In praise of E te atua tapu – the new College waiata

29 May 2023

A new waiata – E te atua tapu (To the Almighty) – that captures the wairua (spirit) of the message has been gifted to Christ’s College by the Puanaki whānau during a powerful mihi whakatau on Thursday morning in the Assembly Hall.

Composed by kapa haka group tutor Matua Te Huaki Puanaki, this is the third waiata commissioned by College to be regularly sung by the kapa haka group and the Chapel Choir, as well as by the full school and staff.

“The acknowledgement to actively promote te reo and tikanga at College has been a journey that we have been on for some time,” Director of Music Robert Aburn says. “Wanting to provide a positive stepping board for this journey, we commissioned a waiata specifically for the College community in 2017.

“Our new waiata encapsulates the essence of our spiritual life in both the Chapel and the wider College community. A stunning work, it also reflects the musical voice of today and will become an integral part of our worship in the College Chapel.

“Te Huaki Puanaki has created this incredible, beautiful waiata that is both contemporary and melodic, and rhymical and uplifting. While the waiata is integral to our journey, the most important aspect is ensuring total respect for all things Māori and that tikanga is embedded in all that we do and achieve.”

In handing over the waiata, Te Huaki and his parents, kapa haka leaders Whaea Tihi and Matua Wiremu, have gifted the taonga (treasure) as is tikanga (custom). The College Chaplain, The Rev’d Cameron Pickering, has been joined by the Bishop of Te Waipounamu, The Right Rev’d Richard Wallace, for the blessing of the waiata at Assembly.

In preparation for Thursday’s ceremony – featuring all three College waiata and the school kapa haka group – the Puanaki whānau has been working with the boys, focusing on pronunciation and, at all times, ensuring that the wairua and the understanding of the emotive intent of the waiata have been fully grasped by the choir and the kapa haka group.