Ngoi Pewhairangi

aka Te Kumeroa Ngoingoi Ngāwai

Ngoi Pēwhairangi was a cultural bridge builder, keeping alive old-school traditional performing arts and cultural knowledge that ultimately brought the Māori language into the pop and hip hop charts of the 1980s.

While her legacy is best known through collaborations with high-profile Māori artists Prince Tui Teka and Dalvanius Prime, Ngoi composed many widely respected waiata (songs) including ‘Kia Kaha Ngā Iwi’, ‘Ka Noho Au’, and ‘Whakarongo’.

Ngoi Pewhairangi with copies of 'Poi E'.
Photo credit: Gisborne Herald
Patea Maori Club - Poi E (1984)
Poi E (Maui, 1984)
Prince Tui Teka - E Ipo (1983)
Dalvanius (documentary, 2002) - NZ On Screen
Tui Teka and wife Missy sing Tui’s hit 'E Ipo' after presenting Ngoi Pewhairangi with the gold disc for writing the te reo lyrics, 1982
Photo credit: TVNZ
The famed Māori linguist and teacher Ngoi Pēwhairangi. Ngoi wrote the lyrics to two No.1 singles, The Patea Māori Club's Poi E and and Prince Tui Teka's E Ipo. She died in 1985.
Ngoi Pewhairangi at left, photographed at the opening of the Gisborne Chief Post Office, 20 June, 1975.
Photo credit: Gisborne Photo News
Ngoi Pēwhairangi (right) with a member of the Pātea Māori Club holding a gold disc for 'Poi E'. 
Ngoi Pēwhairangi, from the Pātea Māori Club album 'Poi E'.
Patea Maori Club's tribute to Ngoi Pewhairangi - Ngoi Ngoi (1992)
In 2008 Huia published 'Ngoingoi Pēwhairangi: A Remarkable Life', a biography of Ngoi Pewhairangi ( The author Tania Ka’ai (Ngāti Porou, Ngāi Tahu) is a professor in Māori innovation and development at Auckland University of Technology
Photo credit: Huia Publishers
‘Poi E’ wins the award for the best Polynesian recording, 1984. Dalvanius with lead singer Hui Kahu.
At the Māori Competitions for the Gisborne and East Cape region in 1966, a new award was instituted, called the Tuini Ngāwai Memorial Trophy - named after the acclaimed songwriter. With the new award in 1966 are, from left, Mrs P. Kaua, songwriter (and Ngāwai’s niece) Mrs Ngoi Pēwhairangi, Mr Pax Jones, Mrs M Jones and Kathleen Sadlier. Holding the cup is Sonny Jones.
Photo credit: Gisborne Photo News, October 1966
Dalvanius with Ngoi Pewhairangi. Photograph by Gil Hanly
Prince Tui Teka - E Ipo (1982)
The Patea Māori Club's Poi-E was a smash in 1984, topping the chart with almost no airplay. Produced by Dalvanius with Dave Hurley (who also engineered it), it was the biggest selling single of the year.
Waka Huia Archive, 5 October 1997: Maori composers Tuini Ngawai and Ngoi Pewhairangi
Poi E: The Story of our Song (trailer, 2016)
Ngoi Pēwhairangi was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2022. The Hall of Fame is an initiative of Recorded Music NZ and the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), whose support of AudioCulture enables the site to stream music content.



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