A waka huia is a treasure box, and Waka huia the programme was so-named to reflect the importance of those interviewed – the kaumātua (elders) of many iwi – and the stories they told. The interviews in this first programme took place at Waitangi in 1987. Military and community leader James (Hēmi) Hēnare (shown at the end of this clip from the first episode) was the first kaumātua to agree to be interviewed, followed by Mira Szaszy, president of the Maori Women’s Welfare League. It was typical of Television New Zealand's approach to Māori programming that producers Ernie Leonard and Whai Ngata had to get outside funding for the series. Contributions came from the Maori Affairs and Education departments before TVNZ agreed to contribute.
In this clip, presenter Hēmana Waka of Ngāi Tūhoe begins with a tauparapara (chant) and then launches into a mihi (greeting), acknowledging those who have passed away and then the audience. He says, 'The purpose of this programme which has been given to us, the Māori people, is to capture the histories from the past still held by the remaining kaumātua who are still with us today.' Beginning with a mihi is a standard opening for Waka huia and continued in the 2000s.
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