of Tāne-Rore.

Hine-te-Rēhia is believed to be the Goddess of Entertainment, of Pleasure and of Games. These are 3 key aspects to performing on stage, where the audience must be entertained, must have a sense of pleasure from the performance and are enjoying the experience. These are referred to as, “Ngā Mahi a Hine-te-Rēhia”. Te Whaitua o Rēhia is a term used for the stage or performance area.

Hine-Raukatauri is the Goddess of Music. She is personified as the case moth, on which the pūtōrino flute is modelled. Whether through singing or musical instruments, Hine-Raukatauri connects us to the sound of kapahaka. This is referred to as, “Te Waiata a Hine-Raukatauri”.

Hine-Ruhi is the Goddess of Performance found at dawn, and her dance is said to be the sparkle of the sunrise light that is reflected in the morning dew. This describes the sparkle in the eyes of the performer that is required when performing on stage and is referred to as, “Te Ata Hāpara a Hine-Ruhi”.

Te Whare Tāpere is the traditional House of Entertainment and was used for the purpose of recreation. Events of entertainment and amusements of various kinds included storytelling, singing, dance, musical instruments, puppets and many games. These events were often where people met and fell in love.

So, with these ancient Māori traditions of performance and entertainment, we transition not only to the modern world but to modern Melbourne, Australia where thousands of Māori people now call home. Many were born and raised here. Many without Te Reo Māori me ōna Tikanga. Many that are stuck in limbo not feeling a deep connection to Australia or their Māoritanga. A platform is needed for Māori to reconnect, and out of opportunity, a thought was created to cater for this need.

Te Hononga o Ngā Iwi, which can be translated to, the coming together of all people, was founded in 2008 by Paora Te Paki, who is of Tainui, Te Ati Awa and Ngāti Kahu descent. He recognized an opportunity for Māori to perform in support of the “R U OK?” mental health week in Dandenong, South-East Melbourne. Paora approached his brother-in-law who had just arrived from Christchurch, Kodie Heremia, and Maria Parata Rangiawha, a whānaunga from Dunedin that he recently reconnected with, to both co-tutor the potential performance group.

Kodie has Iwi affiliations to Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, Ngāi Tai ki Tōrere and Tainui. Maria’s Iwi affiliations are Kai Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Arawa, Ngāti Whānau and the Cook Islands. After both Kodie and Maria accepted the responsibilities of tutorship, and with the blessings of long-standing kaumatua in Melbourne, the late Matua Paul (Boydy) Tuhaurangi Smith from Ngāti Kahu, and kaumatua from Aotearoa, the late Koro Barney Taiapa from Ngā Puhi and Ngāti Porou, the groups' foundation was established.

Preparations were made, and practices started in Paora’s living room. Between 20-30 performers took the stage for the first performance at the “R U OK?” festival, and since then, Te Hononga o Ngā Iwi has grown from a humble living room to a rehearsal studio, from a one-off local festival performance to a wide variety of ongoing performances throughout the year.

When Paora named the group, he wanted a name that would encompass the vision of unity amongst Māori at that time from various tribe affiliations, living in Melbourne. He had been listening to Ngā Puhi waiata CDs called, Te Hononga, which planted the seed and eventuated to the official naming of the group, Te Hononga o Ngā Iwi. It wasn’t long before the acronym nickname, T’HONI (pronounced tea honey) was coined within the group, after trying to save time and space with text messages between the tutors and members. The catchy name was popularized, and we proudly continue to use the household easy-to-pronounce name, T’HONI.

However, with the purpose of bringing people together and keeping our Māori culture alive, T’HONI is staunch to remembering and using its proud name, Te Hononga o Ngā Iwi.