Nga Ripo

A unique insight into the profound thoughts and contemporary lives of six remarkable kuia – all aged around 90 – is revealed in Maori Television’s groundbreaking new show NGA RIPO premiering on Wednesday November 28 at 8.00 PM.

Tauranga-based Dreamfish Productions travelled to Hastings, Mahia Peninsula, Whangarei, Kaikohe, Rotorua, Wanganui and Matakana Island to observe and document the kuia for NGA RIPO (deep pools) over the course of a year. The six-part, half-hour series takes you inside the homes of these venerable women – their papakainga, their marae, their private photo albums, their natural interaction with whanau and the moments they rarely share with outsiders.

“When statistics tell us that 68 percent of our people die before they reach 65, it was satisfying to find women who so resolutely defied the odds,” explains producer/director Debra Reweti. “Each of them was wonderful – strong and humble, hardworking and funny – and though we can only provide snapshots of their lives, it was an experience our crew will never forget.”

Sadly, three of the kuia – Tiraroa Te Arihi Toma, Witarina Harris and Apikara Rarere – passed away after their stories were completed. “We were given precious gifts when Tiraroa, Witarina and Apikara chose to share their hearts and homes with us,” says Debra. “It is a testament to their aroha and love of our people that they were willing to share so much, quietly knowing they were unwell but in the humble hope that it might offer something of value to others. The strength and grace of each of these women is an inspiration and a legacy to all of us.”

The series premiere on Wednesday November 28 at 8.00 PM profiles Tiraroa (Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui) who was born on Matakana Island, a slice of paradise at the entrance to Tauranga Harbour in the Bay of Plenty. Ninety-four years later, she is living on the mainland and pining for her island home – and NGA RIPO follows her as she makes her way back to where she belongs.

In the second episode on Wednesday December 5 at 8.00 PM, life is love for 93-year-old Akinihi Wharerau (Ngapuhi, Tainui). Love of her whanau, love of her late husband, love of her garden, love of others and above everything, love of her God, Jehovah.

Next, on Wednesday December 12 at 8.00 PM, meet Apikara (Rongomaiwahine, Ngapuhi) who was a top rating breakfast DJ for Te Reo Irirangi o Kahungungu when she was 88. She showed her mokopuna how to put down hangi, she planted rongoa gardens on her marae and she danced to Maori showbands.

Then, on Wednesday December 19 at 8.00 PM, a remarkable couple shares their thoughts on whanau, marriage and running a family business. On New Year’s Eve, a long time ago, pretty 20-year-old Hinemotu Paama (Ngai Te Rangi) married her sweetheart, Tukapa Harawira (Ngati Ranginui). They borrowed the suit, the dress, even the money for the marriage licence and holding hands they made a pact that they have kept for almost 70 years.

Celebrate the strength and beauty of these women who have experienced remarkable social change, cultural renaissance and in some cases, severe financial hardship, when NGA RIPO premieres on Maori Television on Wednesday November 28 at 8.00 PM