Joy Winitana, who was staying at the hospice, had been involved in the recent opening ceremony of the Oceania Exhibition at the Royal Academy along with her Maori club who meet on a weekly basis at the New Zealand Embassy.
With the help of volunteer, Judith; Joy, her friends and family put on quite a show to express their thanks for the care Joy has received.
“Maori culture is a big part of life in New Zealand. I grew up learning the songs from a young age and I’ve always enjoyed performing. It’s something that I started at primary school and kept on doing throughout my life. Though I was born and bred in New Zealand, I’ve lived in England for the past 11 years. When I first arrived here in London I went straight to the Maori club at the embassy. It helped me make new friends with other people from home, it got me involved with performing again and it gave me a strong sense of identity.
I also took my daughter there, so she could learn the songs, the customs and the culture. She’s 18 now and she doesn’t go along so often, but she still knows what to do. Earlier this year, I was approached by two volunteers who started talking about the Oceania Exhibition. When I told them that I was actually part of the opening and closing ceremony, they asked whether I would be able to get a group together to do a performance at the hospice. I just so happened to have two nephews coming over from New Zealand, so I enlisted their help and it just kind of unfolded from there.”
It was wonderful to share a bit of our culture…and it really meant a lot to see how much the performance touched everyone”
Judith, one of the volunteers, added, “Joy’s nephews were only in the UK for 10 days, so we knew we needed to move quickly if we were going to make the performance happen. We got in touch with the Fundraising Team, managed to push all the right buttons and were delighted to be able to turn that hope into reality.”
Joy continued, “One of my nephews narrated the performance and as part of that he paid tribute to the hospice and everyone who was there that day with a special thanks to all the staff and volunteers. He got the whole audience involved with the performance, teaching everyone the words and the moves to the songs and explaining the meaning behind them.
It was wonderful to share a bit of our culture with so many people and it really meant a lot to see how much the performance touched everyone. The singing and the dances are powerful and very human. I love singing, so the singing part of the performance is what I enjoy the most. We actually do more singing than Haka, though people tend to associate the Haka with us because of the rugby.
Afterwards people kept coming and chatting to me – it went on for weeks! It was a wonderful way of taking down barriers, bringing people together and starting those conversations. The performance started out as a way of us giving a little back to the hospice for taking care of me but ended up becoming something much bigger. It brought my community and everyone at the hospice together in a very powerful and moving way.”