He is highly respected for his contribution to Māori performing arts; he’s also a successful businessman.

Yesterday, the achievements of Wetini Mitai-Ngatai were acknowledged at Government House with an Order of New Zealand honour.        

Mitai-Ngatai can be described as being a metaphorical son of ‘Tānerore’ through his upbringing in Rotorua.

“Me kī koinā te karawhiu o Rotorua, tipu ake ahau i roto i ngā mahi konohete he mahi moni te take, he nui ngā whānau o Rotorua koinā te mahi, koinā te oranga.”

He pays homage to those who nurtured him in this field of work to get to this achievement.

“Taku kaiako tuatahi ko Kima Hakaraia, taku koroua hoki tētahi, ko Tenga Rangitauira, ka mutu, ko taku pāpā Irirangi Tiakiawa nānā ahau i poipoi i roto i ēnei mahi.”

He's mostly known for taking two national titles with his kapa haka group Te Mātārae I Ōrehu and running his Māori tourism business, Mitai Māori Village.

While he’s currently pleased with the standard of haka these days he says there is still room for improvement.

“Tētahi wāhanga ko te ao tahito, tētahi wāhanga nō te ao hōu engari kaua e whakahanumi me waiho wehewehe tonu kia kaua ngā whakatipuranga e pōhēhē arā kē arā kē.”

Mitai-Ngatai encourages all Māori to do the same and use culture for a living.

“Nā taku māmā i kī mai ki au me haere koe ki rāwāhi mā ngā mahi kapa haka e tae atu ai koe ki ngā whenua o te ao. He oranga kei roto i ēnei mahi.”

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