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Ururoa reconnects Kiwis to home

Corin Mackay    July 3, 2023    2 min read   

A local kapa haka singing group, Ururoa, is back after their hiatus, helping kiwis find a home away from home.

Organised by Julie Kohu, her husband, Tanahau Kohu and a few friends, the group sings waiata Maori, a type of  music-based performing arts.

“We use singing, or “waiata” to connect and tell stories. It’s about the language and connecting to your homeland or your specific place of home,” Julie said.

“A lot of people come from New Zealand to Australia for work or to have a better lifestyle, but sometimes the connection between home and who they are gets lost. Singing Maori songs, is a way of reconnecting.”

Both Julie and Tanahau have lived in New Zealand since birth, only migrating to Australia 14 years ago. 

“I’m not Maori, I’m pakeha, a caucasian New Zealander, but my husband is Maori…singing is a way for us to keep our connection,” Julie said. 

Ururoa is named after the Maori proverb “Kaua mate wheke, mate Ururoa” – which symbolises the struggle faced by  family, when migrating to other countries, like Australia.

Julie said despite being small, the group is heavily focussed on community.

“It’s sort of not about the size, and more about what we call ‘whanaungatanga – the way of families coming together. It’s all about connectedness… People might come from completely different areas, but there’s always some connection there.”

A local kapa haka singing group, Ururoa, is back after their hiatus, helping kiwis find a home away from home.

Whanaungatanga. Tanahau Kohu leads on guitar, while lyrics are held for newcomers

Julie hopes the group will continue to grow and help the New Zealand and Maori diaspora in Forest Lake find a way home through singing.

“The great thing about Forest Lake is it’s so diverse in culture…we get so many different cultures coming up and watching or asking what we’re doing.”

“We would love to grow the community, be a part of community events…we’re always looking for performances that are paid so we can build our bank account…get money for uniforms and anything we might need.”

Ururoa meets at the lake by the stage at 8 am on Saturdays. For more information, see the Forest Lake Facebook page.

Corin Mackay