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Wetini Mitai-Ngatai

Wetini Mitai-Ngatai’s Biography

Last Updated:
19/04/2021, 12:45 pm
Cultural Entrepreneur, Kapa Haka Expert
Arts Foundation Laureate 2015
Te Arawa and Whakatōhea
Wetini was born and raised in Te Arawa. His entrepreneurialism was evident from an early age, as a young Wetini always aspired to work for himself. By the age of 23, he already owned two fish and chip shops. It was a natural progression for Wetini to bring together his business acumen with his longstanding passion for kapa haka.

Wetini says, “I thought, I love kapa haka and I'm going to do this as a business. Why not do something for myself and my family?”

Wetini’s early kapa haka experiences were with Ngati Rangiwewehi and Tuhourangi. In 1994 Wetini and Irirangi Tiakiawa Tahuriorangi started the group Te Mātārae I Ōrehu. As the leader of the group, Wetini has won the male leadership title at five Matatini Festivals, and Te Mātārae has qualified for the finals every time they have competed, winning the national kapa haka title twice.

In 2002 Wetini founded Mitai Maori Village in Rotorua, a Māori cultural performance and tourism attraction at Fairy Springs (Te Puna o Tūhoe), Rotorua. Through Mitai, Wetini wanted to provide employment for family and the wider community. It is now in its tenth year, employs more than 100 people including thirteen full-time staff.

Wetini commutes between New Zealand and Dubai, following the success of initiative ‘Snooze Cube,’ in partnership with Larry Swan. The company rents unoccupied areas in airports and turns them into hireable sound proof snooze rooms for sleep deprived passengers in transit.