Tuini Ngāwai


For an unsung legend of Māori songwriting, Tuini Ngāwai’s talents have been sung by many, and her songs in te reo – over 200 of them – continue to be sung on marae, in homes, shearing sheds, and at kapa haka events. Sir Āpirana Ngata called her a “genius”, Dalvanius Prime described Tuini as being in the forefront of Māori music, and Rob Ruha stated she was a “master of composition … the kapa haka queen.”

In October 2022, nearly 60 years after her death, Tuini – alongside her niece, Ngoi Pēwhairangi – has been inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.

"The Queen of Rhythms": poster for the Great Easter Ball, 26 April 1946 at Tokomaru Bay, featuring Tuini Ngāwai's Orchestra. Hine Matikotai Dining Hall Tokomaru Bay (Funds in Aid of Uepohatu Memorial Hall). 
Photo credit: Te Rau Press, Tairāwhiti Museum, ID 30859
Hokowhitu Atu Concert Party led by Tuini Ngāwai - Haere Mai (Welcome) (Viking, 1959)
Tokomaru Bay party led by Tuini Ngāwai at the hui for the posthumous investiture of Ngārimu VC at Ruatoria in1943.
Photo credit: Owen Johnson, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, ATL-23217872
Back cover to District High School Māori Choir – Tokomaru Bay Songs/ Music of the Māori (Viking, 1960) – leader Tuini Ngāwai
Sir Apirana Ngata leading a haka at the official opening of Te Hono ki Rarotonga wharenui at Pākirikiri Marae, Tokomaru Bay, 1934. 
Photo credit: Leo White, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, WA-12594-G
Tuini Ngāwai (left) and her niece Ngoingoi Pēwhairangi taking part in the presentation of the Victoria Cross awarded posthumously to Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu, Ruatoria, 1943.
Photo credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington
Obituary of Tuini Ngāwai 
Photo credit: Te Ao Hou, December 1965
Side two label, Hokowhitu Atu Concert Party led by Tuini Ngāwai - Haere Mai (Welcome) (Viking, 1959)
Tuini Ngāwai's 'Haere Mai', recorded by Kara Pēwhairangi and Dalvanius (Maui, 1986)
Waka Huia episode on Tuini Ngāwai and Ngoi Pēwhairangi, 1997
Tuini Ngāwai
Side one label, Hokowhitu Atu Concert Party led by Tuini Ngāwai - Haere Mai (Welcome) (Viking, 1959)
District High School Māori Choir - Tokomaru Bay Songs/ Music of the Māori (Viking, 1960)
At the Māori Competitions for the Gisborne and East Cape region in 1966, a new award was instituted, called the Tuini Ngāwai Memorial Trophy - named after the acclaimed songwriter. With the new award in 1966 are, from left, Mrs P. Kaua, songwriter (and Ngāwai’s niece) Mrs Ngoi Pēwhairangi, Mr Pax Jones, Mrs M Jones and Kathleen Sadlier. Holding the cup is Sonny Jones.
Photo credit: Gisborne Photo News, October 1966
Side one label – District High School Māori Choir - Tokomaru Bay Songs/ Music of the Māori (Viking, 1960)
Back cover, Haere Mai (Welcome) - Hokowhitu-Atu Concert Party led by Tuini Ngāwai (Viking, 1959)
Tuini Ngāwai and Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū concert group
Tuini Ngāwai was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2022. The Hall of Fame is an initiative of Recorded Music NZ and the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), whose support of AudioCulture enables the site to stream music content.

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