Jo Walsh’s letter to Murray Edmond re ‘E Pari Ra’ performance.

Tēnā koe Murray,

Tuatahi kia mīhia ngā mate o te wā, o te marama, o te tau. Rātou te hunga mate, hoki atu ki Hawaiki Nui, ki Hawaiki Roa, ki Hawaiki Pāmamao. Rātou ki a rātou, tātou te hunga ora ki a tātou, tēnā tātou katoa!

It is with a sense of great achievement that I write to you and express my thanks for your contribution to what has been an incredible experience for myself, my peers and my whānau in London.

You may not be aware of your impact, but during the NZSN conference in London ‘New Zealand in the First World War’ you inspired what would become a significant event leading up to and during the 100th Anniversary of the ANZAC landings in Gallipoli and the Dawn Service at Hyde Park Corner, London on 25.04.2015

Your lecture ‘Whatiwhati taku pene: Three First World War Poems from The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse (1985)’ included the waiata ‘E Pari Rā’ by Paraire Henaare Tomoana. The explanation and translation of this waiata and the context in which you shared information about its composition was taken on board by one of the High Commission representatives, Public Diplomacy Manager, Ceilidh Dunphy. A lively conversation ensued during the lunch break and the seed was planted for the upcoming commemoration.

Moving forward to February 2015, and with support from contributing networks including the New Zealand High Commission, New Zealand Studies Network, the New Zealand Business Woman’s Network and the New Zealand Society, Ceilidh was able to share her vision and pass on the responsibility for teaching ‘E Pari Rā’ to a few key members of Ngāti Rānana (The London Māori Club).

Lewis Whaitiri and Tredegar Rangiatea Hall, both of whom had whānau in both World Wars, dedicated themselves to regular and increasingly frequent sessions with various groups, as did many other members of the Ngāti Rānana whānau.

The numbers in our ANZAC group swelled and anticipation of the events came with contemplation and sadness for our tūpuna. Approximately 200 people, from multiple cultures were gathered around the New Zealand Memorial at dawn to perform after the official Australian event came to a close.

The atmosphere was electric as the haka pōwhiri drew all of the New Zealand participants (estimated at 2000 people) across from the main ceremony to lay wreaths at our own memorial. Waiata including ‘Au e Ihu’ were then followed by our mass performance of ‘E Pari Rā’ and concluded with two verses of the haka ‘Ka Mate’. There was real warmth shared amongst everyone that took part, performer and observer.

Later that morning Ngāti Rānana went on to perform ‘E Pari Rā’ at New Zealand House for the New Zealand Society. I had the honour of introducing and translating the waiata for those attending and found speaking clearly challenging following the ‘Last Post’.

The last engagement and a fitting conclusion to the day’s events was attendance by Ngāti Rānana at Westminster Abbey, where they sang ‘Whakaaria Mai’ in the presence of dignitaries and Queen Elizabeth II.

Taking part in this, as a member of the New Zealand community in London, has left a glow in my heart. The work that you have done professionally, as an academic, has had a significant impact on many. The process of teaching ‘E Pari Rā’ to those in London has brought a lot of us together and created a wider whanau, not unlike our tūpuna who stood next to each other as soldiers.

Please accept this letter as acknowledgement of your incredible contribution. ‘E Pari Rā’ is a living breathing taonga that many of us now nurture and acknowledge. It is as much a part of us as we are now a part of her.

Ngā tauwhirotanga o te wāhi ngaro!

Aku mihi
Jo Walsh
Deputy Chair
New Zealand Studies Network

PDF version: ANZAC Dawn Service_Letter to Murray Edmond_20150430_ FINAL