A true performer, Whaea Parehiwa Totorewa has been teaching and sharing her passion for all things performing arts and te ao Māori for over 30 years.
From Waikato Tainui, Parehiwa has been performing since the age of ten with her whānau marae, Maurea, being her first introduction into the world of Māori performing arts.
“It’s not just about the performance itself. Karanga (welcome call) is performing arts, whaikōrero (formal speech) is performing arts, waiata (singing) is performing arts,” says Parehiwa who has been a kaiako (teacher) at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa coming up 19 years.
As a well-known and respected kaiako within the Huntly community and throughout Waikato, Parehiwa has taught a range of tauira (students).
Parehiwa says that some come with a range of performing arts skills and others come with nothing but a desire to learn.
“I had one student who couldn’t even speak much reo Māori but she ended up topping the class.”
At 73 years old, Parehiwa has many years of teaching experience and a wide range of knowledge when it comes to Māori performing arts.
But the charismatic kaiako says she is still open to learning and growing so she can best cater for the tauira that come into her class.
“I teach and learn all at the same time. I can be teaching all day long and learning from the students and about the students on what I can do to bring out their confidence.”
For Parehiwa, learning the skills of Māori performing arts will come as the class goes on but that isn’t her main priority when it comes to teaching.
“It’s all about confidence. I had to build up my own confidence before I could even start teaching performing arts,” says Parehiwa.
This year Parehiwa will be teaching a Māori performing arts class at TWoA’s Huntly campus where she will focus on the art of karanga.
Find out more about the Certificate in Māori Performing Arts and how to enrol.