TODAY |

Ngāti Rānana back on the London scene after lockdown

After 18 months of Covid restrictions, weekly indoor rehearsals have started again for London-based Māori group Ngāti Rānana.

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Covid restrictions saw Ngāti Rānana’s weekly indoor rehearsals pause for 18 months. Source: 1 NEWS

Group numbers are down after several members returned home, but new members are turning up and they're not just Kiwis.

“There's a lot of Kiwis out there that we appreciate haven't really felt the sounds of home or listened to home, heard a haka before so we're here to provide that,” says chairperson of Ngāti Rānana, Ben Appleton.

“We haven't had people come over for the last 18 months so essentially we are dwindling in numbers."

But within the core group, there is a next generation craving Māori culture.

"As a British man, there's the slight guilt of the historic legacies there, in terms of me as a teacher, I enjoy education and at the same I am really striving to learn,” says teacher, Sam Leather.

A London-based Kiwi says the group is important to keep her grounded.

“I think being in London, especially during Covid, it’s very isolating. You're away from home - so kind of regaining that sense of identity, kind of regaining your roots,” says Evelyn Arohia-Thomspon.

For more than 60 years, Ngāti Rānana has entertained audiences across Europe and the world.

But in March 2020, the gatherings stopped due to Covid. Members soon adapted through virtual Wānanga. And while the circumstances weren't ideal, what mattered was being together.

A year and a half later, they're stronger for it, with the first weekly gathering indoors to maintain their special bond.