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Barry Gibb's emotional powhiri before Mission show

Friday Feb 22, 2013

For this year's Mission Concert artist Barry Gibb, the moment was clearly enchanting and emotional. Three members of a powhiri group which put on a welcome and a cultural greeting for the Bee Gee in Hawke's Bay yesterday stepped forward and sang to him, delivering a beautiful rendition of How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?, one of the many songs he and his brothers Robin and Maurice gave to the world.

It came at the end of a Maori welcome which transfixed and delighted the Gibb whanau and their friends. The song was perfect for the occasion, after they were welcomed by Ngati Kahungunu's Hunni Williams who after greeting them explained that after Mr Gibb had accepted the traditional challenge he had been welcomed ``into our hearts.'' "Barry, welcome ... welcome ... your people are all with us today spiritually,"

Mr Williams said. Mr Gibb stood and returned the greeting. "We love you and thank you all for your incredible love," he told the members of the welcoming party, which included students from Karamu High School who delighted their guests with their traditional actions and songs. And Mr Gibb returned their welcome with a beautifully sung Words. The final line ``words are all I have, to take your heart away'' left the hosts spellbound. "So beautiful ... so very special," powhiri organiser, Rebecca Kamau, said.

Mr Gibb and his son Stephen were both adorned with korowai (cloaks) and were later presented with a taonga of a carved mere and bone and greenstone pendants. They were overcome. "This has just been so powerful. I love it," Stephen Gibb said. His father agreed. "What a wonderful ritual," he said. "That war chant is something else." With a proud smile he said: "I have to give the cloak back but I get to keep this [the carved mere]".

The powhiri group of about 30 was put together by the charitable trust group CLOSENZ, formed by Ms Kamau about four years ago to bring all walks of life together through a Maori cultural experience.
She said it was sparked in the wake of the arrival in Hawke's Bay of the many Motown artists who arrived to put on the 2010 Mission Concert.
She brought together a welcoming group of Ngati Kahungunu who captivated the visiting singers and musicians. "We were inspired by that," she said. "It is all about bringing people together from all cultures and all walks of life and sharing a breath and moment in time,'' Ms Kamau said.

She said Barry Gibb had shared his gifts of music with them, and everyone in the world, and they wanted to share their gifts with him. "Maori are known for their hospitality," she said. "So we hope the powhiri will provide hospitality that the artists would long remember. "It's about manaakitanga and maintaining our traditions to keep them alive and pay tribute to Barry for his gifted voice and contribution into the music industry that at some point in our lives, we've all felt a connection to his songs."

Mr Gibb said he would remember and cherish the memories of the occasion forever


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