Te Taite Cooper

Ngāti Kahungunu

1940 -

Te Taite Cooper was born in Hastings and was educated at PakiPaki and Poukawa Primary Schools outside Hastings, and Hato Paora College for three years. From 1962-1963 he was based in Los Angeles. He was musical director and choreographer for "Mauri Ora Māori" which he describes as "probably the first mini kapahaka group (six members) to leave New Zealand." Māori Ora made a black and white 20-minute film for the National Film Unit as a school Māori resource on kapahaka, as well as a colour featurette that was shown in New Zealand and overseas theatres as a tourist promotion. Mauri Ora produced the first Māori stereo L.P record in New Zealand on the Viking label. The group toured California and Arizona doing one hour programmes in Junior High Schools in 1962 and 1963. In later years, working out of Vancouver, Canada, they were used extensively by the New Zealand Government Tourist Bureau and Air New Zealand to promote New Zealand tourism to the North American and Asian markets. They represented New Zealand at Yonkers Raceway in New York, when New Zealand’s Cardigan Bay won the International Harness Racing Award. Cooper lived in Vancouver, Canada, from 1963-1985 and now holds dual citizenship of Canada and New Zealand. He returned to New Zealand in late 1985 and in 1986 co-wrote "Te Hokinga Mai". Cooper tutored at PakiPaki Bilingual school and gave them many of his own waiata and "Te Hokinga Mai’, as well as Wellington kapahaka groups such as Ngāti Poneke, Te Herenga Waka and Mawai Hakona. He has written many songs for different groups including Patea Māori Club; he was also commissioned by Tradenz in 1996 to write a song for Māori soprano, Deborah Waikapohe. He was responsible for the Māori repertoire of the New Zealand National Youth Choir during their successful 1994 tour of North America. He graduated at Victoria University, Wellington with a Dip. Māori in 1992 from the Māori Studies Dept, and a B.A. in Education in 1994. In 1996, he lectured the Māori component of "The Social Contexts of Learning" and "Theory into Practice" for the Department of Teacher Education at Victoria University. He has been working on his M.Ed Thesis and a book based on the thesis, entitled "Framing the Māori Image". He is a member of APRA, the Australasian Association for Composers and Performers, which is responsible for copyright material and royalties.

Biographical sources

  • Correspondence from Te Taite Cooper, 6, 18, and 20 Nov. 1997.
  • Te Ha Questionnaire, 1992.


  • "Te Hokinga Mai/ Te Hokinga Mai: The Return." The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry/ Ngā Kupu Tōtohu o Aotearoa. Ed. Miriama Evans, Harvey McQueen and Ian Wedde. Auckland, N.Z.: Penguin, 1989. 100-101.
  • Co-authors Te Taite Cooper and Pa Max Takuira Mariu, S.M. Written in Māori with English translation by Pa Max Takuira Mariu. The speaker mourns the departure of the Te Māori taonga and greets their return back by calling the taonga to "Stand tall!" In her introductory notes in The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry/ Ngā Kupu Tōtohu o Aotearoa, Miriama Evans states that this waiata has another verse for a Ngāti Kahungunu audience which is not published in this text. In an email correspondence Cooper includes the added verse: ‘Tangi te Korimako, Ko wai te tipuna/ The korimako inquires, who is the ancestor? Ko te Kauru o te Rangi o Kahungunu e/Tis Te Kauru o te Rangi of Ngāti Kahungunu. Tu mai ra e koro, Koutou nga tipuna/Stand tall Te Kauru, and all the ancestors. Kia tangihia tatou, Aue te aroha e/We weep, but with great love and respect!