The Māori community is mourning the shock loss of 20-year-old Akeila Araroa-Waerea, a young mother who was renowned for her vibrant smile, soulful voice and strong kapa haka skills.
Akeila Araroa-Waerea, a loved and talented performer, and entertainer of te ao Māori.
Nurtured by the Mana Tamariki school community, Akeila was passionate about Te Reo Māori and taught at the schools kōhanga reo.
As a high schooler, Akeila led the Palmerston North composite kapa haka group, Te Piringa, at the 2014 national competitions. She went on to lead her senior group, Kairanga, to victory at the 2016 Rangitane Tangata Rau Festival.
Akeila performed in series one of Māori Television's 'My Country Song' and stunned the crowd and the show's hosts with her soulful voice and honest, passionate performance.
The news of her passing has come as a shock to her close whānau and friends.
The Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Awa descendant will lay in state at her home in Palmerston North and will journey to Whakatāne to her final resting place.