Chhattisgarhis get a taste of Maori culture in Raipur


 

Dr Satendra Singh with Maori performers in Raipur (Photo Supplied)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, November 19, 2022

Indians in the North Indian State of Chhattisgarh had a rare opportunity of experiencing Maori culture as a group of young artists performed at the 22nd Anniversary of the State at its capital City Raipur earlier this month.

Aucklander Dr Satendra Singh, who was honoured by the Indian government with Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas held in Kochi on January 9, 2013, led the group of artists.

The New Zealand Team comprised Dr Satendra Singh, Tapeta Wehi, Wiha Hiku, Tom Topia, Wairahi Thomson, Jordan Clarke, Erita Thomson, Enoka Wehi, Huia King and Peter Clarke.

About the Performances

“The Chhattisgarh government had invited the group to participate in the 2022 International and National Festival of Tribal Dance held in Raipur from 1 November to 5 November 2022. The youth group is the current team whose founder, Dr Ngapo Bub Wehi and 15 members of Te Waka Huia went to tour India with me in 1990, to help celebrate 150 years of the Treaty of Waitangi. The original group visited Delhi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Agra and Mumbai,” he said.

The Haka Experience from New Zealand joined several other guest performers of Tribal Dance and Music to showcase their culture. About 1500 local tribal artists from all around India were at the Festival, to present their own traditional music and dance items, competing for prizes awarded by the Chhattisgarh government.

Among the international teams invited to the four-day Festival in Raipur as special guests were performers from Russia, Serbia, Mongolia, Indonesia, Maldives, Togo, Egypt and New Zealand.

Tapeta Wehi, who was 19 years old when he visited India earlier, said, “Revisiting India to participate in Festival 2022 was an amazing experience. For the younger members of Te Wehi Haka, this was an eyeopener where special friendships were made with other international teams as well as with Indian Tribal performers from diverse places such as Chhattisgarh, Nagaland, Assam and Madya Pradesh.”

Male Maori performers in Raipur (Photo Supplied)

Chhattisgarh the Best

Mr Wehi said that they enjoyed the hospitality of Chhattisgarh and learnt the popular catchphrase ‘Chhattisgarhya, Subne Barya,’ which translates to ‘Chhattisgarh the Best.’

Team New Zealand was popular at the Festival, evidenced by intense media interest with TV and newspapers covering Maori performances, especially the Haka, with enthusiasm.

There were many impromptu haka performances and requests for photograph opportunities.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel met with the Maori Group and praised them for travelling a long distance to share the Haka and other aspects of their culture with the people of his State. ‘Team New Zealand,’ as they were called at the Festival, gave many press interviews on indigenous culture preservation and related subjects.

It was a recurring theme upon which the media focused and said that ancient cultures could be safeguarded and their languages, art forms and traditions maintained for future generations.

Mr Wehi said that for many tribal people around the region and around the world, such issues cannot reach international platforms easily.

“I am grateful that our team of young men and women has been able to attend this Festival in Chhattisgarh and experience the rich variety of cultural presentations from so many groups. To lose any would be tragic,” he said.

Maori and other performers in Raipur (Photo Supplied)

Event at High Commission

Te Wehi Haka also visited the New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi and performed Pacific High Commissioners and Ambassadors based in India.

New Zealand’s High Commissioner David Pine hosted the event.

Dr Singh said that the Group was pleased to see several photographs of their elders held at the Chancery on milestone occasions, including the Maori blessing by Sir John Turei and Mr Bub Wehi when the embassy was refurbished and rededicated after being closed for many years.

“The outdoors rendition of a Maori Concert by Te Waka Huia in 1990 was also featured,” he said.

About Sir Edmund Hillary

Of special interest to the group was a large desk on display at the Official Residence of the High Commissioner, used by Sir Edmund Hillary when he served as the Head of Mission.

Hillary and Tensing Norgay reached the summit of Mt Everest in 1953.

Thereafter, Sir Edmund was closely connected with Nepal and India.

Mr Pine was delighted to receive a commemorative plate signed by Sir Edmund Hillary presented to him to add to the Hillary Collection by Dr Singh.

The street where the New Zealand High Commission is based was renamed Sir Edmund Hillary Marg by Delhi authorities some years ago.

The High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea to India Paulias Korni accepted a traditional Maori Challenge on behalf of his colleagues at the commencement of the programme and praised the opportunity provided by the New Zealand High Commission to witness a Maori Concert in India, which he said was a rare treat.

Dr Singh noted with gratitude, the Chhattisgarh Culture Ministry and Minister Amarjeet Bhagat in particular and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in India and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs for making the visit possible.

Dr Singh said that the Indian High Commission in Wellington acted on behalf of the State Government of Chhattisgarh and provided invaluable assistance to the Maori Group.

“They wish to acknowledge Indian High Commissioner Neeta Bhushan’s personal interest in overseeing the visit went smoothly,” Dr Singh said.

Share this story

Related Stories

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Indian Newslink

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement